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Sail Date: July 2013

Carnival Legend Baltic Cruise

July 27-August 8, 2013

PORTS: Copenhagen, Berlin (Warnemunde), Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Amsterdam

US: Couple in their 50s celebrating our 30th anniversary this ... Read More

Carnival Legend Baltic Cruise

July 27-August 8, 2013

PORTS: Copenhagen, Berlin (Warnemunde), Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Amsterdam

US: Couple in their 50s celebrating our 30th anniversary this year.

EMBARKATION: Fairly smooth and quick. We did not book our flights with Carnival so we were very pleased that Carnival reps were waiting for us at Heathrow, even though our flight arrived around 6:00 a.m. We were able to find seats in the baggage area and we waited for a few other flights to arrive before we were able to board a bus to Dover. There was a bit of congestion on the highway to Dover, but nothing too terrible. It was raining, but we were going on a cruise so we were happy, and also exhausted from not being able to sleep at all on our flight. We arrived at the port and the process to board did not take too long. Once onboard we went to the Lido for lunch. After lunch we checked and our cabin was ready for us. We napped a bit until the muster drill.

CABIN: We had an extended balcony cabin on deck 7. It was mid-ship and was really a great location for getting anywhere on the ship. We did not hear our neighbors at all, but we did hear children running up and down the halls on this cruise. It sounded like it was on the deck above us. We had plenty of room in the cabin, including closet space, and our steward, Mart, was very gracious and took good care of us, including bringing ice for my ankle after I fell getting off the train from Berlin. Very few amenities in the basket in the bathroom, but it did include a tube of toothpaste which I used throughout the cruise and did not have to use my travel tube. Beds were really hard. I felt sore, but I'm used to my memory foam mattress pad at home. We were able to adjust the room temperature to our satisfaction. We were able to get 3 of our 4 suitcases under the bed. We could have used more hangers in the closets, but it wasn't worth taking up room in our luggage or the added weight to bring our own. We both sleep with CPAP machines so it would have been wonderful to have an outlet anywhere near the bed. But I always travel with an extension cord in my CPAP case, so we were able to use the outlet at the vanity. We brought a travel alarm clock with us, but as we were frequently setting the time ahead and then back after Russia, it was easier to just use the ship's wake up call.

DINING: We were pleased with the food on the ship. We ate breakfast and lunches on the Lido and were satisfied with the selection and the quality of the food for the most part. Being that this was a European cruise, there were many cruisers from the UK on board and some of the stations served typical English breakfast. I had to hunt to find the good old American bacon. ? We had early seating in the MDR for dinner and ate with a couple from NY. Our meals in the MDR were mostly great. I had prime rib at least twice and it just melted in my mouth. Our wait staff, Wilton, Simona and Stanismer, were great. They always addressed us by our names and brought anything we asked for. They were quick to fill our water glasses and bring us bread. We even got a special dessert from Carnival one night because we were celebrating our anniversary. I just wish they had offered creme brulee more than once during this 12 day cruise.

One night we ate at the steak house. I wanted to try it based on recommendations here on CC, but I would not do it again. I think that the food we got was probably worth the extra fee, but I was perfectly satisfied with the food I had been getting in the MDR. Some of the items in the steak house were a bit fancy or fishy for my taste. The onion soup definitely had wine in it, which I know many would enjoy. I'm not a drinker, though, and the taste bothered me. I also felt the wait staff was a bit put out that we were not ordering wine with our meal. We just really don't drink. My steak was delicious, and I barely had room for any dessert. I ordered just the tiramisu part of the chocolate sampler. My husband was able to eat an entire dessert.

SPA: I had 2 massages in the spa. One was deep tissue and the other was hot stones. Both were very good, although very much overpriced. I did cave and buy one of the products used on me in the deep tissue massage, primarily because it was supposed to contain a topical anti-inflammatory. After my accident in Warnemunde, I was glad I had purchased it. I used the Jacuzzi in the spa once.

