Some background info on me. I am Jill, 29 from New Brunswick, Canada.This was my 8th cruise, all with Carnival. First time sailing from Tampa; first time on a Spirit Class Ship. I had previously visited all the ports except Roatan. I was traveling with my friend, Sheri also 29 - on her first cruise. We had a category 8 balcony, room 7241, midship. While on past cruises, I have stayed up late; 'sampled' the liquor selection and did plenty of sight-seeing, this cruise was more lazy days than anything. Much needed, mind you. I apologize if I get a little boring for some of you ?
Day 1 - Saturday, April 9.
Left Saint John for Bangor, Maine at 8am and made it in the fastest 3 hours of life. Farted around Bangor until check-in at the airport and we were on our way to Florida!
Our trip was uneventful and we picked up our luggage without More
incident upon landing at the Tampa airport. We called for our complimentary shuttle from the Hampton Inn at Rocky Point. *I should note - we booked the 'cruise package' online, which included:
Shuttle pick-up from the airport to the hotel
One night's stay
Hot continental breakfast
Shuttle drop-off at the port of Tampa
Shuttle pick-up from the port of Tampa the following week, with drop off at the Airport!
All for $99
I would recommend them in a heatbeat.
We were the only two people who got on the shuttle at the airport. My friend simply asked the driver where we might get a bottle or two of water near the hotel and he offered to take us to Walgreens, across town from the hotel. We very much appreciated him taking us out of the way, and tipped accordingly. He was very friendly. We found out later that the hotel desk had called him asking about us, wondering what the delay was; it felt nice to be looked after.
I should mention - you must book the cruise package in order to get on one of the shuttles to the port. You cannot book the shuttle if you have booked a normal rate.
Day 2 - Sunday, April 10; Embarkation.
We slept well, showered and had a hot breakfast the next morning, poolside, before checking out, and waiting for the 12 o'clock shuttle to board our CRUISE!!
The shuttle was full, but on time and professional. No complaints. I noticed a difference at the port, as all of my previous cruises have sailed from Miami, but I have no issues with the embarkation process in Tampa. As I stated, our shuttle left the hotel by noon, and we were on-board around 1pm. We grabbed lunch, natch, and began exploring the ship! I had been really looking forward to exploring the ship. As my first time on the Spirit class - the layout is completely new to me, and I had gotten complacent on the Conquest/Triumph class! As excited as I was going into the cruise, by the 2nd day, I was getting frustrated with not knowing exactly where to go at all times. I got over it quickly, though and really found myself enjoying the layout - as so many others have discovered. *a few minor things I noticed in comparing to the Conquest ships: the deck chairs on deck 3. I am not a 'sun-lover' (Go figure.) So I have very much enjoyed the quiet, shady space on Deck 3 to read my books and generally lounge about on sea days. Luckily, we only had 2 Sea Days this cruise, so I managed to go without. I also did not like having to walk directly through the casino on Deck 2 to get from one end to the other. I am very sensitive to smoke, so this bothered me a little bit. But, I knew it was only a matter of going up or down a deck to avoid it, so I made it work. I also didn't like how the cabin hallways jutted in and out in sections. I preferred the long, seemingly endless hallways on my previous ships ?
After exploring much of the ship we found our cabin, the location of which, IMO, was awesome. We were only 2 decks down from lido, right across from the midship (Atrium) elevators. I liked being midship a lot, and never noticed any extraneous noises coming from the elevator. We were the 2nd balcony in the 'jutted out' portion of balconys on Starboard side. My friend was disappointed that we didn't get more 'port views' - we were on the wrong side in every port. We also did not get much sun on our side, which meant we didn't spend much time at all out there, except for sail-away from Tampa ?
We lounged on our beds *the bedding has changed again. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the nice, fluffy duvets with the covers are no-longer? I had a very thin, though still mostly comfortable, duvet with only a sheet covering it. I still slept great all week though, so no complaining! We then attended the muster drill at around 330. Very painless, really. Do people still insist on trying to 'skip' it? No life-vests needed.
We sailed away, right on schedule at 4pm from Tampa. We avoided the Lido crowds and sat in the sun on our balcony watching Tampa disappear behind us. We had heard that the sail under the Skyway bridge wouldn't be until about 6pm, so I unpacked and we did some more wandering.
Approaching the bridge is pretty incredible. You can see it for a while before sailing under it, and it is worth the wait to see how close the ship actually gets to the bottom of the bridge. I got a few photos, but they don't compare to the actual experience.
