Livin' La Vida Legend....or in other words, it was Legend....wait for it...ary! What an incredible week we had and boy am I glad I cruise again in a little more than 80 days. Lol. Below are a few thoughts on various "hot topics" and a full review is on my personal blog (link in signature).
Pre-cruise: We drove down from Charlotte on the day before the cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn - Rocky Point. The hotel is in a nice, safe area with dining within walking distance. The hotel itself is a little dated and the rooms could use some TLC. We paid about $85 for the room and arranged for a taxi to take us to port the following day.
Embarkation -â€" The process here is very different from what I remember in Charleston and Port Canaveral. The drop off area kind of reminds me of the entrance of a hotel where you usually park to run in and check in, get your room key and then find parking....except there are about 30 vehicles, a handful of porters and mass chaos. From the time we set foot on the pavement to security, check in and then boarding I would say we were in the terminal for about 20 minutes. We arrived to port around 11am and were on the ship no later than 11:45am. We made our way up to serenity and because of the rain, we were able to score quite a few tables for what would soon become a rockin' party.
Some of the food stations did not seem prepared for the ensuing masses as the pizza station seemed to be cranking out a single pizza at a time (which is truly poor planning and design on Carnival's end to not have more pizza ovens). The lines were very long at all the buffet stations but seemed to thin out just as fast as they built up. Aside from late night burgers, this is the only time we ate on the Lido deck.
Sail Away -â€" Rain, rain, rain. We did not let this dampen the mood or god-forbid, ruin our cruise. We had friends who had an aft wrap on deck 4 which we enjoyed sail away from their balcony. We had a great view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and through the rain, mist and fog the shoreline of Tampa and St. Petersburg.
On-board Entertainment -â€" We did not go to any of the production shows, saw 1 comedy show (Scotty K) and caught some of the various musicians here and there. From what we heard, the musicians were pretty decent (aside from the moaner in the atrium bar on the first night). I have to say that I LOVE Wee Jimmy and would cruise with him again. He put on a fantastic Marriage Show which had me laughing til I cried on the re-runs in the room and worked with the bar manager to have a Cigars Under the Stars (also had it added to the Funtimes) the night of our Belize port of call and made an appearance at our roll call meet & greet. Great guy and a lot of fun.
General observations: While I loved the dÃ©cor of the ship, I have to agree with what many others have said, in that the ship has a very dark feel to it. The dark furniture and wood tones makes the atrium feel very small and made me feel like I needed to turn a couple of lights on. The hallways were all very clean aside from the occasional room service tray left out in the hall, but on a return trip back down that same hall, it was removed. The public areas were all very well-kept and the only area in which I felt was very smoky was in the casino, which we only ever really had to deal with in passing. There was a slight sewage smell towards the later part of the week near the elevators mid-ship, lower decks but it wasn't a big issue. All in all, the crew on the Legend were top-notch with mad love going out to Serafin our room steward and Jonathan our head waiter in YTD.
Ports of Call: This was the first time we have done the Western itinerary and I cannot wait until we do it again. We had an amazing time in all 4 ports and had booked privately for all 4 excursions.
Cozumel -â€" We did Nachi Cocum and loved every minute of it. While we were not asked if we wanted message's, we did ask 1 guy if he was the happy ending guy and he laughed and said no but he knew who he was. We definitely got our monies worth and then some with the unlimited drinks and while we were never offered desert (maybe our server was intimidated by the 2 husky men in sombrero's) the 2 courses we did have were fantastic. If you are looking for an all-inclusive day but not the spring break/party atmosphere, Nachi Cocum is definitely for you as they only take 100 reservations/day. Well worth it.
Belize -â€" We booked the Belikin Brewery/City Tour through Wet Lizard which also included lunch in the $45/person rate. Our tour guide was Cornell and he was fabulous. Very knowledgeable about his country and a lot of fun. The tour starts at the Wet Lizard and then takes you through the south side of Belize City and then up to Ladyville and the Belikin Brewery, a tour and 45 minute open bar, you are then off on a tour of the north side of Belize City. After the tour you return to the Wet Lizard for lunch. You can order off the menu and pay out-of-pocket, however the lunch provided that day was jerk chicken, beans, rice, spicy slaw and papaya and plantain. Very, very good. Highly recommend this if you are a beer lover.
