We had experienced a most wonderful time while cruising on the Legend of the Seas in the Western Mediterranean. For the most part, the ports were fabulous, and the ship itself provided a more than worthy means of transportation. Our family of four, including DD13 and DD8 had all enjoyed ourselves throughout the vacation there was a great deal to see and many activities to meet the needs for all of our ages and likes.
I will not provide the details our journey in this particular review, but for those that would like to read the minutia for each port, meal, activity, pre- and post-cruise experiences, etc., you can visit the thread at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1876478. However, below, I will provide my comments on the various categories that Cruise Critic asks us to rate for our particular cruise.
I would actually give this category a 4.5, but the system only allows full digits. The service in the Main Dining Room (we had MTD on Deck 5) was outstanding. Our waiter, and especially our assistant waiter were very attentive to our wants and needs each evening we had them as our wait staff (5 of 7 nights). The food was mostly anywhere from good to very good (as expected), with a few outstanding dishes. However, there were a few dishes that also missed (but food is subjective, and luckily the waiter will bring you alternate items). We ate in the MDR whenever we could for breakfast and dinner, and on the one sea day. Although the Windjammer (WJ) food was okay, the biggest disappointment regarding dining was the service in the WJ (lack of staff to clean up dirty dishes and lack of people asking if you wanted drinks beyond alcohol) also it was very crowded at all times. However, we are more of a MDR type of people, so the WJ experience did not dampen our cruising experience.
Public Rooms 5
The Legend of the Seas was recently refurbished and the interior definitely reflected this. Everything looked fairly new and shiny. The public rooms were kept clean and lively, and I almost never felt crowded on this ship (with only the very minor exception of the few moments when leaving a show from the main theater in the evening and in the WJ, which is to be expected). The pool was also never crowded and although there were a few lounges reserved by the chair hogs, one can always find an empty seat. Although I will be honest, I did not make as much use of the public rooms on this vacation compared to past cruises.
I only had a balcony stateroom on this cruise (our first, moving up from steerage), and it was great. It was nice and clean, and it reasonably fit four people (two adults, a pre-teen, and a young teen). The space was a concern when booking especially after reading on CC how a balcony was not enough room for two people, but it worked out very well even when we had to dress in the morning or for dinner. There was space aplenty for all four of our suitcases under the bed, and enough space for all of us to store our clothing (including formal wear for two evenings). Our room steward (Richard) was also amazing and went out of his way to make us happy. For instance, I brought wine aboard and asked him for a corkscrew. He obliged and brought one that afternoon. Before dinner, I tried to open a bottle and the corkscrew broke. So I left the bottle on the counter with the broken corkscrew stuck inside. When I got back from dinner, the bottle was opened (with the cork replaced on top), with not only a new corkscrew by its side, but also two wine glasses.
I was very impressed with most of the entertainment on this ship. The aerial shows in the Centrum were fantastic (for adults and kids). They also had some excellent talent booked for this itinerary including a violinist, a Motown group, and a pair of acrobats. I would give this a 5+, but I am not a big fan of the usual Royal Caribbean singers & dancer group.
Spa & Fitness 5
Although I did make use of the running track on most mornings, I did not use the gym. The weather was too nice for the treadmills/ellipticals, etc. However, the track is freshly painted, and it was mostly passenger-free when I made use of it early in the morning. My DW did use the spa services for a massage. She said it was very nice, although not great and a little more expensive than the same massage on land (even in our area). However, it is a cruise, we are on vacation, so a little expense like this is a nice bonus to an already good time.
Family & Children 5++
I cannot say enough how much we enjoyed this vacation and itinerary as a family (Rome, Barcelona, Valencia, and Rome (yes, I wrote it twice) being the highlights). There was something for everyone to enjoy. The ship itself was also a haven for kids. My younger daughter loved the pool with us, and going to Adventure Ocean. My older daughter absolutely loved the teen club and all the friends she met (and the freedom she had on this ship). There were things to do as a family, or solo, or as husband & wife, etc. No, this is not one of those big mega-floating hotels, but there was more than ample things for us to do.
