We sailed on the Legend about 2 years ago just before Carnival started having all of their troubles with breakdowns etc. We took our family and also went with 2 other families that were friends. We enjoyed it a lot at that time.
We went again on an 8 day cruise with 5 ports. The itinerary was the best part of the cruise. The ship was awful. It looked bad; the paint was chipped all over on the exterior and it looked dirty overall. The windows never got cleaned the entire time. Disorganized would describe a lot of things over the course of the cruise from the embarkation safety brief to the tender management. I do have to say that the interior common areas were nice and clean and I never ended up smelling the odd smells that sometimes lurk on ships.
Our stateroom was an extended balcony on the 7th deck. The room was plenty big enough for our family of 4. The beds were the worst I have ever experienced on a cruise. The air-conditioning had a problem and would not cool the room the first night so we threw the comforter off and just used the sheet. In the morning when we went to put the comforter back on, my wife started gagging after seeing dried boogers, hair and small blood like stains. When we had the room steward come in, she let us know that the family on the cruise before us had a small boy in the bed and that was why. She also let us know that they had changed the sheets but can't change the duvet cover every embarkation. That was nice to hear huh?
My wife went to guest services to complain and they said that they are supposed to change ALL the linen every time. A supervisor in Ship's Officer uniform came to the room and apologized. He agreed to have the AC fixed and change out all of the linen. He couldn't do much about the bed obviously but they did put a spare Duvet under the sheets and while it helped some, my wife and I woke up with back pain throughout the night every morning. They did get the AC problem fixed right away. Our room steward was great otherwise and I noticed that she seemed to have a REALLY long stretch of rooms down the hall that she cleaned. This observation was the first of many situations that could be described as understaffing.
I think that most people that cruise regularly would agree that cruise food in general has been on a steady decline for the last 6 years or so. I don't expect anything amazing these days but the last time we were on the legend it was not bad at all. This time it was rough. The quality was good for some dishes and bad for others but the dinning experience overall was very poor. I will explain:
The breakfast in the buffet was good just about every day but they started running out of food on about the 3rd morning which was a little odd. I have never really seen that before. Lunch was decent the 3 times we ate on the ship. Dinner is where things got pretty rough. We had early dining and with the embarkation briefing starting rather late, we decided to just go to the buffet for the first night's dinner. When we got up there, I thought we were too early or something as all but one buffet line were closed and there were hardly any staff about. I thought it must be because it was the first night. The food was ok enough.
The next night was a formal night so we got all dressed up and headed down to the main dinning for our 6pm seating. After asking and being shown to our table, we sat for 12 minutes before anyone even said a word to us. It was a bit odd. We ordered some drinks which took a while to show up but did beat the additional 10 min or so that it took the bread server to come around. After a half hour passed from our seating and still not appetizers, I started watching the staff out of boredom. Food was left just sitting in the serving plates for a very long time. When servers did distribute it, they looked rather confused. One table near us had half of their appetizers served and they just left the other half with no food for about 3 minutes or so.
We finally got our appetizers and sat enjoyed another LONG wait for the main course. I had ordered some pasta dish that was OK but the same as you would get at the buffet. Those at our table that ordered seafood said it was good. My father in law ordered the prime rib which looked and cut like ham. He said it was terrible and tough as leather. The whole meal from sit down to when we left was 1 hour and 41 minutes. I know this because we had planned to go to the family comedy at 7:30 and I was looking at my watch constantly. Once again, it looked like cutbacks to staffing had a lot to do with the bad service. There were only head waiters and no helping staff anymore. We even saw that the head waiters had to wipe down the dishes at the bussing stations after bussing their own tables. No wonder they looked miserable and had no enthusiasm like they used to.
The next night, we decided to try the buffet again. Remember when you would go to the Lido Deck Buffet and there would be the "Good Eats" standard food line, a Chinese food line and then another specialty food line that would be different every day like Italian, Indian etc? Well, not for dinner anymore. That's only at lunch now. It was the same desolate no-man's land as the first night. I guess they figure most people will go to the main dinning room or they are trying to steer people there. They don't have pizzas ready to go anymore either BUT they were VERY good this time around with a nice thin crust and almost seemed like they were cooked in a wood fired brick oven. The salad bar is completely unmanned so the ranch dressing is always out and you have to go hunt someone down. That wasn't just me, there were many people complaining about that every night. The deli sandwiches were good. Once again, the staffing level was abysmally low.
We went to the Golden Fleece Steakhouse one night and everyone liked their steak and seafood dishes very much. I don't like steak so I had the rosemary infused chicken and was really not impressed. It was on the dry side and I actually had better chicken in the main dinning room. The service was very good however.
All over the ship, I was struck by how few employees there seemed to be this time. Most smaller bars were completely unstaffed, even when there was an event going on in the lounge. The bar staff that roamed around on the pool deck or even anywhere was very much cut back which seemed silly since drinks are a huge source of profit. As I mentioned before, there was no crew that cleaned any windows the entire 8 days.
All in all, from being on this boat, it seems like Carnival is hurting and is making short sighted decisions like massive cutbacks to staffing. I understand that the Legend will be dry-docking in a few months and they may want to put off major maintenance but this was silly. Things just keep getting worse over the years and not just the food. Remember when they would have a welcome back hour with free drinks every time? Then remember when they made it a VIFP club only thing? Then remember when they made it a gold and higher only event. Well, now it is only on sailings over 5 days and only for 45 minutes. The very best part this time was, they scheduled it for 3pm while we were still in port!!!!!!! How cheap can they possibly get? It's not like we live for it but it was usually a fun time and the cutting back is very evident.
I think this was the last time we cruise with Carnival. I know they are almost always cheaper that Royal Caribbean but the difference isn't enough to justify the garbage service anymore. I would rather have an inside room on RC than a balcony on Carnival. We were docked next to the Freedom of the Seas in Cozumel and it was almost embarrassing walking back onto the Legend when the two were viewed side by side.
I enjoyed all of the stops but couldn't wait to be off of the boat.