Just back from our 7 night cruise on Carnival Legend. I want to first thank all the others who posted reviews, they were such a help to me. This was a very "last minute" cruise and I was able to very quickly get all the information I needed right here on the CC site!
About one week before this cruise, my parents sent us a Christmas check and said to "do something fun as a family". My husband felt that paying bills would be "fun" but I set him straight and told him I was sure that was NOT what my parents intended! Ha ha So, I picked up the phone and called a good friend of mine, Holly. She and her husband own The Store for Travel in Miami. I told her how much money we had to spend and within hours we were booked in a balcony room on the Carnival legend!! We waited and told our twin 16 year old girls just 2 nights before we left. What a fun surprise and I wish you could have all seen their faces when we told them we were leaving in 2 days for a Caribbean Cruise! We live in the mountains of western North Carolina and it has been pretty cold here! So the thought of going somewhere warm sounded pretty good to all of us!
I did have to jump into "high gear" to get ready for Christmas as I knew when I got back it would be too late to mail presents, shop, etc. The next few days where a whirl wind of activity. My days were filled with shopping, wrapping, mailing, packing and every spare moment I was getting onto this site to read and try to plan what we should do at each of the ports! I kept dreaming of the moment I would be on the ship, drinking some fruity drink with an umbrella in it! This kept me motivated to get the work done! By the time we left, all our Christmas cards and presents were in the mail. I had shopped and wrapped all the presents for my family and felt totally ready for Christmas. I was now ready to relax!
On Saturday, December 12th we drove from North Carolina to Ocala, Fl where we had dinner with dear friends of ours....they are out twins godparents and we had not seen them in a few years. We stayed at a hotel in Ocala and on Sunday woke up and had a leisurely drive on into Tampa. I will say that this is the first trip we have had 4 drivers as my teen girls got their licenses back in September. My husband and I actually watched a movie on the car DVD player while the girls part of the way!
EMBARKMENT: We arrived at the port about 1pm and used the valet parking. Very easy except for the slow line to pay for the parking. We then waited in the Carnival check in line for about 45 min. before it was our turn to get checked in. A very friendly woman took our credit card number and we were off to our room.
STATEROOM: We had a very nice room with a balcony a little behind mid-ship. I was worried with 4 of us that it would be crowded, but we did great all week. I took the advice from this board and brought one of the over the bathroom door hangers with all the compartments (think for shoes) This was a life savor for us with 2 teen girls!! There were no drawers in the bathroom so this held all the make-up, hair dryers, flat irons, etc. You wouldn't believe how much 2 teen girls can bring!! ?
We had what Carnival calls and "extended balcony". It had 3 chairs and a small table. We loved sitting out on our balcony but didn't have the greatest of neighbors! We had a chain smoker next door. As if that wasn't bad enough, the man spoke on his cell phone much of the trip In addition; he had 2 young children with him that were very misbehaved. We decided they had "three strikes against them"! But we just tried to take it all in stride and not let it ruin our trip. We did remember to pack a packet of Windex wipes and were able to keep our glass balcony area spot free...made our beautiful view even better! One last note about the balconies....the doors slam shut if you don't hold them. You could hear doors slamming all the time...not just the ones next to you...but from a long way away. This was a bit annoying but I am sure Carnival wants to make sure the doors are not left open. Other then that, I did enjoy having a balcony and it was a great place to escape from the crowds of the ship.
Our girls loved the towel animals each night and we have photos of each one of them! Our room steward always had a smile on his face and took great care of us. One thing I did notice on this cruise was that they never put away our two extra beds during the day. One a previous cruse, they would always make the sofa bed back to a sofa and put the ceiling bed up during the day. It did make the room more crowded when the beds were out. I am sure we could have asked the steward to put them away but never did.
Well....we never went hungry and all the food was great! I always enjoy meals that I don't have to plan, shop for, prepare and clean up after!! I do want to mention what great service we were given in regards to my daughters food allergies. Every night, a sweet woman came to our table with the next evening's menu and went over exactly what my daughter could eat. They even went out of their way to make special desserts for her without milk or dairy products! I really didn't expect this kind of individual attention and it was so nice not to have to worry that she might eat something that would make her sick!
My husband and I went one night to the steakhouse and enjoyed the food there. And the girls enjoyed having dinner on their own!
FUN TIME: My girls and I attended most of the shows each night. (My husband usually ended up in bed asleep!) One of my daughters has taken ballet since she was 3 years old. She really enjoyed all the shows with the dancers and felt they were all pretty good shows. I will say we were a bit surprised by how small most of the costumes were....thong leotards and lots of cleavage showing. To me it was borderline for a "family" show time. I am just glad I didn't have teen boys with me! Of course you could see just as much skin up at the swimming pool! Ha ha We have tried to teach our girls to dress modestly and so I guess we are just old fashioned in this respect. We went to one of the comedians and another show with a man juggling things....they were good also.
