Carnival Legend Cruise Review by Johncn: Just Back - Legend vs. Conquest for Western Caribbean
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Just Back - Legend vs. Conquest for Western Caribbean
We live in Florida, and were looking for a family cruise for a group of 14 this summer. We had considered Carnival Conquest out of Miami, as we enjoyed the itinerary of that ship last December. However, Carnival Legend was showing cheaper fares out of Tampa at the time were were booking, so we decided to drive there and give Legend a try. For frame of reference notes, we have more cruises on Celebrity than Carnival, and have also done numerous trips on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
it's interesting to note that we were at the same ports as Conquest each day of this cruise...the same exact itinerary: Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, Grand Cayman. So, comparisons are nature for us having been on Conquest with the same itinerary and with a family group just last December.
Arrival and boarding in Tampa were fine, other than the congestion at the Terminal 2 entrance. That was a bit of a zoo, but sheriffs were directing traffic, and we moved on through fairly quickly. More
Parking was with The Parking Doctors about a half mile up Channelside Drive. Very easy to deal with, courteous and professional. We had three vehicles, and 14 people, so we went to the terminal to drop bags, and then the drivers drove to their lot, and dropped the vehicles. We had prepaid (Facebook discount coupon upon "liking them"), and only paid $56 per car for the week, as compared to $105 per week for Port of Tampa "self-park" fees. Shuttles were always running both while dropping off and picking up. We kept the keys, and they gave us a ticket, and off we went in the shuttle. No down time. Upon arrival they were at the pickup point across the street from the terminal within three minutes of our call. Highly recommended.
The ship was recently refurbed in dry dock, and it really did look new. The added "green" water slide was a hit with the kids and adults in our group, and the public spaces had a "Legend" them (Colossus of Rhodes, Athena, Medusa, etc.) that works for the ship.
The entire staff was much nicer, happier and attentive on Legend than our experience on Conquest in December. That cruise was right after a move of Conquest from New Orleans, so perhaps we were on Conquest at a bad time. Conquest is also bigger by over a thousand passengers, and had more venues, so it's not a direct comparison. We had a great cruise on Legend, though, and would recommend this ship with this crew to anyone.
The things that stick out are:
Friendly and attentive staff - From the Truffles dining room
Food - We had Anytime Dining. Ilona (head waiter / greeter for Anytime) was great, and gave our group of 14 the same two tables and wait staff each evening around the same time (7:15) we tended to eat. Never a wait, really, and with a group that large, I know that meant she was keeping the tables clear for us. Nada and Valeria assisted her, and did a fine job. Waiter (Melany), and her two assistants (Rafael and Vezna (sp.?) were excellent. They went out of their way to make sure the special dietary needs of one member of our group (gluten and dairy free only) were met. Nada would take his order the night before for the next day, and the staff made substitutions and replacements. Outstanding service in that regard. Solid service, and numerous special requests were met. As good or better than service on Celebrity in our experience. Food was good. Not fabulous, but very good, and always some comfort food items available. Nice diversity. Loved the lobster and prime rib on Elegant Night, had several good soups, and an excellent Sicilian Chicken dish. Deserts very good. No complaints. Pizza (24 hours) was very good. Chopsticks a family favorite for Asian food. Sushi place was nice, and not expensive. Burgers very good.
Room Service / Guest Services - We had four of our five cabins located next to each other on Verandah Deck (7) amidships. All were balcony cabins, and although there is a door that opens between them, there are only 30 or so "clamps" (not sure what else to call them) that hold the doors in place so that they can safely be opened. Our first morning at sea we requested, and got Guest Services to join all four of our balconies for a "super suite" effect. This was GREAT for a group like ours with lots of cousins and siblings. Note that all lead passengers of those cabins have to appear and sign a log book to request the clamps. Our cabins were 7-281, 7-285, 7-287 and 7-291. Our excellent and unobtrusive room steward was Ada from Indonesia. We had one day when the aircon did not seem to be cooling adequately, but Guest Services sent a technician immediately, and the issue was resolved. Krsytoph at Guest Services helped me with a billing issue, and went above and beyond to make sure we were OK with the resolution; he remembered me from Conquest in December, too, which was a nice touch.
