Background This was my eleventh cruise, fourth on Royal Caribbean (first time on the Legend, 2X on the Explorer, and once on the Majesty). We will be going on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas next February (we booked on the ship.) We have been on 3 NCL cruises, 2 Holland America cruises, one Carnival, and one on MSC.
Embarkation / First Day
If you've read any of my previous reviews, I've had some extremely easy check-in/embarkation processes (Baltimore, Boston, Cape Liberty, etc.), as well as some more difficult ones (Manhattan). We have only sailed out of Port Everglades once, back in 2009 on MSC Orchestra, and that wasn't the easiest check-in. We didn't quite know what to expect going into the terminal, but I figured it must be quick and easy considering we were leaving from Terminal 18, a terminal specifically built for the Oasis and Allure of the Seas, ships more than 2X the size of ours. Well Terminal 18 was a very smooth and easy check-in, and that was with only half of the terminal in operation (the other half was closed off as it was not needed.) We got to the terminal around 11:15 and we were on the ship by 11:30.
Once we were on the ship, we decided to go sneak into our stateroom to drop off our bags, but the cabin attendants wouldn't let us off the elevator to get onto the deck at all. They sent us up to Deck 9, the Lido Deck. Overall, there wasn't much that was open for lunch on embarkation day, just Windjammer and the Park Cafe (no MDR). We had our lifeboat drill at 4 pm, and we left right on schedule at 4:30.
Service on the Legend of the Seas was nearly perfect, with the exception of a few flaws. For example, our cabin steward Luban was not the most helpful (even with a bit of an additional tip at the beginning of the cruise.) he was often rude to my family (who were in another cabin three doors down) and he did not do everything we asked him to. He also didn't deliver any Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle invitation, simply because he "didn't want to." Nobody in our party received their invitations either. But at least we met our cabin steward this time (a reference to my last cruise on the Dawn, when we never met our steward.)
The other major flaw was the absolutely Adventure Ocean/OPTIX staff, but I'll get into that later. Other than that, service in the MDR, Windjammer, Pool, etc. was near perfect. A few service members that I'd like to recognize are: Dragos, our waiter from Romania, Mario Minchev, the Maître' D (who made it a point to become friendly with everyone at my table,) Joao, a pool attendant who gave excellent service, and Sheldon Smith, another pool attendant who was very friendly and also gave excellent service.
Our cabin was rather inconveniently located towards the aft of the ship. We chose to be near the aft elevators thinking that the ship main amenities (Windjammer, pool deck, etc.) would be centered around the aft like most ships. But the Windjammer was all the way in the front, so that became a bit of a nuisance. The cabin itself was rather small (in fact, our ocean view on this ship is smaller than our inside on the Independence next year.) It was also very loud in our cabin, being with an older ship, there was a lot of creaking late at night, and we were all right under the Centrum.
Being that Legend of the Seas is a 19 year old ship, we weren't expecting to have as many activities as there would be on the newer ships, but we were shocked by the EXTREME lack of activities. In fact, there was such a lack that the spacing between activities on our Daily Compass was almost double-spaced some days. There was a lot of empty room on that Activity Planner. Besides the pool and it's very few poolside activities during the day, there was nothing really going anywhere else. The Anchors Aweigh Lounge on Deck 5, FWD was closed off to everyone for about 5 hours during the day to act as a glorified Diamond (Plus) and Pinnacle member only lounge. I say a glorified lounge because there is a lounge on Deck 9, MID that was a full time Diamond Club. Also, the few activities that the ship did have were geared towards the crowd of the ship, which were mostly senior citizens over the age of 85 (the median age on the ship was 75.)
Adventure Ocean / OPTIX Kid's and Teen's Programs
Now, we traveled with two 14 year olds (1 Boy, 1 Girl) and a 9 year old girl, the same kids who were with us the Explorer of the Seas and loved the program. This cruise, they HATED the program, the staff, and the actual places themselves. The nine year old went to Adventure Ocean once, and had a fun time with her friend, but that was it. They were by themselves in there with 3-4 four year olds, and two of them didn't even speak English. The OPTIX teen club, on the other hand, was terrible for the teens but they went because there was nothing else for them to do on the ship. There were 12 teens that registered for the program, most of whom because friends with our teens. OPTIX, the teen club, was inconveniently located in a small corner on Deck 10, FWD adjacent to the Adventure Ocean room. Both spaces were very small and gave the feeling that Royal Caribbean didn't really care about the kids when they built the ship.
