We began our cruise holiday in Buffalo, NY flying Delta Airlines to Tampa, FL. Since we live in southern Ontario, we often fly to US destinations via Buffalo to save on airfare. Our Personal Vacation Planner was very helpful in suggesting appropriate timing for a same-day arrival, so we did not require hotel accommodations in Tampa. Although Carnival does offer transfers from the airport, we found that a local taxi service was much faster and less costly.
When we arrived at the Port of Tampa, our taxi driver pointed us in the appropriate direction for check-in. There were various workers there to take luggage to the loading area. A small tip goes a long way in assuring the care of your personal belongings. Check in was secure and speedy. We were ushered into the ship's atrium. As first time cruisers, we found that there was little in the way of direction on where to go once we boarded. Since we are very easy-going people, we took the opportunity to explore. We found our way to the Lido Cafe, which was overcrowded with guests. We did find something appealing to eat, but had it not been for a very nice older couple sharing their table, we would have had nowhere to sit. After a long day of travelling, this was an annoyance. Soon, our room was ready and our ship was soon to set sail.
Our oceanview suite was located on the lowest guest deck (Riviera deck), toward the aft of the ship - #1240. We were very impressed with the large window, spacious cabin and appealing decor. There is plenty of storage, mini-bar, a safe, a hair-dryer, and a private bathroom stocked with some common toiletries. Our cabin stewards, Inkay (Thailand) and Leger (Haiti) were a highlight of our trip. They were very personable and did an outstanding job keeping our stateroom spotless during our entire vacation.
We loved the Carnival Legend. This ship features a variety of spaces that we enjoyed. The Follies Lounge Theatre, located on deck 2 & 3 is where we enjoyed nightly entertainment (comedians, dance productions, concerts, etc) and daily activities (bingo, love & marriage game, etc). Satchmos' Club on deck 2 is where we spent most of our late nights enjoying the live band and dancing (great bartender too). We spent a few afternoons exploring the Club Merlin Casino (deck 2) where we mostly played slot machines with minimal winnings. Other areas of the ship that we liked were the Gigabytes Arcade (when we just felt like being kids), the Unicorn pool, and the Sports deck (deck 11). The Lido deck had great Caribbean music everyday too! I also loved the gym, but didn't spend near enough time there (too busy trying all the foods!) We chose to participate in a wine pairing event at the Golden Fleece Steakhouse for a small cover charge ($10pp), where we met their sommelier and tasted a variety of fine wines. Nice experience. We found it very easy to navigate the vessel, since there are floorplans posted throughout.
The Carnival Legend team offers a great list of daily activities in the Carnival Caper, delivered to your stateroom nightly. We always had a few appealing activities to choose from. In my opinion, there was something there for guests of all ages. Some examples of the daily activities: Morning stretch, daily crosswords, yoga, ping pong tournament, bingo, ive carving demo, water wars, hairy chest competition, "on deck for the cure" walk, teddy bear workshop, sundae party, kids talent show, dodge ball, 80s music trivia, etc.
Our dining experience was EXQUISITE! We ate breakfast and lunch in the Unicorn Cafe daily, with the exception of 1 breakfast. The Unicorn Cafe offers a variety of buffet items but also has a few made-to-order stations for pizza, deli sandwiches (amazing!) and other foods. I loved the omelettes! Adequate seating was sometimes an issue. One morning, we chose to order room service for breakfast. They were very prompt, however, slightly inaccurate with our order (we had one item missing). For dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed nightly service from our waiters Senvil and Jayson (and dining manager, Suci) on the upper level of Truffles dining room. In addition to being very entertaining with their magic tricks and riddles, they were very helpful with our food allergy concerns. There were a large variety of items listed on the menu daily including a red meat, poultry, vegetarian, seafood and light options. I loved that you could order as many of any item as you liked, since there chocolate melting cake is DELICIOUS! Some of the most notable menu items were Shrimp Cocktail, Escargot Bourguinonne, Pumpkin/Cinnamon/Squash Vegetarian Pot Pie, and Lobster Tail. I definitely have a taste for the finer things. Since my husband doesn't like seafood at home, I mostly chose to enjoy the seafood options (which I loved) each night while we were away. One night, we chose to eat upstairs at the Golden Fleece Steakhouse for a cover charge of $30pp. The service was excellent. We were pleased with the wine selection also. Although we were very impressed with the portion sizes offered and our meals (rack of lamb), we felt that we preferred the environment of the Truffles Dining Room. If we were offered the opportunity again, we would likely decline.
The service on the Legend was wonderful. There was always a crew member available to offer assistance. We never felt hassled. We had one small problem activating our safe, and a quick call to the purser's desk had our issue resolved in under 5 minutes. Our bartenders were great. The poolside servers and theatre servers were wonderful. We found that we were often greeted by name and that they would remember our drinks of choice for another visit. Again, a small tip goes a long way. Also, since we were interested in finding out about their lives at home and on the cruise ship, I think alot of our cruise staff went out of their way to help us out.
Although we were sad to leave, disembarkation was a simple process. Being Canadian, we had to visit customs in the morning (6:30am - yuck!). It was a very quick process, and we had lots of time to relax with a hot breakfast before being called by luggage tag number to disembark. We were in one of the last groups since we had a later flight. The announcements proceeded quickly, and we were ushered off the ship and into a large area where our luggage was clearly tagged for pickup. There were taxis waiting in the same area (near the parking garage) where we had been dropped off, and we were on our way back home.
We were thrilled with our first cruising experience from Carnival Cruise Lines. We felt that they offered the best rates on an amazing itinerary and near-flawless service. We will not hesitate to book with Carnival Cruise Lines again in the future. I'm interested to see how another cruise line might compare. Our Personal Vacation Planner (Lenin Ferreras), stateroom stewards, Truffles waitstaff and pursers made our vacation very memorable. A big thank you to all of the Legend staff!!!