SERVICE: Our cabin steward and assistant and our dining room wait staff were excellent. Pretty much every Carnival employee we encountered was smiling, courteous and helpful. It was a pleasure. Even the bar staff was quick to serve us and friendly, even though we mostly ordered soft drinks that we pre-paid by purchasing the Bottomless Bubbles program. (This has not always been the case on our previous cruises.) I had an incident where I had to visit the infirmary, and the nurse was very kind and helpful. The only crew that actually annoyed us was a very abrupt photographer that came to our table every night in the MDR and ordered us around. She seemed to show up every night as soon as I put a forkful of food in my mouth to chew. She was also at one of the photo stations onboard and we avoided her station. But everyone else was smiling and friendly.

ENTERTAINMENT: We did not get to every show, especially the Welcome Aboard show, as we were completely exhausted that night. The music shows were fairly good and the costumes and sets for The Big Easy were great. The illusionist show bothered us. We hated the music and the costumes and choreography had kind of an S&M feel that I felt was inappropriate for kids. They did make several announcements about the costumes, but it was more than that. There was a definite sexual overtone to the show. And the music was very loud and annoying. We only attended one of the comedian shows and it was the family friendly version. We might have attended more of them or other events on the ship, but frankly we were pretty pooped on port days. This was not a relaxation cruise. The ports were the main thing. Even though the sun was still shining at 11:00 p.m., we were ready to call it a day and did not have the energy to stay up late this time. We enjoyed the show band. Some of the other musicians on board were okay. My husband particularly missed the classical trio that used to play in the atrium on some of our other cruises. The musicians they had seemed to have very limited repertoires. We did not get to the piano bar at all.

SHORE EXCURSIONS: We booked all but 2 of our shore excursions with Carnival. In Copenhagen we did the city tour with Tivoli Gardens. It was a disappointment, especially as it was our first port. We felt we saw very little of the city and had no time during the tour to wander around. We had 2 hours on our own at Tivoli, which was nice, but we had no Danish currency, and could not even purchase a drink. We used a debit card to purchase some tickets to ride one roller coaster ($26 for two of us for ONE RIDE!) because we had forgotten to have the pin# to our credit card with us. You had to have a pin # to use a credit card in Copenhagen. I had read this and had all the numbers in a binder with all of our cruise docs, but I just wasn't thinking and didn't write the number down and take it with me. As this was our first stop, a short day, and we were still recovering from jet lag, etc., we did not do anything else in Copenhagen.

In Germany we took the Carnival excursion to Berlin. Carnival rented a private train to transport all the cruisers that wanted to go to Berlin. It took about 3 hours each way. For the excursion we chose, we saw some highlights including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and remnants of the Wall. We had free time which my husband used to check out some museums and I browsed and relaxed at a mall and the area nearby.

In Helsinki, we did the Carnival's Highlights of Helsinki tour. This was a bit of a letdown for me. First of all it was raining pretty hard all morning. We went to Sibelius Park, the Rock Church, and as the rain got heavier and heavier, people didn't even want to leave the bus. At one point we stopped to look at a church and were supposed to have 30 minutes to explore the area. Someone said, "Just open the doors so we can take some pictures." The guide asked who wanted to return to the ship and most of us did. My husband and a few others stayed in town, and lucky for them the rain cleared. My husband had a lovely time including lunch in a market with lots of fresh fruit and veggies and a trip to an art museum.

We chose a private 2-day tour of St. Petersburg. We went with St. Petersburg Tours (TJ Travel). This was a very intensive 2 days. I believe we saw more than those on the Carnival 2-day tour. But we walked our legs off. I highly recommend St. Petersburg Tours, though. They were able to get us into the Hermitage before regular hours, although the Hermitage seemed to offer the same deal to many other tour groups. Everywhere we went was super crowded, and I would not want to be on my own in this city. We also visited Catherine's palace and the Peterhof palace and gardens with the beautiful fountains (took a hydrofoil back from there), the Spilled Blood Cathedral, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Yusopov Palace, St. Peter and Paul Fortress/Cathedral, the subway station and had boat ride on the canals. The tour included "a typical Russian lunch" both days. The two days were exhausting but well worth it.