Roatan -â€" We did Victor Bodden's tours and had Tex has our drive. Tex is AMAZING!!! If you want the best of the best you must request Tex. Seriously. He truly made this day incredible. We started off with a tour of the island and stopped in at a local grocery store to look around and pick up some snacks. One of our companions is a manager at a regional grocery store so this was a true treat for her. We eventually made our way towards Victor's place where we got to play with the monkeys and tour the property. Afterwards, we headed to a little hideaway where Tex cut open a couple of coconuts for us so we could drink the water and then eat the meat. OMG!!! They were amazing. We then toured some more of the island, ventured down to West End and then grabbed some lunch at a little lunch stand where we had the most amazing tacos (not sure of the Honduran name) ever. 2 tacos and a soda for $5.00. Amazing. We eventually made our way back to Mahogany Bay and all agreed it was the best tour ever. The tour itself and then the add-on of the monkeys was $35/person. So worth it for the personal attention Tex gave us.
Grand Cayman -â€" We booked our excursion with Outrage Eco Tours and our guide was John Michael (JM). What an amazing day. While most excursions were being canceled due to the weather we decided that since we were already wet from the rain we would go ahead and venture out. I am so glad that we did. When we reached stingray city we were the only ones there. The water was so warm and the stingray were amazing. We spent about an hour and a half there before heading out to snorkel one of the reefs. We then went to starfish point and then through the mangroves before ending our day. JM provides water and soda on the boat and will also stop at a store before reaching the dock to pick up and adult beverages and/or food you might want. Other options for the excursion is going to Rum Point Beach for lunch and drinks. While the cost of our excursion might seem high to some, it was worth every penny. $500 for 4 of us and we were out for about 4 -â€" 6 hours. Truly worth looking into if you want a more personal approach and don't want to be herded like cattle.
MDR -â€" I would have to say that this was the low light of our cruise. Definitely not enough to ruin my cruise because seriously...there really is nothing that could happen that could ruin my cruise. The quality of the food just did not seem to be there like it had been on our previous cruises with Carnival. Very dry pasta dishes, very bland food. The prime rib on elegant night was as tough and tasteless as the sole of my shoe. The only highlight of the MDR was our service team and our head waiter Jonathan.
Steakhouse -The steakhouse on the other hand was outstanding (food wise) and if it was not $30/person I probably would have eaten there more than the 2 nights we already had. Lol. While not listed as a side, I highly recommend the macaroni and cheese up there as it is so much better than what is served in the MDR. The free bottle of wine on the first night is really not that bad....come on...it's free. The only drawback for us with the steakhouse is the open air concept. While the idea was great at the time, I don't think they thought ahead to the noise that is generated in the atrium bar, how the noise rises and when they have the worst performer in the atrium bar crooning and moaning as if they are in pain, it really takes away from the whole experience of being in the steakhouse. (Just my opinion).
Disembarkation - We did self assist and have found this to be the easiest for us when we have driven to port and need to get on the road as soon as we can. We hung around in the photo gallery until the first announcement was made for self-assist. We were off the boat, back to the hotel and on the road by 8:30am.
Overall, the Legend is a great ship and while the itinerary is very port intensive for a 7 day cruise, it is definitely an itinerary that I would do again. If I could change 1 thing about this itinerary it would be to make it an 8 day cruise leaving on a Saturday with a sea day on Sunday, Cozumel on Monday, Belize on Tuesday, Roatan on Wednesday leaving later in the day and having Thursday as a sea day, Friday in Grand Cayman, Saturday sea day and return to Tampa on Sunday. I felt that our time in Roatan was really short due to the long trek to Grand Cayman and think if there was a sea day built-in between the 2 ports it would allow for a longer stay in Roatan and a day of r&r at sea before hitting up Grand Cayman. But then again, I'm not a beard and I don't eat tofu.