Carnival Legend 1/15/12
Carnival Legend Cruise Trip Report (1/15/12-1/22/12) Our Second Carnival Cruise
OK -- here you have it -- the much awaited (ok not really) trip report of Tigtink and family. The opinions expressed are Tig's and Tig's alone (except for Mr. Tig of course, who must by marital contract agree with everything I say)
First, let me say I booked with a PVP through Carnival that was recommended by a friend. She was nice enough -- but nothing over the top customer service wise. She did call me once to remind me my final payment was coming due and called one other time just before the cruise to make sure all was well. No fantastic upgrades or even $5 in OBC -- but again nice enough. Not really sure what I expect -- but I see how people rant and rave about how great their PVP is -- don't know what that means. But I have the name of another that I may try.
Now on with the show.....
Flew Delta Airlines from Rochester to Tampa with a stop in Atlanta -- all went More
well except nieces brand new luggage ripped. They gave her a claim ticket to send in after our trip to get a new piece of luggage -- will see how that goes. No other real problems and the bag was still very functional.
HOTEL: Hampton Inn, Rocky Point: Well oiled machine!! OK - this was a GREAT choice for us!!! I booked two rooms - one for daughter and niece with the cruise package (they pick you up at the airport take you to hotel, then to a shopping stop in town, then to the cruise port in the morning and then pick you back up at the cruise port and take you back to the airport or back to the hotel - your choice) and one free room for us (Hilton Honors reward night). The pick up at the airport went very smoothly - no problems at all. Check in with Wendy was fabulous - she is a great multi-tasker and deserves a raise - holy cow she can take great care of her customers. Hotel itself was away from everything really - but we did not care - they took us to Walgreen's to get our water and bug spray - and we went to Seasons 52 for dinner which was really good too and then we called them and they came and picked us up. The rooms need some updating but were clean and comfy for sure. We got the kids room for $133 total which included the cruise package for all four of us and free breakfast in the morning. Scott then took over the front desk and got us on the 'super secret early van to the cruise port' LOL - he was too funny - staff continues to go above and beyond! Breakfast in the morning was more than ample and quite tasty. Again staff is superb. We were able to get a 10am shuttle to the cruise port and just walked right through the line. Then upon return - we were picked up within minutes and they had us to the airport in no time. They obviously know what they were doing and we did not have to worry about a thing. Would definitely use them again and if we cruise out of Tampa again we will be back.
One little note - very small pool - but they have a nice little workout room.
DINNER: Seasons 52 Grill in Tampa:
Ok - this restaurant was recommended by the clerk at our hotel. So being from upstate NY we were game for something different. The food was very good and the atmosphere a bit upscale - I felt underdressed in shorts and t-shirt - but no one seemed to mind. It is more of a business casual type restaurant versus casual. We had a lot of fun testing each other's food and even ordered all the desserts and shared a bite of each with all at the table - so we probably busted our calorie count - but who cares we were on vacation. I think the total bill with 20% gratuity for the 4 of us was right around $180 - a little more than I wanted to spend on the first night of cruise vacation - but glad to have had the experience. Staff was nice.
CRUISE PORT: Excellent all the way around too. Went very, very quickly because we were there early. Had to wait an hour to actually board -- but who cares? We were there and got to see the ship through the window! Helped build the excitement. Staff was very nice indeed.
ON SHIP: YEAH!!!!!! So Excited, super easy and quick process -- they actually shook our bottles of water to ensure it was water. Boy they do not know us at all -- we are old time military and just follow the rules because we do. We had already ordered too much rum from Bon Voyage and had to bring one bottle home. Lesson learned -- the Tig and family are not drinkers -- One bottle of rum for 4 or more people is ample!
Lunch was yummy and so began the 7000+ daily calorie intake. Forced family to use the stairs everywhere so I felt justified in eating more -- LOL. Then we had a wonderful meet and greet. So grateful to all who showed and made some really good new cruise buddies with Jen and Hal (hoping to make it to NC for Cinco de Mayo -- will bring a bottle of Rum -- LOL). Sorry we missed some of you for sure!
