This is the 3rd cruise my wife and I have taken together, all on Carnival. What can I say? We like to have fun.
Before The Cruise
We booked the Amerisuites by the port for the night before sailing. You never know what's going to happen with airlines these days, but Delta was fine, and we arrived slightly ahead of schedule. Once in FLL and bags retrieved, I went to the phone bank and dialed the Amerisuites for their advertised shuttle. Don't do this. We waited curbside for an hour and a half, the monotony of it split up only by other hotel shuttles coming and going several times, and the 2 cellphone calls to Amerisuites, where I was assured each time the van would be there any minute.
Save yourself some aggravation and take a cab if you've booked the AmeriSuites. The other shuttles seemed fine, we saw the same Embassy Suites and Comfort Inn vans several times during our wait.
We arrived finally and went to grab a cart for our luggage, but there weren't any. So in MacGuyver-like fashion, I used the straps to secure the bags together so they would all roll, and we caravan'd to the elevators.
The hotel was OK, in any other city it's what you'd expect for around $70 a night. Of course, in Fort Lauderdale it was triple this. The rooms were a bit rundown and the furniture worn, but it was reasonably clean. If you like to stay in 'nice' hotels, I suggest booking something else, but you're going to pay for it. After a quick dinner at the Outback, which was just up the street, we retired back to the room for some much needed rest.
The next morning we went downstairs for the provided continental breakfast, which was, well, a continental breakfast. I really don't care about breakfast anyway, as long as there is coffee, and there was plenty of that, so I was happy. We again MacGuyver'd our bags downstairs for the 11:00 port shuttle, and found it was filled to overflowing with elderly tourists heading to the airport. We said we'd wait for the next one... Another mistake.
After waiting for the promised 30 minute return for 60 minutes, I was having deja vu, and called a cab. It's 15 bucks to the port, plus tip, a bargain to begin a vacation without stress.
Again, if you book Amerisuites, don't rely on the shuttle.
They do have this down to a science now. We arrived at 12:10, and by 1 had dropped our bags in our room and were having lunch on the lido. We met some of our group of CC Roll Call friends (something I highly recommend you participate in), had some fruity drinks, and I was introduced to the Bombay Martini (I think it should be bomb bay, thanks Papa). Needless to say, I was feeling no pain during the lifeboat drill which they held inside the dining room because of the rain. I just had to remember that if the ship is taking on water, run to the dining room, cause you won't leave hungry.
The Ship & Staff
The Legend is in great shape, very clean and well-maintained. The decor is a bit much, but what the heck. That's why we like Aloha shirts, Las Vegas and Carnival, right? But, really, what's up with the all the urns? The designer was evidently going for his urn-ed income credit... (sorry).
Our cabin was on the Empress deck, aft. Great for sail away and for privacy, but not so great for shows and activities, which are all the way forward. Maybe that's why I only gained a couple pounds on this cruise. The cabin, like the ship, was in great shape, no problems.
Brent, the Cruise Director, was pretty funny, usually. He reminded me a lot of that Canadian comedian who used to star on the show 'News Radio'. His entertainment staff was funny and nice, if not a bit goofball from time to time.
We only went to the dining room once on the first formal night, but found the service to be fine. And to our tablemates who were probably wondering if they were the reason, well, yes. Yes you were. :)
The wait staff was hilarious, and usually available. Remember Darius. He's a hoot.
Our Cabin Steward was great, always attentive, no problems there.
Room service was OK, always on time, just not always with the right order. Oh well, it added to the adventure!
Karaoke with Vince was pretty fun, and he's a good host. He actually played 'Cher' in the Legends show on the last night, more on that later.
Our favorite band aboard was in Satchmos, Music Motion, a Filipino band with a very western sound. The lead singer/drummer was this tiny little woman with a great big voice, awesome. We spent a lot of nights in Satchmos, with our CC friends Tim and Denise, closing down the place a few times. On those nights I'm not certain if the band was entertaining us, or we were entertaining them...
The shows were good, too bad we missed the hypnotist where another of our CC friends, Papa, stole the show. If anyone has video, I'd love to see it. The juggling guys were great, and you have to be to make such cornball humor funny. The dancers and singers were all good, from what I remember.
I had the pleasure of being Frank Sinatra in the Legends show, and was very grateful to Amy, my dancer escort, for pushing and pulling me to the right places. I have to admit, that was a blast. The other performers were funny, especially Elvis and James Brown (thanks guys), and it was an experience I'll remember for a long time.
Ports of Call
St. Maarten was great, so much fun. We took the Flags Beach combo, and went on a tour of both the Dutch and French sides, being deposited at Orient Beach for about 4 hours. Not enough time. Great beach, clear, warm water, great beachside bar, and it didn't take long to realize that Dorothy and I weren't in Kansas any longer.
St. Lucia is gorgeous, unbelievably so. We took the tour of Soufriere and Warm Mineral Baths, and while the drive was long and the stays short (too short), we did get to see a lot of the island. I was a little distressed at the poverty on St. Lucia... But if someone doesn't know they're poor, are they really poor? No one looked hungry, it was just a lot different than what I'm used to. The banter in the bus was a lot of fun, especially with two other CC friends, Mark and Deb.
St. Kitts is a beautiful island as well, but much more so in the north. We took the train, which we mistakenly thought was a rum punch party train. Nope. The drinks weren't flowing, more like trickling. We did get to see a lot of this island though, so while it wasn't a party experience, it was an educational one. OK, I prefer the party experience. But having Papa and Nana (more CC friends) onboard was nice, though. And I got to sit with the driver and play tour guide over the intercom on the way to the train station, so it wasn't a total loss.
Not that it was bad in any way, other than the fact that leaving a cruise is always bad. Because we had participated in the Legends show, and closed Satchmos with Tim and Denise, I was late getting our bags into the hall. They got them, though, and everything made it to where it was supposed to be.
If you want to go to bed early and have peace and quiet, and enjoy sitting around listening to your arteries harden through the strains of Schubert, DON'T BOOK A CARNIVAL CRUISE, especially the discount cabins right beneath a dance club. I'm sure you could find just what you are looking for onboard HAL, Celebrity, or any of the other floating mortuaries out there.
One of the nights at Satchmos we could actually hear each other speaking over the music. When this happens, you know something is very wrong.
Evidently, someone beneath Satchmos complained to the Pursers that the noise from the club was too loud, and so the staff told the band to turn it down. EXCUSE ME?
Other paying guests who DIDN'T opt for the steeply discounted rooms WANTED TO DANCE. This was ridiculous. The last night they turned it back up, thankfully.
All in all, a great cruise. We're now firmly entrenched in post cruise blues, and wanting to book again, with Carnival.