This is my 4th overall cruise. It was my 2nd on Carnival. I traveled with my wife and my in-laws to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary. Different people chose different cruises for different reasons. Some chose based on ship amenities, dining options, port interests, affordability, entertainment, staterooms. I'm one of those guys that values EVERYTHING in my cruise experience so I believe my review is very fair and inclusive.
INTRODUCTION Let me begin by saying that if this is your 1st cruise, it will be the greatest vacation of your life. Let me also continue by saying that if you've cruised before on Carnival then you will be quite happy with this ship but if you have cruised before on a different cruise line then you will be slightly disappointed with the Legend.
EMBARKATION The ship has a capacity for 2600 passengers. We cruised during the week of Thanksgiving. I was told that the ship had 2577 aboard. With that being said, I was impressed with the quick on boarding process. Carnival had lots of porters, staff and security to help everyone board quickly and efficiently. I was also surprised with the passenger diversity. Carnival has a perception of being less expensive thus attracting young college aged partiers. This was not the case. The ages ranged from Newlyweds (119 of them according to the Cruise Director) to loads of Nearly-Deads (i.e seniors). I saw a great age range. Even in my own party. I'm 31, my wife is 25 and my in-laws are in the early 50's but in case they are reading this review, they look like they are in their 40's.
STATEROOMS Because of something that occurred many years ago, our rooms were essentially free this cruise. The only caveat was we were unable to select or pay for an upgrade. Thus we were assigned inside cabins on the forward of the ship. All things considering, I was quite pleased. If you are a first time cruiser you must recognize that despite what room you have it will likely feel like a small box compared to traditional hotel rooms. Remember ships try to compact space. The beds and sheets were remarkably comfortable and there was lots of closet space considering how small the room was. The TVS had limited channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, 3 movie channels and 7 Carnival Legend channels). Just a general tip for all cruisers wherever you may go, Always book a room at mid-ship (to avoid being rocked to sleep) and if feasible, always book a balcony room. By the way, I give an A+ to our cabin steward.
DINING I would say the food on this ship was very average compared to other cruises that I've been on. Breakfast and Lunch are served each day on the Lido deck. They are buffets. The menu rarely changed and in general it was hit or miss. Remember it is a cruise ship and it's hard to cook for 2600 people for each meal. Dinner is what sets most cruises a part. Even though our waiter was warm and friendly, he was often clueless about how the food was prepared and seemed to struggle with special requests. The menu in general was very unimaginative and lacked variety. The dessert menu also was the same each day except 1 new thing would be introduced usually that was fat free, which was considerate. The Maitre' D was non existent except during tip time. The ship has a specialty restaurant. It's called The Golden Fleece and we went there 1 night for dinner. Let me just say that it may have been one of the greatest dining experiences of my life. It was the most incredible service and friendliest dining environments anywhere. You can tell these people loved the jobs at the Golden Fleece. On top of that, the food was prepared to order (steaks) and absolutely delicious. With that being said, it cost $30 a person + tip. My in-laws took care of the bill, which was very kind. My personal philosophy is when you already paid for free food; I try to avoid paying extra for other food. I want to mention one other thing about the regular dining. Every night, except when we did the specialty restaurant, an Indian fellow named Prassana would come to our table. His job title with Carnival is "Table Artist." He is the only one on the ship. He is a magician and he did a few tricks every night for our table. Here's the thing. He is supposed to do different tables each night so that everyone gets to see at least one trick but we personally asked him to come back and he did. I can confidently say that his daily magic was the highlight of the cruise. His tricks were AMAZING and we happily tipped him on the last night. I give the Legend Dining a "C." Had it not been for our 1 night at the Golden Fleece and our personal Table Magician; the score would have been lower.
