Sail Date: 05/22/11
This was DH's and my first cruise ever, and Carnival Legend did not disappoint! We are late 40's / early 50's and had no idea what to expect. There were much older couples (one celebrating their 53 anniversary!) and very, very newlyweds, and everything in between on this cruise. Not a whole lot of kids but many schools were still in session at the end of May. Embarkation was a breeze. My sister dropped us off at the Port Terminal, we tipped a bag porter $5 to relieve us of our bags, we made our way through the Port Authority at Tampa. Didn't realize pictures were not allowed in this building for security reasons until one of the authorities asked us not to take pictures. We didn't see any obvious signage to this effect, so we didn't know. We headed down the gangway toward the entrance to the ship and were met with the first group of photographers. We had our picture taken with the likeness of the Legend as the backdrop and it turned out GREAT! Yes, there are LOTS of photo ops during the cruise, and some might get irritated by this, but it takes literally as long as it takes a flash on a camera and you're on your way. You can view, purchase or dispose of the photos at your leisure. We ended up with some really fantastic photos of us on our first cruise and are glad we stopped to pose for them. Upon arriving on the ship on deck level 2, the Promenade, we were directed to Guest Services directly across the atrium to deposit our cash onto our Sail & Sign account. We chose to do cash to keep us honest and on somewhat of a budget, and it worked for us. As soon as they gave us our Sail & Sign cards, we were informed that our rooms were ready and our luggage was at our room already! It was only 1:30! We did end up bringing a credit card to Guest Services for the last day at sea just to be on the safe side and we didn't spend much, but it allowed us to have a little extra fun. One very convenient feature is that you can view your Sail & Sign account on the t.v. in your stateroom so you always have a running tally of the day's expenditures. We really appreciated that feature and used it a lot...because you'd be surprised what you lose track of after a pina colada or two,... or 8.
We had an extended balcony stateroom and I think that means it is deeper, not wider than standard balcony's. Plenty of room for two adults, the two lounge chairs and a small table out there. Don't leave your balcondy door open or even ajar because it shuts off the A/C in your room. We had a king bed, very comfortable. The room is about as big as a regular hotel room, just not as wide. Plenty of room for moving around. We unpacked all of our things as soon as we entered our room, hung things up, sprayed Downey Wrinkle Release on some things, put other things in drawers and in the bathroom, and then we slid our empty suit cases under the bed on the mat that was provided. Worked out beautifully! The bathroom is small, there is enough counter and shelf space to put toiletries and such, the shower is a small corner stall, but perfectly adequate for the purpose. We didn't go on a cruise expecting to soak in a tub, so this suited us perfectly. You have the option of hanging up your towels after using them which alerts the steward that you don't need your towel replaced. If the towel is on the floor, it will be replaced. This saves laundering water and energy, it's what we do at home, so it seemed natural for us to hang up our towels. The ship provides you with a clean Carnival logo beach towel (x2) each day, but there are also towel exchanges at the pool decks where you can exchange a wet and/or sandy towel for a clean dry towel. Very handy perk. The stateroom was well lit, especially when the sun shone in. I brought my own travel blow dryer but found the stateroom hair dryer that is provided to be perfectly adequate. It is hardwired into the electrical system and stored in a drawer at the vanity table. It operates by holding the power button down with your thumb, and when your thumb releases the button, it turns off. It's a safety and power conservation feature. As a former hairdresser, the power of the dryer suited my needs just fine. I let my hair go curly most of the cruise because the hot humid tropical conditions negated beating my hair into submission on a daily basis. DH and I didn't watch ANY regular programming on the t.v., we tuned into channel 11 or whatever onboard ship channel had the info for the day, or the pre-recorded Wee Jimmy show of the day, or even just the music channels. It was pure HEAVEN not being bombarded with all the bad news in the world either on paper, on t.v. or on a web news feed....even having limited access to cell phone or email and not driving for 7 full days was a welcome escape from the daily grind. The only news we read all week came from our daily Fun Times which listed the next day's events, and was left on our bed every evening with our towel animal and a couple of chocolates.