Cabins - All were recently redone, clean, and well maintained. The new bathrooms look very nice with bright blue flooring, and aqua counter area. Well ventilated and never steamed up, either. Beds were exceptionally comfortable, and had feather down pillows and a mattress topper of some sort (we joined the twins into a queen). Loved the "Extended Balconies" in these rooms. They really are larger than expected, and each had one lounger, one chair and a small table...with lots of room left over.
Ports - Favorite was again Cozumel, and the Money Bar. Even with four other ships in Coz, the Money Bar was not crowded, and a quick taxi ride away for decent snorkeling, good drinks and free use of umbrella tables, sun loungers and hammocks on their little man made beach with rock steps to the water. Had a good experience at the Royal Palms on Seven Mile Beach (Grand Cayman) with the group...Fabian was a driver outside Royal Walter Pier (holding sign) who got us there with no muss or fuss or pre-planning at $4.00 per person. Came back and picked us up around 3:00 when he said he would, too. We got a cabana ($100 with table and four chairs, and four loungers), and had a blast. We brought our own floats. Kids did stand up paddle board from the on-site vendor, and enjoyed it ($20 for 30 minutes..no charge for the jetski rescue when the wind took the three girls way offshore...lol). Belize City is not our favorite, and although were planning to go to Caye Caulker on the ferry, we could not get everyone going in time due to a very awkward tender experience with a second Carnival ship in port (see below). Therefore, some of our group ended up staying on the boat, while others walked around the port a bit, and headed back early. Good diving using the Carnival Excursion desk in Rotan (Mahogany Bay stop) at Anthony's Key. We usually do our own thing, but Anthony's Key is a wonderful dive resort, and the ship excursion (2-tank dive) was reasonably priced...for the third time we've done this, I believe. We are all divers in the family, and have been impressed with Anthony's Key....if you dive, you won't be disappointed.
Entertainment - Loved the house band, and we usually don't. Cabbage Fever was a diverse group of quite good musicians assembled by Carnival for this ship from the US (3 members), New Zealand (1), Canada (2), Malaysia (1). High quality band..2 strong vocalists, good set list for dancing in the Atrium. Liked the other musical acts, too, but especially Will from Nashville. Enjoyed the kind of crazy piano bar host (TC?), but he finished his contract and is headed to ship out of Long Beach now. I was not a fan of using the DJ instead of live music for the various sail away and deck parties. Comedy club is hard to find (Firebird Lounge hidden below Follies Theater forward), but worth the search. Four comedians...two the first half, and two the second half. Three of the four appealed to my wife and I, and the fourth was OK. We only attended the Adults Only shows. Really liked the Firebird as a venue. Only saw a couple shows in Follies. The "Justin Illusion" magic show was good. The wandering magician (Magic Leo) was outstanding, and came to dinner several times, as well as schedule "up close" magic around the ship.
Worst things - Tenders in Belize were not very efficiently (in my opinion) handled. There was a ticketing system that was not explained in advance. It required going to the pool area and waiting in line to get tickets that were worn. By the time we figured this out, there was a long wait before we could get off the ship...this killed our chances for making it to Caye Caulker by ferry and back without some risk of cutting it too close. Buffet hours sometimes varied more than the the printed schedule, and Chopsticks and the salad bar were not open long enough for us. I find the drink prices pretty high, but doesn't everyone? The "Virtual Betting" in the casino is kind of hokey to me. The Sports Bar off casino did not have any pre-season NFL, and no tickers for sports scores. Not too many other negatives at all.
Summary - I was searching for a value summer cruise for our group, and ended up having a very nice experience on Legend at a good price. I thought that her staff and service made the experience a full head above Conquest.
OK..out of steam for this review. Hope this helps. Less
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