We had a huge problem with the teen staff on the ship, and it started on Day 1 when a friend who travelled with us needed to ask the staff member, an American named Jessica, a question about the program for her teen (the girl aforementioned.) She quite impolitely snapped at her demanding that she leaves. The staff member Jessica later went on that night about the family, claiming, "she doesn't know what to do with them" and that "they were going to be a handful." The other teen staff member, another American named Craig Gates, was very rude to the teens the whole cruise. They played a game called Gaga (which is basically the Israeli version of Dodgeball) one afternoon and the staff member had said the name incorrectly or something (he called is GaaGaa Ball or something that was incorrect.) One of the teens (the boy) corrected him because he knew the game is Gaga (he has been playing it since he was young), to which Craig shouted and said "I have been working at the company for 21 years, and I know that it is not Gaga, but GaaGaa Ball." The point is, it was something stupid that he had no right to shout at.
The third staff member, who's name was either Malva or Melva (I don't remember), made the teens raise their hands if they wanted to speak, and made it quite clear that it was either to follow that rule or follow the exit signs out of OPTIX.
Entertainment on the ship happened to be quite good. The three production shows [which I'll get into a bit later] were on Days 3, 6, and 9, were amazing and the guest performers, while they weren't as incredible as they were on EOTS, were very good. The performers that stood out were John Bressler, a pianist-turned-comedian who sang about his life and gave many impersonations of famous artists and Steven Thomas, a comedian who has been on several world tours.
The only show that was just OK was 'The Comedy Stylings of Mario and Daniel: Two Funny Guys." I didn't find them that funny, and neither did the audience.
Other than the Headliner shows, entertainment was at a lack around the ship. I do have to commend Schooner Bar pianist Kelly Goodrich however. I thought he was great and I enjoyed listening to him every night in the Schooner Bar, which was located just outside of the Centrum on Deck 4, FWD.
The Three Stage Production Shows
Swing City (night 3): In all honesty, this was my least favorite of the shows. Swing City took a dive into the swing songs of the 1900's.
Absolutely Fab (night 6): This was probably my favorite of the three. This show featured music of the '70s-80's British Invasion and other rock/pop songs, from artists such as Elton John, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, etc.
Invitation to Dance (night 9): We had seen this show twice on Explorer, so I decided not to see it again.
The Legend of the Seas had a rather limited choice for food. There was the Romeo and Juliet MDR, Windjammer Buffet, and Park Cafe, as well as the for-fee Chops Grille ($30 pp) and Izumi Asian ($5 PLUS a la carte pricing.)
We had Windjammer for breakfast every morning, and for a ship buffet, we weren't all that impressed. It had the normal options (waffles, bacon, pancakes, etc.), but nothing special really. It was still a good breakfast.
For lunch, we avoided the buffet and had Park Cafe every day. Park Cafe, in my opinion, had the best food on the ship, featuring sandwiches and salads and cookies and other things like that.
The Main Dining Room probably had the worst MDR food we have ever had on a cruise, but it was still pretty good. In my opinion, the best food was actually on Night #1.
Disembarkation was mostly smooth, with the exception of waiting on line for Customs. Disembarkation was also much earlier than on cruises from the Northeast. We chose to take the Luggage Valet service, where upon leaving our luggage outside our cabin on the last night, it would be taken straight from the ship to Miami International Airport where it would be valeted straight onto our plane. We put our luggage outside on the last night and we didn't see it again until we arrived in LaGuardia Airport in NYC Monday evening.
We also pre-arranged with the cruise line for a coach-bus transfer to Miami International, and our bus left at 9:45, so we left the ship at 9 am Monday and arrived in Terminal 18. It sure felt good to go straight past baggage claim and to the customs line. The customs line, however, was extremely long due to the lack of customs officers. Again, smaller ship, so the terminal wasn't in need of using all of the facilities. Well, they were wrong, and we were on the line for about 35 minutes, almost missing our transfer. There were only 6 customs officers present, with a crowd of 2000 passengers ready to leave the terminal. You can figure out the rest.
Overall / Final Thoughts
Overall, I thought it was a fine ship... for senior citizens and those not traveling with kids. Still, it was all fine in the end and everyone had a great time.
Some more things to point out: The casino closed in between 1 and 1:30 am nightly, which was a bit ridiculous. Also on a sadder note, two people died of unrelated heart attacks on Days 2 and 3, respectively. The first heart attack, on Day 2, resulted in the ship making an unexpected, brief early morning stop in Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos at 6 am on Day 3. The person that suffered a heart attack on Day 3 was originally going to disembark at another pitstop in San Juan, Puerto Rico at 2 am on Day 4, but that person died before we had gone too off course, resulting in us just going direct to Tortola, our intended Port of Call, the next morning.
The ship was very nice, but again it was very small. Entertainment was pretty god, staff was mostly good, food was ok, the ports were beautiful [read my Ports review for more], and overall, we had a good cruise on the Legend of the Seas.