We are C&A Emerald members and as such got a very good deal for a junior suite on Deck 8. We flew to Barcelona a day prior to departure and stayed in a pleasant hotel. The flight, hotel and transfers were organised by RCCL. Not cheap but very well done.
Embarkation was a breeze, as we had priority boarding as we had booked the suite. The whole process took about 10 minutes! However, our bags took several hours to arrive, but not a problem, we just could not change for dinner that evening.
We were very pleasantly surprised by our junior suite. The stateroom is much wider than the normal cabins, the balcony is large and the bathroom has a bathtub and it had obviously been completely renovated whilst in dry dock. We were very far aft and we did feel the “motion in the ocean” because the crossing was not at all smooth. Not unpleasant, it was just like being rocked to sleep! We were pleased to have a coffee machine and a water boiler in the stateroom. You could however only brew one cup of coffee at a time and the coffee pads provided were large enough for 12 cups so absolutely no good at all.
Our cabin steward was the worst we have ever had (ok, we were spoiled by our cabin steward on the Adventure of the Seas, but still). Towel animals only on formal nights, it took six, yes six, requests to wipe a sticky mess off the coffee table and this was only done after we complained to guest services three times. BTW people we met from an outside cabin on Deck 3 had towel animals every evening and they paid a lot less for their cruise than we did.
As a surprise for my husband on his birthday, I booked a romantic package (rose petals strewn on the floor and in a heart form on the bed, with a bottle of Moet Chandon and chocolate strawberries for a romantic EVENING. Our inept cabin steward set up the cabin when we returned from our excursion in Tenerife at 4:30 pm instead of when we were at dinner, so so much for a romantic evening AFTER dinner. Completely spoiled the surprise, and RCCL really know how to charge.
We had main seating in the MDR at 6 pm. We were placed at a table for 10 people, but basically only 2 couples appeared regularly including us. On my husband’s birthday, we were the only couple. This was very disappointing as I had ordered a birthday cake for him and there was no-one at our table to share it. We spoke to the Maitre d’ and he said he would place us at a new table with other guests (which he did) and that he would make sure that my husband got another cake to celebrate his birthday at the new table next evening, but unfortunately, this was an empty promise and no other cake materialized. I wish people would not make promises they do not intend to keep. My birthday was the day we embarked in Barcelona and RCCL were aware of this. But there was absolutely no recognition of my birthday. Apparently, these days you have to pay for a cake to get them to say happy birthday. Pathetic!
Upon boarding, we explicitly checked the box that we would like our credit card to be charged in US$ and have our credit card company take care of the exchange rate from US$ to Euros. Well, three days before we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we received a copy of our bill stating that we had opted to be charged in Euros (this incurs a 3% fee over Bloomberg and RCCL also use a $/€ exchange rate which can only be described as fraudulent). We went to guest services and the guy there told us that it was our own fault because we had checked the wrong box. Not true! He then told us that they could not correct it and that we would know be charged in Euros. This would have meant our cruise would have cost up to 30 Euros per person more, due to RCCL’s incompetence. When I would not accept this and also realized that he hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, I must admit I got quite mad. And then he told me he had other guests to deal with and our conversation was over. Ever heard of customer service, RCCL? Anyway, I insisted on speaking to the officer in charge, and he could not have been more helpful and sorted everything out to our satisfaction. But European passengers beware. Make absolutely sure that RCCL do not charge your credit card in Euros as this is a rip-off (they declare it as being part of their service for European guests, but please do not fall for this!).
Now to the best parts of the cruise: the food in the MDR for breakfast, lunch and dinner was always excellent as was the service. Most of the time it was fast service, the food was always well prepared and delicious. All the wait staff who served us at dinner (Sahlee and Ritzchie, Ema and Hussein) were fantastic.
We love to dance, and they had the best groups on the ship. The Stanley Trio and the Dynamic Duo were fantastic. There was a group of us that met on the ship who all loved to dance and boy, did they play good dance music. We must have danced for three to four hours a day, so that burned off all the calories from the good food. Sometimes the venue for the dancing was not so good as the Anchors Aweigh (the best dance floor) was blocked each evening for diamond member events so they had to use the smaller dance floor on Deck 4 (Centrum), but we had a lot of fun. There were dance lessons most days held by a Russian couple who were very pleasant. Through our dancing, we met so many delightful people of all ages and from all over the US and they all made our trip very special and we were sad when it was time to leave. We heard a rumour that the contract for the Stanley Trio has not been renewed by RCCL. I hope this is not true, because they were truly excellent and have been playing on RCCL ships for over 20 years.
We only went to one show and it was OK. Also played a couple of silly games, which were also just OK.
The four ports we stopped off at were Alicante, Malaga, Funchal and Tenerife. All very pleasant. We only took a tour on Tenerife to Loro Parque. The guide who accompanied us was pretty useless. She read out a list of information on Tenerife as if she was totally bored and did not accompany us into Loro Parque to make sure that we got to all the shows. Last time we did Loro Parque two years ago, the guide took pride in making sure we saw everything, but not this lady. We knew what to do, but others on the tour did not and probably missed out.
The formal evenings were very nice, but there are no longer cocktails and finger-food available as in the past, unfortunately only champagne, which we don’t like.
I don't think I agree with the prepaid gratuities, because I personally prefer to distribute these myself, and I have the feeling that some crew members did not do such a good job. You are told that if you are not satisfied with the service on any one day, then you can reduce the gratuities, but firstly this would impact all crew members, not just the lazy ones and secondly, you have to jump through a lot of hoops at guest services to do so, and it is not worth wasting your vacation time to stand in line.
Disembarkation was really easy. We were group 5 and we were off the ship and at the airport by 9 am.
We travelled on the Legend in 2009 and at the beginning of 2013 she was in dry dock for renovations. For her age, she’s in great shape. I love the Vision class ships because they are so light and airy and the renovations done in dry dock have certainly made her into a great ship.
All in all, despite the niggles which I have described above, we had a marvellous cruise on the Legend of the Seas, and cannot wait until the next cruise.