We took the Carnival Legend out of Tampa for a Western Caribbean cruise in December of 2011.
I traveled with my husband and 2 Â½ year old son. This is just a brief review of some of our experiences. I learned some tips and tricks from CC which helped me greatly but I also learned that I need to take some tips with a grain of salt too!
Flying in and out of Tampa with Delta from Detroit was fine. We stayed at the Wyndham using some credit cards points. In some ways, I would not recommend. The free shuttle took forever to get us at the airport; they forgot us. The hotel is very beautiful and the breakfast buffet was good. The free shuttle was so overbooked you would wait forever for it. Service was not very good, even though it seemed to be a high class hotel.
As recommended here, we went to Walmart on the shuttle to buy diapers, wine, and toddler snacks. This is my biggest regret. We were pushing ourselves to drink the wine (although we do drink wine at home); we just never were in the mood; too much else to do and see. DS barely ate the crackers and snacks since there was so much else on the ship. And I only used Â½ the diapers I had planned since we were off the ship and swimming a lot. I wasted most of my first vacation night in a crummy city Walmart. In hindsight, I would just pack the diapers and purchase drinks on the ship!
Our only other past cruise experience was with Princess in Alaska 3 years ago, following a week long independent land tour. So, this cruise is about as different as you could get. We chose Carnival for the kids club for our son age 2 Â½.
Much to our surprise, there were about twice as many mobility scooters on board as there were children! I would say 80% of the guests were retirees. Now, everyone was nice to us and no guests seemed to mind we had a rambunctious toddler with us, but I was so surprised! I expected tons of kids and families. It might have been timing (a few weeks before Christmas)?
We booked room 5228, which is an obstructed view balcony, towards the aft, so the lifeboat only came about to the floor of the balcony. As was said here on CC, you could see out and all around, just not straight down. It didn't bother me one inch and I would not hesitate to book a cabin like this again for the great discount. I wanted a balcony so we could sit outside while my son napped, but to be honest, when he napped, we usually did too. With a young child, you could get by with an OV cabin but the balcony was nice. We were on the same floor as the kids club. Our room steward was very good and the couch was already made into a bed for my son by the time we boarded the ship. He had no problems sleeping there although he sleeps in a converted crib with half toddler rail at home. No rails here, he had no problems. It is not a very tall bed but he never fell.
On the ship, I found the layout and design of the Legend to be nice. Maybe it was darker than the Princess boat we went on, but overall I like it. It was always clean. The food was good. Service was very good. I wish the pools were bigger but it was OK. Never went to the Serenity Deck. The steel drum band that played near the pools and other places throughout the ship was SO great; we loved to sit and listen to them and my son liked to dance.
We went on deck for sail away which was beautiful and fun. We were up front when we went under the bridge. One thing I do not recall reading here was: the ship sounds the VERY LOUD horn when passing under the bridge! I think my son had a heart attack and was scared for 15 minutes afterwards. It was much too loud for him.
The first night was so rocky it woke me up. I never had sea sickness in Alaska, although I can get sick on small boats. I was worried about feeling sick with a toddler the next day so I took a Bonine. I went back to sleep. In the morning it was calmer but still rocky. I decided to try the patch. I did and I felt fabulous. I think maybe I did have some dry mouth and the first night or two was a little more drowsy. But we were so tired from activities it didn't much matter; nothing a complimentary expresso at the MDR couldn't fix.
Sea day 1 was great, sunny, we swam in the pool, ate, drank, napped. It was a great day. The saltwater pool bothered us only a little at first then we got used to it. We decided to try the MDR. My son does NOT sit through dinner and does not eat hardly anything. Well he sat for a two hour dinner and even ate a little bit; I had some movies downloaded on my phone for him to watch and lots of toys. The wait staff was so nice and friendly to him. Dinner was great but the fish I had was just OK. That fish was the only food item on board that I had that was so-so. Everything else was very good to excellent. The breakfasts were good in Lido; lunches great in Lido and near the pool. One night I had a steak sitting in a warming pan at the buffet. Guess what? It was awesome. We had some sushi that was very good. Deserts including the chocolate melting cake were great. The deli would make a PB&J when I asked for my son.