After the sun went down, we went to freshen up before dinner. We had late seating, which I have always had and really enjoyed. Our table-mates were a couple of guys traveling together and a Platinum Carnival sailor, traveling alone. We had some awkward conversation to start, but by the end, things seemed okay. My friend found it especially awkward, however and we never did go back. Oops! She is not a very dressy person, so we purposely skipped the 2nd night (Elegant night) in the dining room. After we skipped this night, and I saw how easy it was to grab food from the Lido buffet on our schedule without having to change from my yoga pants, I decided this would be 'the cruise I skipped the dining room.' I felt bad about missing the dining room, but have had many a table-mate go missing for the duration of cruises before, so I knew we weren't the first people to do it. FTR we did not adjust our tips to 'take out' the portion for our dining room staff. I have witnessed people doing this at Guest Services and couldn't imagine doing it myself. To each his own, I guess.
Traveling to a cruise always takes a lot out of me (It feels as though I travel for almost 2 full days before I finally get settled on board), so we had an early night. Sheri had intended on making it to the Welcome Aboard show, but fell asleep watching TV while killing time before it started. I blame the Darn Beds!! I assured her it would run over and over and over again on the TV - and I was right ?
Day 3 - Monday, April 11; Fun Day at Sea
Ahhh, a sleep-in. We hardly made it to the 'late-riser' breakfast on Lido. I LOVE sea days ? After breakfast, more wandering/exploring. We checked out the shops, looked for a seat in Serenity (impossible ?) and took in the Art auction. Around 4pm, and after 'lunch' at the grill, I went down for a nap. I make it a point to nap on a cruise. I refuse to do it at home, and insist that it keeps me fresh for my normal late-seating-based evening schedule. Since I didn't have to 'get ready' for Elegant night, I slept until 7, lol. 3 hour naps just because you can are one of life's best-things. We ate supper on Lido, and grabbed our seats for "Jazz Hot." I liked this show very much. To be honest, I still look forward to the production shows more than any of the other entertainment on board Carnival. I was happy that Sheri liked it as well. In fact, she liked it so much she went back again for the 1030 show!
Day 4 - Cozumel
Toward the end of the week, we had heard that our itinerary had been reversed. I do not know if this is true, nor do I know when the change occurred or why it occurred. We did not have any privately booked excursions, so it did not affect our week in the least.
We hadn't made any plans for Cozumel, so we slept late once again. We knew we weren't going to spring for excursions in all of the Ports, as we were limited on $$ and, being a bit of a nervous traveler, I prefer to book most things through Carnival anyway. I was familiar with the port here in Cozumel to know there was enough shopping to keep us occupied for a couple of hours, which was all we could stand of the Sun, haha. I love the colours of the Caribbean ports. They are so vibrant in conjunction with the beautiful blues of the ocean. We shopped, photographed and found a seat in the sandy area near the water. The breeze was lovely here, and we managed to kill the requisite 2+ hours on shore. Back on board, we lunched and I then grabbed another nap. After supper, Sheri caught the Motown artist, and I read until she was done. We then went to listen to Kevin sing out on Serenity. It was a lovely evening, and I'm glad they are utilizing this area at night as well. One of my favourite things about cruising is the nighttime ambiance; being under the stars in the warm-but-not-hot air at cruising speed with nothing around you but the water and sky. Kevin was wonderful, but unfortunately (for you) debarked with us on Sunday as his contract came to an end. I was disappointed we didn't get to hang out more at Serenity, as I enjoyed it so much last year on the Glory, but this evening show made up for it at least a little bit.
Day 5 - Belize
Again, nothing had been planned for Belize. It is not my favourite port, and having visited the Zoo and done the city tour in previous visits, there wasn't much more of interest to me to spend $$ on this particular itinerary. We did tender into the port, more just to say we did it, and to take a few photos and shop for a few souvenirs than anything else. We were back on board a couple of hours before the last tender.