Tallinn was the city I least was looking forward to seeing and it turned out to be my favorite. It was quaint and lovely. It was also a long way from port. We were told we could easily walk into the center of the old town, but for me it wasn't such an easy walk, especially after the two intense days in Russia. They have a hop on/hop off bus that I ended up riding around town, as I was not up for the private walking tour I had signed up for by the time I got to the starting point. I could have ridden this bus all day, especially on the open air top level. However, they have 3 different routes and they did make you exit when you had completed one of the routes. The scheduling was funky. Not all of the routes passed the same places, although all seemed to go to the port. But the drop-off spot for the port was nowhere near the ship. It was another long walk to get to the Legend and not easily defined. I spotted the ship and just kept walking until I found my way to the entrance of the dock. My husband chose to hop off the bus and make his way to the Festival Hall where they hold the music festivals. This was quite a ways outside of the old town. He was able to hop back on a bus and find his way back to the port but experienced the same frustration as I did because it wasn't anywhere near our ship and there was no clear way to get back to the Legend.

In Amsterdam we chose the Carnival tour that would take us to Anne Frank's House and also show us some city highlights. It was a good thing we chose the tour as we were able to get in much quicker than those who bought tickets on their own. Even so, it was a long wait and it was very crowded inside. Still, it was memorable and moving and worth seeing. It rained the entire day we were in Amsterdam, so it made sightseeing difficult and I'm sure everything would look much nicer on a sunny day. Again, I went back to the ship at the end of the scheduled tour, but my husband opted to head to some art museums on his own.

OVERALL: This was a fantastic cruise. We saw some wonderful things and our time onboard was a pleasure as well. Too bad Carnival chose not to continue this itinerary. I know everyone we talked to loved it.

 

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Sail Date: July 2013

This is a remarkable trip but very fast paced. It is also a very tiring trip due to 3 different time changes traveling from Dover to St. Petersburg and 3 time changes leaving St. Petersburg back to Dover. In our case, we spent 3 days ... Read More

This is a remarkable trip but very fast paced. It is also a very tiring trip due to 3 different time changes traveling from Dover to St. Petersburg and 3 time changes leaving St. Petersburg back to Dover. In our case, we spent 3 days prior to the cruise in London (Fri-Sat-Sun) including a day trip on the Eurostar to Paris (another 1 hour time change)on Saturday. Those wishing to do this trip please keep in mind, the train does not run on Sunday. Where ever you stay, you will need to be up around 4 AM and depart your hotel to be at the train station to check in and head to Paris on the 7 AM train. It is a 2 hr 15 minute trip at 186 MPH. This is a great experience and well worth the cost.

As for the ship. This was our 2nd time on the Carnival Legend and was very enjoyable. The crew was wonderful and very friendly. Always a smile and a hello.The food was some of the best we have had on a Carnival cruise. The only complaint was they only served creme brulee (our favorite) once in the 12 days. There were several kids on the cruise that were not well supervised and were running and pushing through the common areas and playing on the elevators while parents just looked on. We did have a cabin steward with over 20 years service and by far, the best steward we have ever had.

The Ports:

Dover: Ship departs here, but if you choose to be port side (balcony is great) then you get a great view of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Copenhagen: Beautiful city, we did a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery and got a few free samples. This was a very nice tour.

Berlin: We opted to take in the Top 10 sites via a train ride for 3 1/2 hours to Berlin. This is a very informative tour and really enjoyable. The train is not air conditioned, but choose your dates accordingly. We went in July and ride was pleasant with windows down. The countryside was really nice and the tor of Berlin was remarkable.

St. Petersburg: Although this is a remarkable cultural city, it was not one of our favorites as it turned out. An awful lot of walking when you do the 2 day experience. It was very beautiful, but you need to secure your wallets and valuables. One of our friends got hit by a pickpocket at the Hermitage and Tour Guide never bothered to contact the Police or the Hermitage Security People even though we were pretty sure we spotted the elderly lady who picked his pocket. Smoking is not allowed on the tour buses, but at each stop, the drivers would smoke and you could smell it once you returned. The driver or tour guide never inquired about the comfort of the passengers. It was usually way too hot and folks shedding jackets, etc.