Then onto rooms which were balconies on the Veranda deck -- we had an aft balcony. Nice enough and it was bigger than a regular balcony -- but I would not spend the extra $$ for it again. Could feel the vibration from the propeller or propeller shaft -- not too disturbing at all -- but you could feel it. I definitely would not do anything less than a balcony -- but I am spoiled. They had the beds set up wrong -- but no biggee at all -- they were corrected by the time we got back to the rooms. Housekeeping staff awesome as well.
Our first dinner was a bit disappointing -- but not horrible and not because of the food but because of the way the tables were set up. This is where we found out we were not intermingled with other passengers -- it was just our group of 4 at a table for 4. Since it was the girls (Niece -- 31 and daughter -- 27) first cruise we wanted them to meet others. When we asked about being seated at a bigger table -- it was said this is how they do it on the Legend. Ok -- I like my family for sure so not a problem -- just part of the fun is meeting new people! Food and waite staff are of course excellent. Jorge, Juniawan and RamÃ³n were fabulous each and every day!
DAY ONE: Ship at sea and I did not even spend one penny in the casino -- but don't worry -- Tig did make her contribution to the financial security of Carnival later on. Ate and ate some more. Took care of guest services issues. Went to the arcade (I had purchase some tokens at a discount so was hoping for a great arcade) which was in terrible repair -- and difficult at best to locate. Air Hockey table was functional but broken, a couple of video games and not much else. Crammed into a little dark room -- there was no one else there and it was no wonder. Not much into video gaming myself -- but thought if it was a good one the girls would enjoy it and young people would be there -- but it was not. Brought home most of the tokens we took -- no biggee will try on another ship. Also spent time wandering around the ship and sunning ourselves. Lovely.
FOR DAYS TWO - FIVE SEE INDIVIDUAL PORT REVIEWS
DAY SIX: At sea -- here is where Tig made her contribution to the financial security of Carnival -- but no worries -- had a great time in the casino. Daughter actually parlayed $60 into $200 and I made her cash out and buy her future cruise certificate -- which she did -- but then she went back and contributed the other $100 back to Carnival.
DEBARKATION: set our bags out the night before - marked them for early flight and had NO problems whatsoever.
1) The rooms were very lovely. Our preference from now on will be a balcony at mid-ship though - you do get some of the engine vibration in the aft section but nothing too disturbing
2) Food -- you do not have to eat everything in sight -- learned this as I went along -- only put on 4 pounds during this cruise and it is already gone -- Yeah TIG - but it is oh so tempting to eat every second of the day
3) The juggler show was the best in our opinion but it was only 1 of two shows we watched
4) The Mardi Gras show was ok -- glad we went -- didn't get it all but glad we went
5) The singer in Billie's Bar was really good -- just repeated songs a lot -- but we spent 3 evenings with him just the same
6) Watched the funniest ever Marriage Show -- loved the older couple!
7) Daughter loved Karaoke
8) Had a massage at the spa -- cost was a bit high -- but I knew that going in -- they try to get you to buy products over $100 -- but they did not try to 'hard sell' me - must have known I was not an easy sell
9) Arcade in desperate need of upgrading - YIKES
10) Would enjoy mixing it up a bit with others for dinner
11) Bought our future cruise certificates and have our next cruise picked out -- Carnival Liberty 11/24/12 out of Miami!!! Anyone care to join us? WE ARE BOOKED ALREADY
12) LOVED the 80's theme at Medusa's Lair and danced like a fool
13) Note to self -- bring $5's and $1's ashore for taxis -- they do not make change well
14) Loved spending time with Hal and Jen -- even if she does cheat at phase 10!
