July 2007 Destination:
Western Caribbean Embarkation:
I am in my mid twenties and traveled with my mother and grandmother on this cruise. This is both my mother's and my third cruise though my grandmother has cruised quite a bit more. This was my first time on a newer ship (sailed previously on the Norway and the Dolphin Princess) and I really enjoyed it. We had hesitated to go with Carnival in the past due to its party-style reputation but were pleasantly surprised and would go with Carnival again. We chose this cruise last minute thus the convenience of the TampaMore
style="FONT-SIZE: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana"> port was a huge factor. We live just twenty minutes north of the city and travel to the port was just a breeze down I-75. We arrived at around to long lines that, thankfully, moved along quite efficiently. We were on the ship and in our stateroom by . Due to the last minute booking, only balcony and inside staterooms were available. We chose a balcony and it was worth every bit of extra money. I doubt we will ever go back to just a window or port hole. The room was surprisingly large and it never felt like the three of us were crammed in. The balcony was wonderful and enjoyed nightly. The Legend herself was (and I say this with affection) as gaudy as expected, looking something like a floating hotel in Las Vegas. One was never at a loss for something shiny to look at. I was disheartened when, prior to the cruise, I read reviews indicating that the ship was ill kept and unclean but I did not find this to be the case. Everything was immaculate and the ship's staff worked constantly to keep it that way. Anyone who has sailed on this ship will know that is no small feat considering the vast number of mirrors and reflective surfaces calling out to small noses and grubby fingers. I also found the Legend to be quite easy to navigate, something I have not experienced on older ships. The most impressive bit has to be the fact that I could barely feel this ship move. Never once did I feel the ship dock or leave port and often, only looking out the windows proved we were moving. I found the dining experience to be a mixed bag. Some things were amazing (chocolate melting cake, tiramisu, the vegetarian enchiladas, southwest eggrolls, the pizza) while others were not (the cheesecake that I would not call cheesecake, chewy steaks, dried out veggies, the neptune platter, flavorless school cafeteria style Chinese food). Other than the chewy steaks and dried out veggies which were cheerfully replaced, I think this is mostly a matter of personal taste though. The service in the dining room and on Lido deck was good and we used both areas daily. I found the dining room to be quite chaotic though this was due, not to the staff, but to other passengers wandering about and blocking already narrow aisleways. We rarely used any beverage service due to the prices but the bar staff was pleasant on the two occasions that we did. I would almost venture to say that the beverage staff was too attentive and often wished that I had sign that indicated I wouldn't be wanting a drink. Often we would have to say it multiple times, especially on the decks and in the lounges. The Legend offers all the usual activities and we enjoyed getting involved in quite a few of them. Chris is the best and funniest cruise director I have ever sailed with. Highlights for us included the always funny newlywed / not so newlywed game, battle of the sexes which the ladies won (though they definitely gave the guys longer than the allotted time and accepted some pretty shady answers), Bingo (especially with Jen), and the numerous opportunities to tour different areas of the ship. Being a cake decorator and involved in the theater, I was interested to see what kind of kitchens and backstage areas they had. We never felt like there was nothing to do, especially on that last sea day when all you're really doing is biding time until you get back to port. I can't really comment on the kids' activities other than to say that the kids, little ones right up to the often apathetic teenagers, really seemed to be enjoying themselves. From my perspective as a passenger without children, I was pleased because whatever it was the staff was offering the kids to do, it kept them from tearing about the ship. All the kids I ran into were actively engaged in some kind of constructive thing that they really seemed to be enjoying. Either the kids' program is really good or I sailed with a lot of really expert parents. Entertainment, like the dining, was a mixed bag. The comedians were funny and the balancing act was surprisingly enjoyable. We also really enjoyed the Blues Brothers tribute and highly recommend Sharon Cornes' show where she sings her favorite songs. The big disappointments were the two main productions, Jazz Hot and Take II. I am not a jazz fan so that mostly explains my lack of excitement about Jazz Hot but Take II is a mess of a trainwreck that I should have walked out of. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the dancers, singers, or technical staff on the ship. On the plus side, the dancers are quite technically skilled, the singers were good (I can't say enough about the amazing Sharon Cornes), the technical aspects went off with only one noticeable flaw, and the costumes were beautiful. Take II's problems are purely a lack of quality in the script itself. Another issue I had during shows was the fact that it was hard to concentrate when beverage staff were bobbing up and down the aisles with distracting flashlights to take drink orders. Annoying. For the shore excursions, we booked through Carnival, enjoyed all of them, and never felt like we had paid too much. In Grand Cayman, we took the tour of the island and were pleased to see the area rebounding so well from Hurricane Ivan. Our tour guide made quite a convincing appeal for moving to the island. In Cozumel, we took a highlights tour that included time to shop. Our tour guide, Moy, was great and we wished we had had more time at this port. In Belize City, we again opted to tour the area. I am glad we did because, had we not, we would know nothing about this country. Belize City's pier area and shore excursions are targeted specifically to cruising tourists and mask what really lies behind them at the heart of the city. I know that everyone recommends the cave tubing and water sports activities but I recommend taking some time to walk beyond the water front to find out about this port and the people who call it home. It is a real eye opener. My favorite port was Costa Maya. We opted not to book an excursion as nothing looked appealing. We knew we made the right choice when we heard others complaining about the tours they had chosen. Costa Maya is a neat little place that has a giant salt water pool surrounded by little shops that are perfect for last minute acquisition of those cliche Mexican souvenirs as well as some great finds in the silver jewelry department. We slept in, ambled off the ship, checked out all the shops, and then floated around in the pool until the sunscreen gave out. Truly relaxing. Debarkation was generally smooth though it was held up for a while by a couple who couldn't be bothered to go to immigration and had to be searched for. We chose general debarkation because my mother and grandmother are notorious over packers. The only real problem involved a piece of luggage which got placed in the wrong number group and upon its location, was found to be so thoroughly mangled that we will have to file a claim and have it replaced (good bit: this is proving to be an easy enough process thus far). Over all, I have to say this is the most fun I have had on a cruise and believe me, the Norway (sigh) was a tough act to follow. I will definitely cruise with Carnival again and would recommend it to others.Less
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