Let me start by saying we really had no idea what to expect. This was a graduation trip for my daughters from their grandparents. My daughters both 18, me and the wife, and her parents. My wife's parents are VERY experienced cruisers. My family, on the other hand had never seen a big Cruise ship, so the approach in Tampa was breathtaking. Seeing the Legend dwarf the buildings around it got us even more excited than we already were.
We arrived at the port sometime around 11:30. Unloaded our bags (Tip # 1: get a sky cap...it's worth the tip for him to take the bags), parked the car and got in line. The line was long, but no more than the security line at the Airport. Once we checked in and had our sail and sign cards, we took a group picture...and off we went. Once on board we went straight to the Lido deck for lunch. Our rooms weren't ready until about 1:30 or so, but by the time we finished lunch, they were open. (Tip # 2: Pack your bathing suit and some clothes for dinner in a small carry on bag with wheels since the luggage sometimes doesn't arrive till later.) We explored the ship a little and went up on deck for the sail away. You got to be on top for the pass under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the ship only clears it by about 6 - 10 feet it is unreal, looks like you're going to hit it.
Back down to our rooms and ready for dinner. Dinner was really a highlight for us. I've seen many people complain about having to dress for dinner, come on folks, 7 nights out of your whole life? You'd be surprised how good it feels to dress a little, eat good food and have a real conversation. My daughters LOVED it. Adrian was our Head waiter and Gedde was his team waiter. They were awesome. Desi, the Maitre D', was awesome as well. Dinner was definitely an affair to remember. "It's Showtime". I'll just leave it at that.
For all our other meals we ate on the Lido deck at the buffets. There was American, Italian, Caribbean, Asian, Sandwiches, Salad, Fruit, Pizza, Ice Cream, and lots of other desserts. If you couldn't find something you liked to eat, then you have a problem. The food was great all over the ship in spite of the amount that is prepared each meal.
There is no way anyone could be bored on this ship Lots of activities on board, Shows, Karaoke, Piano bar, Sports bar, Trivia, Live music, the pools, the waterslide, and sunbathing. My kids are too old, but everyone raved about the Camp Carnival activities for the kids. If you have 18 - 20 yr olds....make them go to the meet and greets they'll meet others their age to hang out with and stuff.
Jen was our cruise director and she was great. I may be disappointed in any other director in the future because she set the bar so high. The entire crew went out of their way to make us feel at home and a part of their family. Carnival should be proud to have employees like them.
Read my port reviews for our excursion details.
On the last night we had to have bags packed and out by 12:00am. The next morning in Tampa , we got up about 8:00am, went up to the Lido Deck and ate breakfast, by about 10:00am we were off the ship, had our bags (Tip # 3: get a sky cap...its worth the tip for him to take the bags to the curb for you) and through customs.
All in all it definitely exceeded our expectations. So much so that we are already planning our next cruise! Thanks Carnival for making our first cruise a memorable one.