15) Housekeeping and wait staff are great
16) Learned that in order to see the shows - I must not return to my room cause if I do - I am sleeping and miss everything - was able to stay out and enjoy
17) Platinum Cruiser here we come - #3 booked Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
DAY THREE: Cozumel, OK - LOVED THIS! We booked on line directly with Island Marketing: http://cozumelcruiseexcursions.com/CozumelShoreExcursions.htm ($57/pp plus taxi costs both ways)
They send you a confirmation that gives you adequate directions - the nice thing was that this was a dockside port (no tender). We caught a cab for $7 for 4 of us to where they said to meet. It seemed a bit shady (maybe that is Mexico) and I never did see the word Francel on a boat as they said I would - but from there things were fine. We met with our guide - and it was just us (4 adults) and another couple. Guide provided EXCELLENT instructions - took probably about an hour. He then got us all another cab to where we would go scuba diving. My niece and daughter were a little overwhelmed with all the gear - so they stayed on the beach area (no sand just rocks - and lot of garbage around). It was not quite as pretty a beach as I thought it should be - but then we were in the water and from then on out the tour was excellent. We spent over 30 minutes under the water with the guide holding my and another lady's hand the whole way. We saw tons of sea life and had an awesome time! Once out of the water there was a problem with the return cab and making change - they seem very limited on American dollars so I would suggest that you bring $5 and $1 bills - but I did not sweat it as I was going to tip or guide anyway.
We then got back to the ship areas and decided to just go back on board as we did not want to shop - we definitely do not like the high pressured sales technique of shouting out.
Would highly recommend this tour. But I would also suggest to Island Marketing that their staff be more easily identifiable and they change their directions a little bit as they say to look for our boat FRANCEL located just next to the gas station - we never saw the boat - but did find the gas station.
DAY FOUR: Belize - Everything went very well on this excursion. Booked directly through their site: http://belizecruiseexcursions.com/ (this is again another Island Marketing, LTD excursion offering). We tendered from the ship (it is about a 20+ minute ride) and landed at pier 4 and walked the short distance to pier 1 (followed the directions they provided during my reservation). No problems with this process at all. They take a group of you to a little cabana area, sign you in and you pay your balance. Then it is about a 1.5 hour drive to where you cave tube. Belize has some real poverty as well and they obviously do not value dogs as we do. Our driver gave information - but for us in the back of the van - we could not hear him. We got to the site - and had the opportunity to use the restroom (this is a park like setting - so if you expect a Hilton or better - you will be disappointed - but it is definitely above adequate).
After everyone uses the restroom - you go to get your light (we did not have a miner's hat - but a light on an elastic headband). The head gear smelled really bad - like old sweat - but here we go living in the rough. Then we got our tubes and began our nearly 20-30 minute walk up the hill to where we would get in the water. We did have a river crossing which was kind of fun. Once we made it to the top - they help you into your tubes and then have you connect with each other and the guide brings you down the river to the place you originally crossed. I am a bit claustrophobic and there was not one place where I felt uncomfortable at all. The caves were cool to see and it was fun riding down the river -- but could have been easier if we had a smaller group -- it is tough to stay locked in to the person in front of you, behind you and to your side if you are not properly set up from the beginning.
Then they provide you a lunch of chicken, red beans and rice, something else (don't know what it was - but it tasted good to me) and pineapple (the best I have ever eaten - pineapple). This was not catered out of an FDA inspected site - so if you are worried about stuff like that you probably will not like it - but it was very good and no one got sick - but I could see how some people that have the idea of roughing it is no room service - might have an issue with this. It was fun and one of those must do things - but we would not do it again for reasons listed below:
First let me say if you have not been cave tubing - you should - it is a great experience for sure - and we do not regret it one bit - but now it is one of those 'been there done that' things for us anyway.
Concerns were - 1) 3 hours of our shore time taken up in travel to and from the site - there were no worries though that we would not make it back because those touring through Carnival were behind us in the river 2) could not hear the driver when he was giving information about Belize 3) the walk up the hill (it was muddy that day) was difficult for an older gentleman that was in our van and for my daughter who is on the heavy side 4) would have preferred to be able to walk up the hill without having to carry our own tubes - wish they would set up the issuing facility at the top instead of at the bottom - you could not enjoy the walk or the view as much due to the tube 5) the smell on the head light gear was really awful and distracting 6) they tried to put 10 of us together in a line and I think they were only supposed to do 8 - made it difficult to stay together and enjoy -but again not a real complaint - just a suggestion
Overall - this is a great tour that everyone should do at least one time. There is not time for anything else on Belize if you do this - so expect to get off the ship on the first tender and take one of the last ones back - we were not last back - but within 30 minutes of it - but there were no worries.