Tallinn: What a pleasant surprise. After this visit, I can clearly see why this is a break-a-way republic of the old Soviet Union. I can't say enough nice things about this stop. A wonderful tour guide to start with on our trip to Old Town Tallinn. First thing was the comfort of her passengers. A lot of walking, but also a lot of stopping a long the way for pictures and to hear the history. A concert at the old church was remarkable and then to Old Town Center where we had a wonderful lunch and even our guide sat with us.

Helsinki: Another wonderful stop. We went to Old Town Porvoo which is very quaint and a nice place to visit. After that, we were served pasty and coffee at a nice resort, more like a bed and breakfast.

Amsterdam: Another remarkable stop. To get into Amsterdam, you go through a set of locks and follow the canal into the city. This was such a nice stop that if one would choose a place to stay and visit, this would be one of those. We did a tour to Edam and got to see the local countryside and all the farms and land recovered by building dykes over the years. In Edam, we visited a farm making Edam Cheese and had our choices of many different types of cheese from cows, goats, and sheep. We decided the smoked cheese (cow) was the best. Before heading to Edam, we did a tour to see the old windmills and a shop making wooded shoes. This was also a fairly long walking tour of the city of Edam, but did have time to takes some nice pictures.

Pre-cruise: London, our 3 day stay just was not long enough, we did see a lot, but so much more to see and do. Actually, you can get around pretty easy in London using the Tube, city buses,taxis,or hop-on hop buses. The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace happens at 11:30 AM each day. You need to be there around 10:30 if you want to get close to the Palace Gates.

 

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Sail Date: July 2013

About us: This was a Dad and Daughter trip. My family cruises together often as a group and my wife and I cruise as a couple on occasion as well. We have been aboard Carnival Legend before, having traveled from Tampa on a prior trip. ... Read More

About us: This was a Dad and Daughter trip. My family cruises together often as a group and my wife and I cruise as a couple on occasion as well. We have been aboard Carnival Legend before, having traveled from Tampa on a prior trip. Galveston is a very convenient port for us. Consequently, we tend to use Carnival often, although we have also used RCL and Holland America Line as well from other ports.

Booking the cruise was very easy through carnival. We lined up our flights through Expedia. I am not sure that the Cruise line might not have been easier, but that is how I did it. On the other hand, I managed a first class upgrade to JFK at least, so that was not too bad.

Embarkation day. We had booked a private tour through London Private Tours  David Hamed. More on his company can be found at Trip Advisor. The benefit here was sharing a private tour guide for just the two of us, along with a nice van to take the trip in. Very roomy. The night before David had booked a wonderful meal at a restaurant in the Shard. What views and what food! David picked us up from our hotel and traveled east out of London to the County of Kent, a beautiful area arriving eventually in Canterbury for a Cathedral and City Tour, followed by Dover Castle, the RAF Memorial on the cliffs of Dover and other of the beaten path attractions. We were delivered to the Cruise Terminal in Dover at approximately 2:45 pm.

Embarkation was really incredibly painless. We were aboard at 3:00 pm.

Monday, July 15th. On Board the ship we found we were going to have the legendary John Heald as cruise director, along with his side kick Calvyn. Throughout the trip we found John to be funny and engaging, although he was a bit incognito when not on stage. For those who like a more accessible cruise director this might be an issue, however it was not for us. His side kick was a guy whose apparent schtick is being in your face out of the closet 24/7. This did not bother us, although we did wonder how many parents with children found adult themes such as this to be a bit out of place at times. My point is that there is a time and a place for things, and 24/7 leaves little in the way for alternatives.

The Shipboard experience  The interior design is interesting but not too shocking as we have been on the ship before. It has been toned down from the Tampa times to reflect a less party-centric crowd and more family oriented crowd. Take note of this Mr. Asst. Cruise Director.

The ship does have a Serenity Area. Once the area is hopefully better defined and segregated similar to the concept on Magic and so on, it will be more attuned to the crowd on this ship. I am sure this will be addressed at the next refit. There is not an apparent Spa deck program yet on this ship. I think that doing something like this would improve Spa traffic and also reduce the number of annoying plugs and announcements apparently necessary.