We enjoyed the pools and workout room. Bingo was the extent of our gambling. We came home with 4 really nice 8 x 10 photos of our family. My girls bought some Internet time as I guess they found 7 days way too long to not be in touch with their friends on Facebook! :) The girls never did attend any of the teen activities so I can't rate that program.
PORTS: Grand Cayman: We rented a jeep right near the dock from Cayman Auto Rentals. About $100 for all taxes and fees. We put the top down and drove around the Island. We went to the Turtle Farm. I enjoyed this way more then I thought I would. We all loved holding the baby turtles and petting the larger ones. From the farm, we drove to "Hell" and took some photos. Then drove around the east end of the Island and ended up at Rum Point. This was a GREAT area. So pretty and also so quiet! Nice beach and snack bar where we had a great lunch. We then drove back to town and returned the jeep and did a little shopping before boarding the ship. A great day!
Cozumel: We did The Amazing Cozumel Race and this is the only ship excursion we did on the whole trip. Here is a description that I wrote for someone that posted a question about the race: I thought it was really well done...staff was top notch and they whole event was very professionally done. They meet you at the ship and then you all taxi to the downtown area. From there they explain the race and rules, etc. They even give you a cell phone in case you get lost! Then you get your first clue. Each clue will lead you to a place around the town. Once you get there then you figure out your next clue. the whole race took a little under 2 hours and at the end all teams have drinks together at a cute restaurant. We purchased lunch there and the food was good. My teen girls said this was one of their favorite activities of the cruise. There is a fair amount of walking or running if you want to win...and it is HOT there. Bring water with you and at least one of you will have to snorkel for a clue so wear or bring a suit...there is a place to change. I think it is a fun family activity...you have to work together to figure out the clues and it took us to places we would not have gone to on our own. At the end they will get you a taxi back to the ship area...but we decided to stay in the downtown area to shop. Tons of shops selling inexpensive things. The taxi ride back to the ship is about $7 but we ended up taking one of the horse drawn carriages for $20. My girls loved this! Be sure to negotiate everything you buy...they will come down on prices several times if you hold out! Even the horse driver started out wanting about $35. We did give him a good tip!
Belize: Based on a CC recommendation, I booked a private tour with Nacho and Cynthia. (You can google Nacho and Belize and get their website) For $100 per person we were taken in their van to go zip lining and cave tubing. Nacho and Cynthia are a really sweet couple and made our day a lot of fun. Nacho gives you tons of information about Belize and the area. We loved being by ourselves and not on a bus with lots of other people! We enjoyed both activities but not sure I would do them again. Both were crowded and you felt rushed through the zip lines. The caves were neat but again, lots of people made this feel more like a ride at Disney. We enjoyed our ride back with Nacho giving us a lot of hard riddles to solve. One of my girls wanted to get some Belize coffee and they took us right to the store that sold it. They then dropped us right back at the cruise ship. A very easy way to go and I highly recommend using Nacho and Cynthia.
Roatan: We were scheduled to meet up with a dive master for a 2 tank dive. I lined this up on my own as we have a friend that is a dive master at one of the resorts. He picked us up and took us to the dive shop. But a front was passing through and the seas were very rough, so the decision was made to not dive! Instead, our friend Julian, took us on a Island tour. We really enjoyed getting to see the Island with someone that lives there but not on a bus tour. We stopped by the West End and really enjoyed the shopping here. Lunch was also at a cute place there but can't remember the name. We got back to the pier area with enough time to shop at the new facility. They have done a very nice job with this new dock.
DISEMBARKMENT AND FINAL THOUGHTS: Sadly our fun cruise came to an end. We were pleasantly surprised that we could keep our luggage and take it off with us. On our last cruises we had to put our bags out the night before and claim them after getting off the ship. If you take your bags off you are called first to get off the ship. We were off the ship and IN our car by 8:10am! I was shocked at how easy it all was. We had a 10 hour drive to get home, so getting off so early was wonderful.
We really had a great time together as a family on this trip. Lots of "together" time. I do think we might try a different cruise line next time. Carnival is great but I think there might be a better fit for our family. We are more conservative and there was just a bit too much "fun" for us on this ship. But with that said, we still loved it and I would recommend Carnival for those looking for a lively cruise. We just tend to be more laid back and reserved.
Again, thanks for all your help and great advice. We are now home and it is Christmas Eve. It has been strange to come back just a few days before Christmas and get back into the swing of the holidays! We came home to cold temperatures and snow on the ground! Merry Christmas to all of you.
Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reighneth. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord; and He shall reign for ever and ever, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah! (Taken from Handel's Messiah- which I have been listening to as I write this!)