Loved going with our new cruise critic friends Hal and Jen!!
DAY TWO: Grand Caymans - booked a Stingray and wave runner excursion with Island Marketing LTD. Got off the ship and found where we were supposed to go really easily. Met up with a local while we were waiting and just engaged in nice conversation. Tour guide showed up and stated the excursion had been cancelled due to weather (wind). We were bummed out but he offered to get us a reputable taxi to guide us around the island. For $20/pp taxi driver took us around the island for about 2.5 hours - showed us Hell, we drank coconut water, saw where he lived, the rum factory, saw the dolphins and turtles and then came back to the ship. We are not into shopping so we went back on board for another nap in the sun. A little disappointing and I cannot really say whether or not this stop was worth it as weather happens. So took it as a sign that we were supposed to relax some more. Dinner of course was wonderful and the Carnival staff continue to be great. **As a side note - Island Marketing has already issued a refund of my deposit for this excursion - I notified them when I got back and no problems or concerns - will definitely use them again on the next cruise!
DAY TWO: Grand Caymans -- booked a Stingray and wave runner excursion with Island Marketing LTD. Got off the ship and found where we were supposed to go really easily. Met up with a local while we were waiting and just engaged in nice conversation. Tour guide showed up and stated the excursion had been cancelled due to weather (wind). We were bummed out but he offered to get us a reputable taxi to guide us around the island. For $20/pp taxi driver took us around the island for about 2.5 hours -- showed us Hell, we drank coconut water, saw where he lived, the rum factory, saw the dolphins and turtles and then came back to the ship. We are not into shopping so we went back on board for another nap in the sun. A little disappointing and I cannot really say whether or not this stop was worth it as weather happens. So took it as a sign that we were supposed to relax some more. Dinner of course was wonderful and the Carnival staff continue to be great. **As a side note - Island Marketing has already issued a refund of my deposit for this excursion - I notified them when I got back and no problems or concerns - will definitely use them again on the next cruise!
DAY FIVE: Roatan -- our very favorite. Booked directly through Victor Bodden website http://www.boddentours.com/index.htm . We booked the Best of Roatan tour. They provided us with the directions to the meeting place where we met up with William - our driver and guide for the day. William was a phenomenal young man - took us through the city and countryside. Took us to two beautiful viewing areas of the island where little marketers had set up tables. We were not interested in shopping - but got some great photos. We then went to the zip line and monkey area. We paid for our tour ($25/pp for the private guide all day, zip lining - $45/pp, and the monkey/bird interaction area - included in the price). Joshua and Marcus were our zip line crew and they were excellent. Daughter was VERY scared but they made her feel comfortable - there were even jumps she did with only one hand and she was so happy. They take pictures throughout the zip lining and if you want you can purchase a CD at the end for $20 - not a bad deal at all. Everyone enjoyed this and hubby actually tried upside down - I continued to have a difficult time jumping off the platforms (there were 12 jumps all together) - but had a hoot. The guides were great. The 'runs' were of good length especially for beginners. The stands that you jump from were not absurdly high - so you never felt unsafe. Their equipment looked to be well maintained and we would definitely do this tour again.
The monkey and bird interactions were great - I did get a bite from a monkey - but that was my fault - no big deal though - Victor provided shot records and I have had no problems whatsoever. Again - would do again.
We then had William take us to the Tropical butterfly garden (separate admission charge of $7/pp) which was very nice as well. We then had him take us back to the beach by the ship. He would have taken us to lunch or wherever else we wanted to go - but we were ready to be by the ship. We were able to sun a little and swim a little. Did not want to leave. Had a little snack of chips and salsa which were really, really yummy!!
Roatan was our favorite stop on this cruise. I would definitely use Victor Bodden again as it was reassuring that our guide never 'left' us - he stayed in or near the van while we did our thing. The country is beautiful but you can definitely see the poverty there. If you can bring school supplies and drop them off with Victor to take to the local schools.
Only complaint is that this was our shortest stop and the best of all -- wish Carnival would/could consider staying here a couple more hours.