Shore Excursions 4
Since I rounded down in my rating of dining (4.5 to a 4), I am going to round up from a 3.5 (which I would give it) to a 4. Below are the ports for my itinerary, and a quick summary of what we did, and the excursions. I would not recommend two of the three RCI excursions we took to other people:
Rome We arrived here a day before and took advantage of that time to do the city Do-It-Yourself (DIY). Visiting the Coliseum/Forum and other areas such as the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, & Trevi Fountain as well as walk through most of the city (unfortunately, no time to visit the Vatican). Seeing Rome DIY allowed us to go at our pace, and enable me to explain the various sites to my kids in terms that they would understand (I did a bunch of research pre-vacation). It also saved a lot of money, since most of the Rome tours (RCI & private) are fairly pricy.
Genoa We took RCIs Genoa City & Aquarium Tour. The aquarium was a huge disappointment. There was not as much as in most US aquariums, and they had it set up so all visitors follow a one-way path from the entrance to the exit. We were in and out in less than 45 minutes. The city itself seemed a little quaint, although a little seedy as well. There were not many must-see areas in the city, and it could have been done very easily DIY. We also did not care much for the tour guide.
Marseilles We took RCIs Cassis Tour. The trip up the coast was beautiful, but could not get great pictures out the bus windows. The trip to the top of the cliff over the town was cancelled due to winds (not the fault of the tour guide, but disappointing). Since we did not go to the cliff, we had more time to spend in Cassis. The problem was that we arrived a little after ten thirty in the morning and most stores and restaurants did not begin opening up until closer to noon. So it was a picturesque town, but not much to do there in the morning. We spent time as a family, which was nice, but would have taken a different tour to a different city, if I was to do this again. Once again, we did not care for this tour guide as well.
Barcelona After two not-so-great RCI tours (I did not go with private tour groups on this cruise), I was hoping I would not get a third. We were happily surprised to get a great tour Barcelona City Tour with a very good tour guide. This tour allowed us to visit (although not go inside) all of the highlight attractions of this city, as well as travel up many of its famous streets. It was a great teaser tour to show us everything, and also brought us back in the early afternoon with enough time to then see the city DIY, which we spent in the Las Ramblas area.
Palma This was a hard port to find an excursion that we could all agree on, and left it open and figured we could always book something last minute. When that last moment came, we decided that we were tired and spent the day on the mostly abandoned ship it became our sit by the pool day.
Valencia This was a very nice DIY family day spent mostly at the City of Arts and Sciences. A great museum area with amazing architecture that we all enjoyed.
This was a very easy on, with almost no waiting at all embarkation process. It was smooth and painless and really, really quick. We spent more time at the information tables on our way onto the ship. Disembarkation was just as easy we had self-debarkation and left the ship just as quickly (if not quicker) without any hassles.
We received amazing service on this ship, especially from our wait-staff and our room steward. We have had both of these services being just okay on previous cruises, but they were both outstanding on this ship. As mentioned above, the only place I do not think the service was outstanding was in the Windjammer, however, that did not diminish my rating of a 5+ to a 5.
Value for Money 5+
There are almost no vacations available where you can get a better bang for the buck. Was it the perfect with absolutely no glitches in the cruise? No, but no vacation is ever perfect. The only drawback is the cost to get from the US to Europe to take the cruise but that cannot take away anything from the cruise itself. Just try comparing this to a land vacation that visits all of these cities with lodging, food, travel expenses, etc. you cannot beat the cruise.
I got a very good deal on this cruise. I still stayed over $100 less than the price drop after final payment date (although the inside cabins took a huge drop), plus I was given $200 OBC to boot. So, I got this for a great price. It was also $1000 less for my family on a similar itinerary on Liberty that was sailing at the same time. Would I have liked to pay less? Of course but very comfortable with the rate I paid.