I would first off like to say that the main reason I am writing this review is because I used the resources of Cruise Critic so much in the past year (seeing this was our first cruise and there is SO much information on this site) that I felt it was only fair to first say thanks to CC but also to post my information about our trip so hopefully other users will get as much benefit from the review as I did from others.
Like I said earlier this was my families first cruise. Myself(47), Wife(46), daughter(17) and son (15) had to wait a full year from booking time to actual cruise time, so I did lots of research to make this trip the greatest holiday ever.(and it was) We flew in from Calgary Canada two days early to try to see a bit of Tampa before our departure. We stayed at the La Quinta in near the airport. They had a free shuttle from the airport that was very easy to find and use. This hotel was clean quiet and well priced so all the reviews I read prior were correct. We got in to Tampa after dinner Friday so we checked in and just went to IHOP for a bite to eat which is in the same parking lot as the hotel. We got up Saturday morning, went and had the continental breakfast and then walked over to the International Mall which is a 5 minute walk. Later that day we took the bus downtown and went to a Florida Aquarium the Tampa Bay Lightning game in the evening with a cab ride back which was just over $20. A great day in Tampa.
Well Sunday was Cruise day!!! We were up early for breakfast at the hotel and then took a cab down to the ship terminal about 11:00am. From the time we unloaded our suitcases till the time we were on the ship was just over an hour.
One thing that became very clear to my wife and myself is that Carnival is very organized in every aspect of their operations. From the time we got to our cruise till the time we got off there wasnt a single time where I questioned
their thinking in doing things. SO organized and every employee we ever came across was polite, happy and genuinely looked like they enjoyed their job. Really mind blowing when you think of it. Anyways, boarded onto the ship, sent up to the Lido deck (9) for lunch while the continued to clean the ship and get everyone's rooms ready. A bit crowded up there but kind of expected. Ate a decent lunch and made room for others to eat while we we outside to check out the views. We were allowed into our rooms at 1:30 and out luggage arrived shortly after. We had a balcony room mid ship on the 6th floor. Our room steward was Jason and he was wonderful. Never needed to contact him as our room was always cleaned when we were gone. 100% all 7 days. Muster drill was at 3:30 and at 4:00pm we set sail. Seven days of awesome. I will provide information on the ports seperatly below but will kind of summarize in point form other information about the cruise.
Food ---> We did the early seating dinner all seven nights. We had table 116 and our server was Everinton. He was great as was his two helpers. Again always happy and they worked well together. The first dinner was really good ( I forget what I had) but then it was just kind of average after that. I guess part of it might have been that we are from Alberta and certainly not to brag but our beef does taste a little different than the usda stuff. The second night I did have a steak and it was not good beef. However later in the week I had prime rib and it was quite good so I dont know. I have read on hear that people are kind of so so about the food of the ship but I gained close to 10 pounds in a week so like how bad was it? I think the problem is there is so much food available to you, you just get tired of eating and nothing tastes REALLY good after awhile.
I mean if the sit down dinners were just kind of average (besides the prime rib and also the lobster I had) I had some pretty decent lunches and snacks at the buffet that included some good Chinese seafood, Italian and also some smoked salmon with cream cheese a few afternoons was pretty good too. ALL the deserts available were always very good. I really cant complain about the food but if I had to, I would say the breakfast buffet got a little boring by day 5 but it still wasnt bad. Ten pounds people so be careful. lol
Ship Layout---> I heard people say prior they didnt like the design of the Legend but I liked it. Being our first ship of course we have nothing to compare it to but I thought it was nice. It was easy to find your way around with a set of elevators at the front with 4, mid (with 7) and aft with 4. Never a problem getting around, lots of seating by the pools outside and always seats for the buffet. Like I said earlier, no matter what you were doing on the ship, the employees were organized and eager to please you. Both the Follies, where the entertainment productions are and the Firebird where the comedy club is have plenty of seating, nicely decorated and easy to find.
Activities ---> Our kids 15 and 17 went to the first night meet and greet for the teen club and they were the only kids their age there. There were not many kids on this ship. We pulled our kids from school to go on this cruise so to be expected. Not a big deal, we enjoy spending time as a family so besides me going to the casino a few nights were were generally together. Its all good. The thing I found out about cruising pretty quick is that you can be as busy as you want on the ship or as lazy as you want. So the daily listing of activities to do seemed pretty extensive but we generally would lay in the sun on the two sea days but also enjoyed the shows in The Follies in the evening as well as the Standup Comedy in the Firebird. In many of the reviews I read prior to going some people were not thrilled with either the production shows or the comedians.
Well this is not Las Vegas people. I thought the production shows were very good
considering it was a cruise ship and I thought the comedians were okay. Their acts were a bit short but nobody bombed up there by no means.
Overall---> Well when Carnival sent me their after cruise survey I think I gave most categories a 9 out of 10. Of course first cruise and I have nothing to compare it to but I have gone on many vacations before and I know what the vacation industry is like. Its the employees and service you encounter that often makes or breaks your holiday. With that being said I still cant get over
first, how organized Carnival was in every aspect of this cruise from the time we embarked till the time we disembarked. Unreal. Secondly I dont know how you go on a cruise for week, and there is 1000 employees on the ship and every one that you encounter is cheerful, polite and always smiling. I am in the customer service industry and this just blows my mind. Anyways to sum things up.... very happy first cruise and 2 thumbs up to carnival. Will not hesitate to sail with them next time.