SHIP LAYOUT The first thing experienced cruisers usually do when they board is explore the ship. It's a must to gain familiarity. The upper sports deck (Deck 10) had a 9-hole mini-golf course and basketball hoop. The other side had a running track and a very big waterslide (kids will love it). The deck below had all 3 pools. One located at the Forward, The 2nd located at mid-ship, which is where most of the action took place and the 3rd was in the Aft, which was the quieter part of the ship. Each pool was accompanied by a hot tub, which gets crowed at peak times. Everything else on the ship was located on floors 2 and 3. It included way too many lounges. I mean it. There were so many lounges that some were just left vacant with no bar service. I think there could have been a better use for that space. One in particular had a mini-stage, which also was rarely, if ever used. The ship had a library, which doubled as an Internet cafe. Save your money and email when you get home. There was a card room that seemed to be bustling with people playing board games and such. There was a nice atrium, which can be found on most ships, a shopping district (5-6 stores), and a piano bar, which I enjoyed but didn't get much buzz from other passengers. A coffee cafe, which oddly charged for it services and thus received little attention from passengers. A Sushi bar, which was a HUGE hit with my wife and mother-in-law, a Sports bar, which doubled as a Cigar lounge. My father-in-law and I enjoyed that experience. It had a much larger casino then I've seen on most ships but it was a popular place for this cruise crowd. The ship obviously had a decent dining venue and of course an awkwardly designed theater. The ship had a Children's area and a Teen area. It also had a Spa / Gym, which I will discuss next. The actual Ship layout I give an "A-"
THE SPA Let me make this really clear. Save your money. This spa was EXTREMELY overpriced and very tacky. Now one may say "It's a cruise, treatments should be more money." Let me give you an example. At home, my wife and I can get a nice 50 minutes couples massage for about $130. This same treatment on Royal Caribbean two years ago was $195. Expensive but understandable considering it was a cruise. On Carnival Legend that same treatment is $265. That's flat out obnoxious. Most treatments on carnival were 60 minutes and cost between $100 and $130 each. I ended up splurging for some because I love my wife and I wanted to keep her happy? I begrudgingly got a treatment for myself and although the lady did a nice job, she did one thing that really annoyed me. She was very pushy about selling my overpriced ointments at the end of the treatment. This evidently is something all the specialists do in the spa. My wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law all experienced the same pushiness from various spa specialists. The spa was clean, had a nice gym and an indoor hot tub that evidently not many knew about. Because of the cleanliness, indoor hot tub and nice gym equipment, I give the Spa a grade of "D." Treatment pushiness and costs is what brings it down.
ACTVITY CREW This is probably the first cruise where I can rattle the names of all the activity crew. Our Cruise Director was Jen Baxter. She was warm, engaging and had a fun Liverpool accent. Its hard to give her a an accurate grade because she does a lot of behind the scenes stuff we don't know about but the shear fact that I can recall her name leaves me inclined to give her an "A+" Her assistants were named Craig, Jamie, Robin, Kristen and Seretta. I remember their names for two reasons. A. I do a lot of activities on board so I often familiarize myself with these staff members. B. They appeared to work much harder then the activity coordinators on most cruises. They took the time to learn our names, find out where we were from and they truly seemed interested in everything happening on the ship. Here is my fondest memory. One day we docked in Belize. Because of the shallowness of the water, the ship needed to transport passengers by tender boat. This is fairly common on most ships. It requires smaller boats to take passengers ashore. Usually takes about 5-10 minutes via tender. On this particular day, the water was quite choppy and the boat tender process was tediously slow. The activity coordinators were in charge of getting 2600 passengers off the ship in an organized manner. You can tell that this was an enormously stressful task yet every one of those activity coordinators had smiles on their faces and patiently answered everyone's questions. Most of the activity crew were from England except one gal, who I believe was from Michigan. I think I usually associate fun and British together so maybe my fondness was a personal preference. Cruise Director and Activity Staff all get A+ in my books.
SHIP ACTIVITIES Let me be honest. The activities were terrible. This was not a fault of the activity crew because they did their best to make them less lame but unlike most other cruises, there was very little to no activities. By Day 4 it became a joke. Essentially their activities included trivia contests. On Sea days they did a few extra things but if you are like me, I enjoy more than just trivia. The best ship activity was the All-Exclusive ship tour, which I thought was incredible but it did cost $95. It included a tour of all 5 kitchens on the ship, backstage tour, crew areas, control rooms and meet with the captain on the bridge. We got keepsake photos, complimentary champagne and some other goodies. You have to take this tour and trust me, its far better then I can even describe in this review. You learn everything about the ships operations. Overall I give the Ship activities a "D."