We did late seating and hit the jackpot with our dinner guests. They were from Florida and were just lovely people. The young lady at the table and my daughter got along famously. The wait staff was very attentive. Irnya from Ukraine took the time to give us some really good tips and advice about St. Petersburg.

Bruce the Piano guy did a good job.

The wine and food pairing at the steakhouse during the day was informative, particularly for my daughter. sommelier tries. Nikolai the sommelier did a great job.

Formal nights tended to be dressier than your average Caribbean cruise. It was not a get drunk cruise crowd. However, it was not Cunard starch either. Men can do fine with a conservative blazer and wool slacks straight up to formal evening attire should they chose to do so.

The Crowd: The crowd was fairly international primarily Brits, Canadians, Americans, Aussies, a few Spaniards and a sprinkling of various other nationalities. English was almost universally the spoken language. While the average age was probably a bit over what you see on the Fun Boat types of trips, there were still plenty of families with children. The crowd was almost universally well deported with one notable exception detailed later. There was also one family from Argentina who seemed to almost miss the ship sailing at nearly every stop, including St. Petersburg (not a good idea) and it got to be an event to line the rails for their dock sprint. The Cruise Director, John Heald, even got on the intercom in Helsinki to announce a special watch sale in their honor. Very funny.

The Stops: Wednesday, July 17th Copenhagen. We did the Castles of New Zealand tour and it was really good. The history is fascinating and the facilities were gorgeous. The Lutheran Church in Frederiksborg Castle was a sight to behold along with the rest of the red brick and copper roofed faciltity. Kronborg Castle is a fairy tale facility commanding a narrow passage between Denmark and Sweden. It was the theme for Hamlet and apparently was used to collect duties until the pesky Americans started to refuse to pay in the 1800s.

Thursday, July 18th - Germany. We did the Berlin and Prussian Palaces Tour because it offered a good balance between WWII era history and the past and we were richly rewarded for this choice. Carnival uses a company called European Land Excursions to run this tour. The trip was efficiently run and jam packed without seeming rushed. The hostess on the train trip to and from the port in Warnemnde was Isabelle. She was warm, friendly, and engaging during the entire trip. Her knowledge of the area and the helpful tips and insights she provided were most beneficial to us. From a total customer experience perspective, Isabelle was one of the most effective hostesses I have experienced in many years.

Irma was out tour guide in Berlin and Horst was the driver. They worked beautifully together and ran the day like a well-oiled machine. It was never rushed, things were on time or ahead of time, and she packed in plenty without having it ever become overwhelming. Irma was really quite knowledgeable and was able to bring the history of an area or attraction to light be it from the 17th century or the 20th. She was a joy to be with the entire day. I was lucky to have her as a guide and my daughter agreed.

Overall, I would say that this tour guide combination and experience was the best we had on the twelve day trip. We saw many of the sights in Berlin such as the Holocaust Museum, Checkpoint Charlie, The Richstag. Under den Linden area, the Olympic Stadium, Potsdam, Sans Soucci Palace, Charlottenburg Palace (which was magnificent), and others.

Back on board it was open seating, but we skipped it to go topside and enjoy the German oompah band until sailing along with good sausages and brewskis on tap.

Saturday, July 20th - Helsinki. We booked the city tour and steam train to Porvoo excursion which wa cancelled due to mechanical issues, and ended up doing a private tour. We saw all of the things several combined ship tours would have seen without the waiting for stragglers. The tall ships were in port and it was really a sight to see. The Church on the rock and the Lutheran Cathedral are not to be missed. Porvoo was an interesting old town and we took time to do some wandering of the old steam train yards across the river which yielded great photos of steam locomotives and so on. Finland is a very nice country with friendly people. They are Social Democrats. The guide told us that there was a high suicide rate amongst young people who do not make it into the professional programs. Apparently they have to pass a grueling exam just to enter a lottery.

Sunday-Monday, July 21st - St. Petersburg. The Russians are really serious about immigration and so forth. If you are not on a ship tour, you have to get a Visa in advance. We did the two day grand tours from the ship. They were actually very good. We also did the folk dance instead of ballet and we really did enjoy it.