Day 6 - Roatan
Having never been to this island, I agreed to take part in the Semi-Submarine and West-end excursion. We knew we would get to see more of the island this way, and the semi-sub seemed interesting at the very least. I have to admit - I liked this excursion very much. We managed to get on the 2nd of 2 busses that only ended up being half-full, so there were only 11 of us on the tour. It was nice to be able to spread out on the bus, and have a more personal experience with the tour guide, Edwin, who was great. The tour took us first to the Cameo factory. It was small, but quaint and one of only 3 in the world. We then drove along the island for maybe half an hour to the west-end, where we boarded the semi-sub, which took us on a guided tour of the coral reef surrounding the island. It was quick, but informative and fun at the same time. A nice taste of something I've never done before. From there, we drove a little ways into the village where we stopped for some local entertainment and a 'lunch' break, if desired. This was my least favourite part - they led us into a bar, where our complimentary coffee or lemonade was served, sat us in plastic patio chairs where we watched locals sing and dance on cue, looking exactly as though they were hired for the job. It makes me sad to think that they are pandering to our stereotypical views of the area and showing us what they think we want to see. Maybe I'm alone in this - but it seemed forced. Afterwards, we had about 45 minutes to explore the West Village. Mostly souvenir shops, but more 'authentic', as opposed to the shops at Mahogany Bay. Once our time was up, we were to meet up with the bus to take us back to the ship. Our bus was missing!! And our guide was nowhere to be found! It was a few anxious seconds before we located the rest of our group and knew we hadn't been left behind. Our guide found us and gave is the bad news that Police were no longer allowing tour busses into the village and we would have to walk to it; back to where we caught the sub. (Only about a 10 minute walk). The ride back was scenic and we were back to Mahogany Bay with enough time to wander the shops and walk to the beach for a quick dip at Mahogany Beach. It's a lovely spot that Carnival has built up in this area - they really have done a great deal of work and it has paid off. Unfortunately, we were only in port until 230, so I am looking forward to making another trip back here on a future cruise.
It was Elegant night #2 and I enjoyed "The big Easy" show less than "Jazz Hot" but only marginally. As I mentioned, they are still my favourite. Sheri went back to see this one a second time, as well.
Day 7 - Grand Cayman
This would be my 4th visit to Grand Cayman. The past two times, I have merely walked the streets and shops of Georgetown as the first time I visited, I was given a tour by a friend of mine who was living there at the time. This was just after the hurricane hit in 2004, so I figured it was time for another tour. We booked the 'best of' tour, and should have known better. I mean, it was okay. We did get what we signed up for, don't get me wrong. But it was a crowded, full bus this time, which made a lot of difference! Our first stop was kind of Seven Mile Beach. I say 'kind of' because we did not get out of the bus, nor did we really 'stop'. Rather, we pulled off to the side of the road in a couple of spots along the beach. We hit up H*LL, where sheri paid $1 for a stamp on her passport from H*LL. *note, this is not an official 'Cayman Island' customs stamp, as I believed it would have been. I'm okay with having left my passport on board the ship ? It was crowded and underwhelming, as I'd heard it to be, but now at least I can say 'been there, done that.' We moved along to the Tortuga Rum Cake factory: crowded again and a couple of ladies were hogging the room at the sample table so I only got to try one flavour. It was delicious, but did not make me need to buy any. We went to take pictures out the back of the store instead. *note, there was no 'factory-ing' that I could tell...
Finally we stopped at the Turtle Farm. They have built this up quite a bit since I had been about 5 years ago. It's a nice stop for turtle lovers, but get boring quickly otherwise. I had been there before, so it was only borderline exciting to be back. Very clean and informative if that's your bag, though ?
We were dropped off back at the port, and we had to make our way through the secure port-area shops in order to make it actually into Georgetown to check out a couple of shops there. It was hot as H*LL this day, so we didn't make it as far as we'd have liked before heading back to the ship to beat the last tender line-ups. The entertainment for the night missed the ship, due to the intinerary change I mentioned earlier, so they moved the comedy up to the main lounge instead, I'm not a fan of 'cruise-ship comedians' so I only made it to this show tonight because there was no other option. They were alright. Sheri again made it back for the 1030 show. I began packing so I wouldn't have to waste my last day doing it ?
8 - Saturday; Fun day at Sea.
One last sleep in today. I slept more this week than I ever have before. It was glorious! We made it to the towel folding demonstration and the Love and Marriage game before heading back to spend some time in the sun on our balcony. We did a bit more shopping, had some more ice cream, generally did things 'for the last time' and tried some snacks from the Legends Cafe for the first time (thankfully we did not discover this earlier in the week!) I bought my FCC for the next one and we finished packing, and filling out Customs cards for the morning. We went to the Q&A session with Assistant Cruise Director, Weezie and the rest of the Social Hosts. We grabbed supper on Lido and headed back to the theatre for the Legends show, It's been a few years since I've bothered going to this show - I usually watch the auditions at karaoke all week but don't make it to the show. I missed the auditions this time around, so it was nice to go to the show. It was typically funny, and a nice way to close out the week in the theatre. Off to bed - early wake up call for debarkation morning tomorrow ?