We had all but one dinner in Truffles Dining room, and Jamie and Widia were our wait staff team. They were nothing short of amazing! They learned our preferences and names from day one. If we wanted to catch a particular show after our late seating (8:15), then they would ever so subtly move our dinner service a wee bit faster than usual so that we could catch a show. We never felt rushed, we always enjoyed our meal at a leisurely pace, always enjoyed the entertainment from the wait staff, and the food itself was perfect every evening. You MUST try the warm chocolate melting cake with the scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side...pure indulgence! The only thing we were disappointed about was that we had the table for 4 all to ourselves each evening. I don't think anyone else was assigned to sit with us. We are very sociable people, and looked forward to sharing thoughts or excursions with another couple. However, having a table to ourselves meant that we could review our pictures for the day on our camera without being rude to others. So, it all worked out. We had one dinner in the Golden Fleece Steakhouse. That is a very upscale dining experience and at $30 extra per person, worth trying at least once on your cruise. The wait staff in this dining venue is perhaps a bit more "uptight" or stuffy, or uber professional than in Truffles. We actually preferred the more familiar, fine dining yet slightly laid back style in the Truffles dinging room. At the Golden Fleece we did have a window side table which allowed us a lovely view, and a few joggers on the track outside. The steaks and surf and turf were exceptional, it was all very upscale and classy, somewhat nuveau cuisine. The Sommelier, Marco, is very good at his craft. We met him in the atrium on Embarkation day when he was advertising the wine packages. We are very knowledgeable about wines, etc. and we know what we like, so we approached Marco about the wine package and found the mid-level package to be the most economical based on the selection of the wines available in it. Obviously there is going to be a mark-up on the price per bottle, but when you consider that you are paying the 15% gratuity just once with the package instead of 5 or 10 times (once for each bottle or glass you purchase), then this seemed like a no-brainer. Plus, you can order the bottle from any bar and even take it to your room. Or you can order a bottle with dinner, or in one of the lounges, or both, your choice. It worked out perfectly for us. Before our cruise we also purchased 4 sheets of bar credits which are basically coupons for alcoholic beverages, there are 4 coupons per sheet and we purchased 4 sheets. If the drink you purchase is more than the cost of the bar coupon then they charge the extra amount to your S&S card. It was a handy thing to have that we knew was technically already paid for, and we would purchase those again on our next cruise. It's also a good thing for friends and family to purchase for you as a gift toward a special occasion. Ledo deck dining is buffet style dining and there are PLENTY of options for everyone. We ate at the Unicorn Cafe (Ledo deck dining buffet) for breakfasts and lunches (if we didn't lunch on an excursion). It was all very good food, and we pretty much tried something different every day. The deli bar is wonderful, highly recommend the Reubens. The pizza bar is wonderful. Salad bar is extensive and equally as wonderful. The dessert bar seemed to be the most crowded one, and there are essentially 3 stations at the dessert bar, so if the line seems long, just jump to the next station where you see the stacked plates and rolled up silverware, that's the beginning of the next station, it keeps the lines moving faster especially if you don't want anything from the first station. DH and I didn't really go on a cruise to eat so we only went to the dessert bar once, we went on this cruise to explore, do things that we wouldn't or couldn't do at home, and experience the blue water, sun and fun. The food was great, but we pretty much ate like we would at home, we were more than satisfied and neither of us gained any weight! Of course we were a lot more active with the swimming, snorkeling, kayacking, jet skiing and walking than we would be at home or at our desks, so that certainly helps. We also drank a lot more than we normally would...hey, it's a vacation and it's not like we were piloting the ship or anything.
Lounges and shows - we saw Jazz Hot in the Follies Lounge which is a sort of conglomeration of off-broadway shows pertaining to jazz sing and dance numbers. It was fun, and if it seems "over the top" remember it's supposed to be staged like a broadway show number. There is certainly a lot of talent on board, and the quick changes by the dancers/singers was a show on its own! It was lively, colorful, and enjoyable. The Punchliner's Comedy Club in the Firebird Lounge was definitely a favorite among the passengers. Get to the shows early or you will have standing room only. The Punchliner Comedy show is a new addition to the Spirit class ships, apparently, and it's so popular they are adding it to other classes as well. We saw Diane Ford, Larry Omaha, and Scotty K....all very different and all very funny and good. They do a PG rated show early, then the more R rated, adult only shows later. We played BINGO once in the Follies lounge, and we watched Wee Jimmy's version of the Newlywed Game in the Follies one afternoon...VERY entertaining indeed! We saw Mr. H in Billie's Piano Bar the first night on the ship, that was sing-a-long fun with a variety of music. We also listened to a variety of "one man bands" in the various lounges on board. Most of them were good. We never went to the Medusa's Lair which I guess is a disco, but I'm sure it was full of young, energetic dancers. The Dream Team sports bar is one place where people could smoke cigars and get pitchers of beer. We almost went there but time got away from us doing other things.