PLEASE NOTE: We were told many times about the problem of pickpockets in St. Petersburg so be careful of your things. We were told you can use Euros in many places and USD in some, but in the museums they seemed to want Rubles. We never used a credit card in St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, July 23rd - Tallinn. We took the walking tour. Tallinn is a wonderful old medieval town with a rich seafaring and trading history. The Guildhalls and commercial areas were very nice. We elected to stay after the tour and explore some more. Walking back to the cruise port was a snap. The shops were reasonably priced and a savvy buyer can find some nice buys on linen. Quality and pricing varies from place to place so it is fun to shop and to deal. The town square and the areas inside the walls were the highlights. Estonia has been fought over extensively by various parties, it seems. The people appeared to be quite thrilled with their independence. It was a completely different atmosphere than that found in St. Petersburg. The internet service and cell service was first class. This place is really wired in a wireless sort of way!

Friday, July 26th - Amsterdam. We were signed up for the Van Gogh Museum tour. It was cancelled by the ship. This was the third tour of the cruise not to work out, and once again it turned out for the best. We bought a Holland Pass at the cruise terminal which gave us unlimited tram and other public transportation, plus a nice canal tour, and finally fast pass entrance to the Van Gogh Museum. This was a huge home run for us. We managed to see all of the major highlights by tramming to the canal tour located closest to the museum and then which gave us a really comfortable tour before the rest of the cruise ship crowds swarmed in. Plus, fast pass entrance to the Museum was pain free, except for the looks from some of the folks in the other long lines who went for the cheap route. Holland Pass was definitely the way to go. We had lunch at a wonderful Indian Restaurant and headed back leisurely to the ship. Coming in and out of Amsterdam, including going through the locks was a joy to observe from the balcony.

The only blemish relates unfortunately to a certain family in the crowd. We had a nice suite on deck 6. There was a family in one cabin with two very young children, the oldest of whom could not have been have been out of 4th grade. The parents would essentially toss the kids out of the cabin at various times of the day and have them roaming the ship on their own. I am not making this up. One day the boy was out in the passage way too long and wound up soiling himself. The steward almost grossed out cleaning his hand prints off the passageway walls, and understandably so. Plus, World War III erupted in the cabin several times daily amongst parents as well as parents and kids and this was plainly within earshot up and down the hall. Security appeared multiple times. It is a shame. In Tallinn, my daughter and I were eating when an Aussie couple we had met stopped to chat. They started to describe kids they had found unaccompanied that morning and sent back to their parents with a crew member. They were amazed when we guessed the cabin number on the first try. Folks, when you become a legend like this on the Legend, it is not a mark of distinction.

With the notable exception of the classless parents, this was really a nice cruise. The ship was well maintained in its gaudy splendor, the crew was uniformly wonderful, the service was great, and the prices were reasonable, particularly if you purchase your wine carefully. We did do the Steakhouse twice and it is really a nice experience as well. Overall, the food was not quite as good as the last time on the Legend, particularly in the buffet, but we tend to avoid that anyway.

Carnival has had some bad luck recently, but it looks like they are working hard to make things right and get back on an even keel so to speak.

My suggestions: Dont make your customers mad by changing your frequent cruising program at a time like this, keep your foodservice reputation high, make sure to make the excursions happen, and man up to take care of reprobates when they appear.

The shore excursions that made were uniformly excellent. I did not downgrade for the cancellations.

Final Recommendation - This Cruise is a keeper. It has the right ports of call, great excursion options for those that make, plenty of alternatives when they don't, and a ship that is up to the task. Be sure to consider an excursion to or from Windsor Castle or Canterbury at the front or back end of the trip.

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Sail Date: September 2012

Our cruise departed from Dover on September 13th. Embarking the ship was fast and easy, but I did go online before the cruise to sign up.

We went to Liverpool(due to weather problems) first and as I had not been to England ... Read More

Our cruise departed from Dover on September 13th. Embarking the ship was fast and easy, but I did go online before the cruise to sign up.

We went to Liverpool(due to weather problems) first and as I had not been to England before I really enjoyed it(we did not get to go to Belfast, Ireland). Our inside stateroom was suprisingly spacious and our room attendants were friendly and attentive. We were on the lowest floor (called floor 1) for customers. Our location was very convenient for dinner and the evening shows.