Day 9 - Debarkation
For all non-US citizens, we had to report to the theatre at bloody 7 am to clear customs. We were out of bed by 6, and in line by 645. It pays to be early - we were back to our room before too long and were able to grab breakfast and be back to the room by 730. We decided to stick it out as long as they would allow us in the cabin, and relaxed on the beds for as long as possible (until 830, when we left voluntarily so as not to be 'those girls'). From there, we waited in the balcony of the show theatre - which was virtually empty. I don't know where others were waiting, but we had that place to ourselves. We were zone 9, but wanted to wait as long as possible since we had a 245 flight out of Tampa so we tried, and failed: Within minutes of them calling zone 9, they had called all the way up to 26! We were off the ship by 945, if not sooner. Needless to say, they are very efficient. I'm sure we could have stayed a bit later - but not much!
As I mentioned previously, we had arrangements through the hotel we stayed at the week before to pick us up and take us to the airport. As we were in absolutely no hurry - we were fine when they told us we were in a long line of people who had called before us that morning. We took a few minutes to re-pack something's and stood in the waiting area. As the people filtered out, we were finally called to get in on the waiting shuttle. It looked pretty full, so we again stated that we were in no rush, and if we couldn't fit, we would gladly wait for the next one. We got our wish, and the shuttle was overbooked. We were eventually the last two waiting with the same gentleman/owner who checked us into the hotel the weekend before. He told us it would likely be another hour before the shuttle returned for him (and subsequently, us.) It was fine by us as we were glad to be waiting outside in Sunny Tampa, instead of inside the airport. We chatted with the 'man-from-the-hotel' for that next hour and finally our chariot had arrived! The driver was personable and very apologetic about the wait, even though we assured him that it was preferable to us in every way. Overall, I would highly, highly recommend booking the "cruise Package" I mentioned above.
We managed to kill over 2 hours from the time we got off the ship until getting to the airport. We were still almost 3 hours early for our flight, but we checked in our bags, and grabbed a bite of lunch to kill a bit more time. Our flight schedule was terrible and we were delayed on two of our three legs. (It's nearly impossible to get home from Florida in 1 day without paying close to $1000, so we cheap-out and take the crap route home, Haha.) By the time we picked up our bags at the airport in Maine, it was midnight. We over-nighted at the Travelodge in Bangor. Dated, but clean - I would stay here again if the price was right.
Overall thoughts: I did end up liking the Spirit Class layout, after a bit of early-week trepidation. I will probably end up going back on the Conquest or Triumph Classes more often, though more for variety than anything. I enjoyed the staff onboard the Legend very much. Wee Jimmy was probably my favourite cruise director if not ever, at least in several cruises. He was my kind of funny, without seeming to try too hard, and the Scottish Accent was great! Weezie (ACD also from Scotland) was great as well, and the other social hosts were both personable and professional. Our Room Steward was Markus, and was pleasant, though didn't go out of his way for anything after introducing himself on the first day (Which must now be required, as he asked for me to sign a piece of paper stating he had been there.) The only issue I had, and I'm debating whether or not to mention it on my comment card, was with the staff at the Deli counter. I ordered a Turkey Wrap (on the menu, nothing special about it.) and the guy, trying to be funny, though it was hard to tell at first, said a bit rudely, "You want a Turkey Wrap?" and stared at me for what had to be a full minute. No smirking, no blinking, nothing that would indicate he was kidding around. I had a plate of rice waiting for me at the table, getting cold during this time (not that he could know that, but it made it more frustrating for me). As I stood there, wondering what I had done wrong, this guy staring me down, I added "Please?" to my order. He continued to stare and 'banter' back and forth with me, making me downright uncomfortable to the point that I wanted to walk away. He hadn't even started to make the sandwich I asked for, and I couldn't tell he was kidding or not! I thought I had done something wrong and couldn't figure out how to get him to tell me what it was...It was just uncomfortable and it made me not want to go back to the deli for the rest of the week while he was there. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but i heard him with other passengers as well, and most of them had the same reaction I did. Just confusion and uncomfortable-ness. Nothing disappointed me to the point of ruining my vacation - it would take plenty for that to be the case!!
Like so many others, I wish they would bring back the Fruit Punch!! Or at least offer another selection during the day. I don't drink Iced Tea, so the Lemonade got really old, really fast.
I was surprised to feel the ship 'vibrating' as much as I did. The seas were calm, for the most part; not much rocking at all. But I felt vibrating quite a bit, and don't know what the cause was. Not bothersome, but I obviously noticed enough to mention it. That's it. 7 nights on the Legend and i already wish i were back onboard. Questions, please email email@example.com Less