Spa Carnival - DH and I pre-purchased a couples massage for the first evening on board so that we could work all of the knots of our daily lives out of our systems and begin our leisurely fun cruise in earnest. Our appointment was at 5:00 and should have concluded by 6:00 so that we could get to the Sun deck and watch as the ship passed under the Skyway Bridge, which we understood should happen between 6:30 and 7:00 P.M.. We were looking forward to that. We were taken 20 minutes late for our massage and when we were done 50 minutes later, and after the sales pitch for more products and services, we looked at the clock in the reception area of the spa and it said it was almost 7:20!! How could that be?? We asked our massage therapists if we missed the Skyway Bridge and they both said yes, that we'd already passed it! We were so disappointed and couldn't figure out how all that time got away from us. We went up to our room to the balcony, looked out and here comes the BRIDGE!! We didn't miss it but now we were cutting it too close to get to the sun deck in time to see it pass under the bridge! Ugggghhh. We were really disappointed and misinformed. Bummer. Guess we'll have to go on the cruise again to really see it. The massage was nice, it served the purpose, we were definitely relaxed afterward...but the room we were in was very warm, and we kept feeling as though we were sweating and felt like we needed a shower afterward. I expected a moderate temperature, not a sauna, but that was o.k. We lived, and we got the knots worked out. Having experienced the massage, though, we would probably skip it on the next cruise only because the sales pitch for additional services at the end made us feel like the tension was creeping back into our necks and shoulders. Yes, we KNOW we have dry skin and I KNOW I have cellulite but let's face it, we're not 20 years old.
Ship movement - Honestly, we never felt any movement of any significance. The only time I could detect any movement of the ship was at dinner when we were sailing away from a port and as we picked up speed there was a little movement, but not much. We saw people with the transdermal patches behind their ears, but we never felt we needed anything at all. Of course we did have a water bed for several years, so maybe we are just acclimated to the water. We go boating on rivers and that provides a heck of a lot more movement than this cruise ship ever could, we thought it was fine. We sailed the last week in May which is before hurricane season and just after the rainy season in our ports of call in the Western Caribbean, so we had very smooth sailing and picture perfect weather.
Cruise Elegant evenings - My husband brought his full tuxedo ensemble for the cruise elegant evenings, and a sport coat, tie, shirt and dress slacks for the Golden Fleece Steakhouse evening and it all worked out beautifully. I had two different cocktail dress ensembles and a little more dressed up sun dress for the steakhouse night. We did see others dressed as we were both nights so that was fun, some people really went all out and took advantage of the photo ops while they were dressed up, while others went more with khakis with shirt and tie for the guys, and nice sun dresses for the ladies. We never saw anyone dressed inappropriately in the Truffles Dining room. However, the Ledo deck dining could have issued a few rules with regard to the level of dress in there there. Because of the proximity to both main pool areas, the Serenity pool deck and the Ledo Pool deck, the Ledo buffet dining is in between the two pool areas so you will understandably see a lot of pool cover ups, flip flops, hats, etc. What we did NOT enjoy seeing was young women with bikinis and flip flops and nothing else on while reaching too and fro for cups, plates, food etc. with various body parts hanging out. That's a little TMI in a dining area if you ask me. Perhaps the men didn't mind this but these girls had less on than the waitresses at Hooters. And likewise there were men in swim trunks, no shirts, with hairy chests, bellys and pits, reaching to and fro and dishing out their food and that was a little unnerving as well. There ought to be at least a shirt/pool cover up rule in that dining area. On the other non-elegant evenings in the dining room people remained respectably dressed in dress shorts, polo shirts, docksiders, nice sandals, sun dresses, skorts, casual summer tops, etc.
Casino - We never partook of the casino games however, I did take a James Bond-ish photo of DH in his tux standing at the Roulette wheel just for fun. We don't do well around a lot of smoke, and it gets pretty thick in there. We also haven't done any gambling other than a Texas Hold 'em style poker game once or twice, so the whole gambling thing eludes us. It was a big casino, very Vegas, and you have to pass through there on the way to the lounges and back, or go on another deck to avoid the casino.
We never used the gym, but we brought clothes and shoes to use it just in case. Honestly, we were too busy to use it. There is so much fun going on all the time all over the ship that we just didn't have time! We went to bed thoroughly exhausted from fun and sun each day, and rose early to meet our excursion group every day, it was the most fun we've ever had! We even purchased a certificate towards a future cruise while we were on board, we loved this cruise so much!
Debarkation day - Bummer...we knew it would go too fast. DH and I sat on the Serenity Deck area waiting for our Zone 8 to be called, all the while trying to devise ways to become a stow-away on the next sailing... We'll be back on another Carnival cruise and next time with a GOLD past cruiser S&S card in hand!!