PORTS We had 4 port stops. The first was in Grand Cayman. Obviously the ports are what you make of it. We did a mini tour to see the Rum factory, Turtle Farm and to see the town of Hell. Yes that's the real name of a town in Grand Cayman. There are several other things on the island (ala Dolphin Center, Stingray Beach). It was a good stop. The next island was Cozumel. Unfortunately I can't give it a fair rating because we got stuck in torrential down pour. The next stop was Belize. The day started off rough because there was an issue with the boat tenders but eventually the day got started. My wife and I did an adventure called "Raiders of the Lost Mayan Cave." In truth it was not quite what I expected but it was still a very fun trip. It involved the exploration of underground caves, zip lining, repelling and walking across suspension bridges. The last stop was Isle Roatan. It's a small port in Honduras. Not many adventures to choose from due to time constraints. I heard from other passengers that the ones offered were ok. All involved animal encounters. We got off the ship and did some last minute shopping, which was good. I give the ports a B+
FORMAL NIGHTS This was a big problem with the ship. Apparently there was a miscommunication. Most cruises have 1 formal night. This ship had two. Apparently the word "formal" means different things to different people. My definition is suit and tie. My father-in-law insisted we bring our tuxes so were the only ones dressed that fancy on the first night. Most of the other passengers had on nice slacks and button down shirts. We felt overdressed. The second formal night was supposed to be optional. I opted with the button down shirt and slacks and many of the other passengers threw on tuxes. I then felt underdressed. I couldn't win. I t was partly was my fault but I also blame the Carnival for not better informing passengers before the cruise what their definition of formal nights include. The attire miscommunication was not my biggest problem. My problem lies within the area of photography. To say that Carnival has an obnoxious photography program would be an understatement. Let me take a step backward and say that every where you go on that ship there is some carnival photographer waiting to take your picture. I would later find out that they take 35,000 pictures in 1 week. They hassle you at dinner, getting off at ports, on the decks. Hek, I'm surprised they didn't find a way into my stateroom. The worst time is right before dinner (especially formal nights). They set up about 12 backdrops, many of which cause's major people traffic in major walk areas of the ship. Then on top of that they make it nearly impossible to find your picture in the gallery. If you are lucky enough to find it then you can purchase a 5 by 7 for $21.00. I recognize this is something that happens on all cruises but The Legend is the worst offender of this annoyance. I Gave Them a C- in formalities.
CHILDRENS AREA I can't give an honest assessment since we don't have any children. This much I do know. They had the Noah's Ark kids program that appeared to be a cool looking area. They also had the CO2 club for teens. I saw a lot of kids running amuck on the ship but it seemed to temper down after dinner.
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT I got to be honest; I was blown away by how great the shows were. I'm really into these kinds of things and it's very difficult to impress me anymore. The shows included two different comedians. The guy on night 1 was not good at all and had me worried about shows to come. The guy on night 2 was maybe one of the best comics I've seen in my life. As a guy who once did standup comedy myself that's a huge salute. Apparently he is a regular on The Legend and his name was Ronnie Bullard. On two nights the Carnival Dancers and singers performed. I was amazed by their talent and production value, especially the sets and costumes. I usually don't pay much attention to costumes but after their shows, I guarantee you will too. One night there was a juggling comedian. I'd give him an A+ for juggling but an F in comedy. Then there was a magician named Puck. He did a lot of tricks that we've seen before but his presentation style was so good that it made you feel that you were seeing it for the first time. On the following night, Puck also did hypnosis and boy was that a hoot. Just terrific. On another night they had a guy who did balancing act it was our favorite show on the ship. I don't want to blow his act but it was the most amazing balancing I've ever seen. The last night on the ship was "Legends Night." Apparently passengers who won impersonation contests at Karaoke got to perform with the Carnival dancers and band. My father-in-law and I skipped out because we thought it would be lame. According to my wife and mother-in-law, it was surprisingly entertaining. I gave Ship Entertainment an A+
TID-BITS The best thing to do is walk around ask other passengers about things on the ship to get the inside scoop on stuff. For example, most people don't know that the pizza station on Lido deck and the frozen yogurt machines are served 24 hours. Speaking of the frozen yogurt, there is one machine that actually has strawberry frozen yogurt, which is to die for. That machine is on the Lido deck in the Aft.
Even though there are three hot tubs on Lido. The 4th hot tub is the best. Its located indoors in the gym, holds more people and is cozier.
Sushi is free and located on deck 2 from around 5pm -8pm each day.
The Sports bar doubles as a cigar lounge and the cigar prices are relatively inexpensive for cruise standards. As far as the sports are concerned, the bar offers two things you can't get in your stateroom. ESPNS 1 + 2 + loads of high definition screens. My father-in-law liked the sports bar. Not many ships have that kind of thing.
Seating in the Follies Theater is a bit tricky. There are lots of poles in the way and loads of obstructive views. My advice is to get there earlier and sit in center orchestra level. The next best seats are on the mezzanine level.
Carnival Legend gives you a daily Caper, which tells you what programs are offered the following day + times that pools, lounges, casino is open. What it doesn't tell you is the weather outlook on the ports and at sea. My advice is to go to the guest relations desk and they gladly give you a weather forecast. This will avoid you being stuck in a rain storm. You can also cancel an adventure if the weather doesn't look promising.
There is A LOT of smoking on this ship. My wife and mother-in-law were not pleased. Apparently you can smoke in your staterooms, which seems very dangerous to me not to mention it stinks up the hallways. Smoking is also permitted on all outdoor areas. Thus the Lido deck smelled like an ashtray. There is also smoking allowed in most of the lounges. Obviously I did my cigar smoking only in the sport bar.
Overall Cruise Experience on Carnival Legend "B-"
That's all I can think of for now. I invite you to email me and I'll be happy to answer any other questions to the best of my ability. Ryan firstname.lastname@example.org