Carnival Legend is the third ship in the Spirit Class, which introduced some significant firsts for Carnival, including alternative restaurants and onboard wedding chapels. Spirit-class ships also offer an impressive 80 percent ratio of outside cabins, as well as lots of nice little touches like museum-quality artwork and 'designer' martinis.
In early 2014, the ship underwent a $47 million refurbishment in readiness for its debut into the Australian market.
In a nutshell, the major renovation added the Australian-only Green Thunder slide, Splashdown children's waterslides and drenching bucket, Serenity Retreat for adults, Bonsai Sushi restaurant, RedFrog Pub and new Aussie beers (including the specially-crafted Thirsty Frog Summer Ale) and the Cherry on Top candy store. Australian power outlets were added in staterooms and Australian coin poker machines (slot machines) put in the casino. Other areas that were refurbished included the fitness centre and several of the public areas. New menus were added to the main restaurant and the specialty Nouveau restaurant.
On the entertainment side, Carnival Legend has introduced Playlist Production music shows to an Australian audience for the first time (think Motown and Epic Rock shows), as well as new family entertainment that includes 'Seuss at Sea' and 'Hasbro, the Game Show'.
Although refreshed, the decor of the main public areas remains unchanged, and the central theme onboard Carnival Legend -- great legends of the world -- is carried throughout the ship's 12 passenger decks, 16 lounges, and indoor and outdoor promenades. Many Australians not used to the glitz and neon of Carnival Cruise Lines' ships are likely to find the 'legends' and the Grecian urn motif a bit much, not to mention the huge painting of Colossus straddling the central atrium area (rather than Rhodes).
At 88,500 tons and carrying 2,124 passengers (2,680 at full capacity), Carnival Legend just skirts the high side of mid-sized -- large enough, but not particularly crowded. We found it quite easy to find our way soon after boarding. Its new passenger base will appreciate the 'Fun Ship' touches, such as an onboard golf program, duty-free shopping mall, video arcade, 1,800-square-foot (167.23-square-metre) children's play area and 'Green Thunder' -- as of 2014, the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea.
Before arriving in Australia, Carnival Legend carried a broad cross of (mostly) middle America. According to Carnival, 30 percent of its passengers are younger than 35, 40 percent are between 35 and 55, and 30 percent are older than 55. While cruising in Australia, the ship is expected to carry a similar profile of Australian passengers (as well as a fair contingent of New Zealanders) in the 35-and-older age group. As the ship is based in Australia over the summer, including the six-week Christmas and January school holidays, there will be plenty of families. Cruisers who want to avoid kids should travel between October and mid-December and from February to April (but not Easter).
Carnival has a pretty laid-back dress policy. Most evenings are 'Cruise Casual', where passengers can wear anything from smart jeans (no cut-offs) and dress shorts to trousers and casual skirts or sundresses. As long as you're not wearing swimwear and workout clothes and men don't wear sleeveless T-shirts or tank tops, you won't be turned away.
One or two nights per cruise will be designated 'Cruise Elegant'. Men are requested to wear dress trousers and dress shirts, with jackets optional. If men want to wear suits or tuxedos, then they are free to do so. Suggested attire for women is cocktail dresses or gowns, or dressy trouser suits or skirts. Many people do like to dress to the nines on these cruise elegant occasions and pose for photos while other passengers watch these proceedings in the Atrium Bar.
By day, the dress code is tropical as the ship visits the gorgeous isles of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji (with the occasional foray to New Zealand, where it's a little bit cooler).
Bear in mind that there will also be two themed nights -- Mexican Fiesta and Caribbean Holiday -- so pack some colourful outfits to get into the dress-up groove.
A two- to five-night cruise will have one 'cruise elegant' night. Cruises of six nights or longer will have two.
For Carnival Legend's seven-month seasonal deployment, Carnival has done away with tipping and incorporated gratuities into the cruise fare. The move reflects the fact that Australians resent having tips automatically added to their cruise accounts and question why the cruise line cannot pay their staff adequately. The 15 percent gratuity usually added to bar drinks and wine at dinner has also been scrapped. Australians do tip for service when dining on land, and those who feel they want to tip their cruise staff can still do so at their discretion.
When the ship sails from ports outside Australia, Carnival will no doubt adjust its daily rates. In the past, they have been $12 per person, per day, which covers dining room services, cabin services and alternative services (including kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staffmembers). The amounts are automatically added to shipboard accounts, but they can be adjusted in either direction at the front desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).