Friends, Family and Fellow Cruisers,
Once again, Curt and I had an unbelievable adventure thanks to our Master Cruise Counselor. He has put together 18 of our 21 cruises and each one of them is even better than the last! Thanks!!
We left Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 19th and without event arrived in Fort Lauderdale just as the complimentary shuttle ceased service to the Ramada Airport/Cruise Terminal. A quick 10 minute taxi got us into the hotel just shy of 1am and we settled in for the night. The hotel is clean, the beds comfy and the employees wonderfully cheerful, even in the middle of the night. The complimentary breakfast (6am-10am) mirrors a cruise ship buffet and was a great start to the day. A+++ hotel!
We caught the 10:45 am shuttle to the pier. It was a short 10 minutes from the hotel and we waited in the van as our luggage was unloaded. We identified our luggage for the porters and walked into the terminal. After going through 4 check-in stations (15 minutes), we walked on the ship and dropped off our luggage in our room. We were checking out the buffet by noon. Although many do not take pleasure in the elaborate design of the Legend, we enjoyed every little aspect of the sometimes complicated, funky and colorful design. It is a very busy ship in respect of decoration, but, there is never a dull view!
Our cabin was #8272, located aft, overlooked the rear of the ship. Though it was a great location and the view never obstructed, it will not be one we choose again as the constant char from the engine stacks and debris from other passengers thrown down on the balcony did not allow us to enjoy the area as we expected.
The ship left FLL without incident and we were off for two wonderful sunny days at sea. The aft pool area became our hang out and it was usually quiet until noon. By the third day this area also became covered with ash and it got to be quite a mess by the end of the week. The deck was covered with a black mud and the pool and hot tub were filled with black soot that was never cleaned out. If you spent any time in the hot tub, small (very clean!!) pieces of sharp black soot was powered into every crack of your body—quite an experience to pick out!!! As our cabin was immediately below this area we soon found out where all the ash went when the deck was cleaned each evening....right on our balcony!!!
We had early dining at a table for 2 in the upper balcony of Truffles Dining Room and found the food to be A+. We did not find anything we could not finish and found many things we wished we had ordered! The selections were diverse and the presentation worth taking photos. I can't imagine anyone not finding something to their liking. Our service was impeccable as it always is on Carnival.
Entertainment was another story. Although the shows we did see were pleasing, we found that more than ½ of them did not start until 10:30. With dinner at 5:45 and after a full day in the sun, we were not able to stay awake that late to take advantage of what might have been a great show. Carnival might want to rethink a few more early shows!
We can't really speak of the casino or of the drink service.
We arrived on schedule in Colon, Panama. We had visited Panama twice before and this time decided to take the Aerial Tram and Ecological Encounter. It is a 5 hour tour into Panama's neo-tropical forest located at the Gamboa Resort. It is a one hour bus ride to the resort where we were greeted with an icy drink and clean restrooms. We then transferred about 5 minutes to the orchid gardens, butterfly house, frog and reptile caves and the amphibian exhibit. This part was a bit like going to the zoo. The aerial tram was very green. I expected to see a little wild life, but only saw a termite hive hanging from a tree and heard the titter of a few birds. Once to the top of the tram, (about 30 minutes of travel sitting in a hanging wire bucket) we walked for about 5 minutes to a tall look-out structure. At first, looking up I thought I was not going to be able to walk to the top, but, there were not stairs, only a path going up a slight 11 degree incline each story...about 10 stories. It was an easy walk and well worth the effort. Once to the top we were rewarded with a view of ships (and a submarine) going through the Panama Canal. Talk about picture taking opportunities!!! After having gone through the canal by ship, small tour boat and now watching from above, I think we have had the ultimate canal experiences and can move on to other ports!! We transferred down (another 30 minutes by tram) and back to our bus where restrooms and a nice cold lunch awaited us. A+++ for the great tour, tour guide, clean bathrooms, education and lunch!!!
That evening during dinner just as we were leaving port, we noticed that the ship stopped. We later found out that 8 people missed the ship and one other had to be taken from the ship for health reasons. Not long after that an announcement was made that we would not be visiting Limon, Costa Rica and that for the safety of the passengers we would be porting at Isla Roatan, Honduras. We were told of the unfortunate incident that changed our itinerary. Passengers of the Carnival Liberty were accosted by thieves and the incident concluded with the death of one of the thieves. Needless, Carnival felt that visiting the port so soon after the incident was not in our best interest. By the next morning new shore excursions were posted and the old shore excursions from Costa Rica had been credited to our account.
We booked a zip lining tour in Isla Roatan that for us involved a lower price and less travel than the one we had booked for Costa Rica. What a thrill to fly through the trees without a care in the world. My husband and I are both over 50 and have visited the buffet a few more times that we care to admit and yet we had no trouble with this tour. We were properly harnessed and instructed and it truly was momentous zipping the 11 stations and then onto Tabyana Beach. A+++
We had several hours to relax and enjoy Tabyana Beach. I have never been to a more beautiful beach on a more perfect day. Unfortunately, a gentleman from our ship had a heart attack while snorkeling and died on the beach not long after we arrived. It should be noted that there was no trained first aid personnel or first responders at this beach and that it was from the concern and training of fellow passengers that an attempt to help was made. On an island he did not expect to visit, snorkeling in the most beautiful water you could ever imagine, a soul was taken to heaven. It really was as if the most magnificent day had been painted just for him.
We visited Belize 3 years ago and quite truthfully we were not all that impressed nor were we looking forward to visiting again. This time was different. We booked the Cave Tubing trip. A short ride on an air-conditioned bus over some really rough road (and lots of smoke from some ground fires) got us to our first stop where we could change, rent water shoes and a locker...then; it was off to the Sibun River. After a 20 minute walk through semi-rough and slippery terrain carrying an inner tube we arrived at the jump off station of our cave tour. The first splash in the river was a tad refreshing but immediately the water became most pleasant. The tubing voyage lasted about an hour in quiet darkness as well as shallow rapids. It was relaxing and thrilling all at one time. After getting out of the water we were treated with an "unBelizable" lunch of stewed chicken, black beans and rice, mashed potatoes and punch. Everyone must have had a great time because our tour guide said most of us slept all the way home!! Will we look forward to returning again? You better Belize it! This was an A+++ tour.
After another wonderful day in paradise, sadly came our last day at sea.
Waking up the next morning came the realization that zip lining one day and cave tubing the next might not have been a good combination for this AARP couple as we could hardly lift our arms!!! Thanks goodness it was a quiet day at sea!
We had a late flight and decided to do the Everglade Tour before heading to the airport. It was a diversion that was not unpleasant and made getting off the ship very easy!! Did it, done it.
For me the most memorable part of the trip actually was on the plane coming home. I sat next to a wonderful gentleman named Marvin from Walled Lake, Michigan who was about to turn 100 years old. What a gift to be able to speak with him and listen to just a few of the tales of his life. He had just completed a cruise with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and was planning his next adventure even before this one was complete. A flight never went so fast or was more enjoyable. It's a wonderful life!
Now that we are home and unpacked, the fun begins...planning our next cruise to Poland and Sweden. Any one want to join us?
Curt and Linda