Day 2 Grand Cayman we booked Captain Marvins to see stingrays. I think I chose them because there were two snorkeling sites and they would drop us off at 7 mile beach. Also the 10 am departure worked best for our schedule. There were 4 or 5 other boats in port and it was a zoo. If my son could have taken a ship tour I would do that instead of an independent. We had to walk far to check in, it was kind of hot and a narrow sidewalk for a busy toddler. I think without a little kid and not so many people around it would have been fine. On the tour it was a little rougher than I expected and my son was sick on the boat. When we got to the stingrays, he completely turned around and was so excited to go in the water! We had a life jacket, the puddle jumper: http://www.amazon.com/Stearns-Puddle-Jumper-Deluxe-Jacket/dp/B003648OKK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323882127&sr=8-1. It was the best, he loved it. He loved the waves and he loved seeing the stingrays swimming underwater. He wanted to touch them, but did and then said Eww! But was just as thrilled with us holding him and watching them go all around. He laughed the whole time. Now, I talked to him a lot about this before we left and got a library book about rays and he was excited to go. He did not freak out. So, I would take a toddler again on this excursion, but if it was rough I've heard you can give them some benedryl for motion sickness. I didn't snorkel but my husband said it was excellent. After the tour we just went back on the ship; didn't feel like 7 mile beach at that point.
Day 3 at Cozumel we went to Chankanaab. It was the best day. We love Mexico, having gone to many AI's there pre-baby. If you aren't used to the tourism culture there you might not like it, but we are fine with it. You haggle, you get asked for tips by everyone, who cares. It is such a beautiful place. Taxi I think cost $10 or something; rates are regulated. Lots of people trying to get a taxi, we just kept moving closer to the front and got in. Took 5 minutes to get there. Went right to the small inlet beach which was very fun and safe for DS. Had great wait service. Excellent drinks, great ceviche and guacamole. There is a fabulous pool there! Large and beautiful and some shallow areas for little ones. Saw the sea lion show and DS loved it. This was a great day, a beautiful location and we were very sad to leave.
Day 4 was Belize. We went all the way to the tender deck and when I saw the rough water I bailed because I didn't want DS sick. If we had tendered, we would have only shopped and came back anyway. Maybe this is a nice place but my opinion is: If the boat is anchored 30 minutes from land, this is not a port nor a stop. It is a hiccup in planning, nothing else. I would not take a ship that went here again. If you cruise to have transportation to different areas, to mean another 30 minute rocky tender on top of the cruise ship ride just doesn't make sense. But I know others like the place and that's fine. We stayed on board.
Day 5 was Roatan. We walked to Mahogany Bay and took our stroller. Glad we did; it was better for the little guy. The flying chair only takes you so far. The beach is nice but even better when you walk a bit farther down past the cabanas. I think the cabanas were a rip off. We got chairs, DS played in the water and napped in the stroller. We ate some yard sized drinks and beers and nachos. When we wanted to go it started pouring so everyone ran back in the rain; a bummer but we were all wet already anyway. This was a nice beach area and a nice place for drinks and music and food. It had a fun little playscape for kids too.
Last sea day was not so sunny or warm. But we relaxed and enjoyed our last day.
Disembarkation was a little tense. Our flight left at 12:20 I think. So we got an envelope in the cabin to either self disembark or zone 3. We had a stroller and everything else so figured we do zone 3 so they'd take our luggage off. Well morning comes and they call self disembark for such a long time, then take a huge break before starting zones. We were worried we wouldn't make it. Finally they call zone 3, but it still took a few lines before getting off the ship, then find your luggage in the huge warehouse. Then, go outside to find one scrappy looking guy thinking he is in charge of lining up taxis for hundreds of people! There was no clear line to get the next taxi and several taxis were lined up one behind the other. A family to our far left stood at an open curb and a taxi pulled up and loaded them up. This "director" for taxis ran over there yelling that they could not get in that one and pulled their luggage out! They were not trying to cut in line but there was no clear method; and he was not pulling taxis in fast enough or letting them leave. After I saw that I thought to myself, heck with this crazy guy, I am not missing my flight. When a line of 4 taxis pulled in I walked towards one and the driver said "wait...". I said "No problem, that guy (attendant) just told us to get in here" and we piled in and took off. We got to the airport, checked in, security, gate exactly at an hour before the flight took off. So just in "legal" time. Next time I would self disembark.
Overall, we had a great trip and I would definitely cruise again as a family get away.