The food was wonderful, the shows great. I enjoyed exercising with Damian in the morning(free stretching and abs class) and I enjoyed doing yoga(only 12 dollars a class). We liked playing mini golf and the ship had many competitions that my husband joined in(mini golf and bean bag toss). I did not bring my swim suit because I thought it would be too cold but it was warm in the covered pool area in the afternoon and many people enjoyed swimming and the hot tub. I went to the library and checked out a book and a scrabble game to enjoy on the sea days

Our port of calls were Dublin, Ireland and Glasgow, Scottland, Inverness, Scottland,edinburgh, scottland, stavenger, norway, le havre, france. I enjoyed all our port of calls but I did not use the carnival excursions due to the cost and having a crowd always present. Doing the ports on your own requires a lot of advanced planning and was difficult in france as I do not speak French. Stavenger, Norway was easy as there was a hop on hop off bus and it seemed like everyone spoke English. I loved the ship and I doubt any other cruises will ever be as good.

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Sail Date: September 2008
Carnival Splendour

We have just come back from an 11 night cruise form Dover (UK) to Rome on the new Carnival Splendour we are a UK couple in our Mid 30's and were travelling with my parents father 72 and mother disabled and ... Read More

Carnival Splendour

We have just come back from an 11 night cruise form Dover (UK) to Rome on the new Carnival Splendour we are a UK couple in our Mid 30's and were travelling with my parents father 72 and mother disabled and wheelchair bound, we were in the cheapest cabin we could get 1253 and my parents had a disabled cabin.

Ship The ship was lovely brand new and huge as with many new ships much oceanside space has been given to balcony cabins which meant that there was less promenade for us cheapies. The atrium was awesome all 10 floors of it with 4 glass lifts a lovely bar and dance floor at the bottom. The library was good and the shops better than many thought they charged 17.5% VAT in some shops but not others. The casino was awesome a little Vegas at sea and the slots seemed much looser than its Vegas counterpart. There were about 7 bars and a nightclub as well as a good amusement arcade and a kids disco. The Spectacular theatre was large and the seats comfortable but they could have cut some of the chrome and white lights to make it easier on the eyes. The lido deck had a fair sized pool and lots of loungers and a big screen that showed a concert and movies each night with two indoor spas tubs, there was an additional pool and two outdoor spa tubs at the back of the ship and another pool and spa tub on deck 11 along with a sports net with basketball hoop and a great 10 hole mini golf game. All of these facilities were very very good. The Spa and Gym must be the best at sea it was amazing.

Cabin The cabin was great the bed very comfortable and a good bathroom, every room includes beach towels and dressing gowns which everyone seemed to use at some point the cabin was kept spotless and the turndown service very good.

Entertainment The shows were poor very poor on at least 2 nights it was guests performing the quality was just not up to the level of other cruise companies, there was a lot to do in the day quizzes etc and these were good but they did not compensate for the evening shows. I was very disappointed with this and thought that whilst carnival is a cheaper brand that with 3.5k people on board they could get a decent programme going they were not a patch on Royal Caribbean which is a similar priced company.

Food Another let down, the main dining rooms were only open for breakfast and evening meals not lunch except on sea days whilst the food was fair the choice was not as good as other companies and it was aimed at a 3 course dinner and not the 5 we are used to (though you could order two starters and cheese if you chose). Usually for dinner we have to spend ages deciding what we want but on Carnival the choice was generally easy as there was not as much choice and on at least 2 nights we chose the Carnival Favorites that were available every night as there was nothing else that took our fancy. The food service in here was brilliant the best we have ever had on a cruise, though drinks seemed to take and age to come and more drink waiters should have been deployed. The buffet was very poor both in choice and standard of food, if you wanted breakfast that at a decent time you have to be prepared to wait a long time in a horrible queue although there are two buffet areas these are not nearly sufficient to deal with the amount of people at busy times we risked this once and then either had breakfast in the dining room or in the cabin. There were 4 food areas through the day one doing hot dogs and burgers, one doing deli sandwiches, one doing curry and one doing Pizza, I thought all of these were very good except the Pizza but my mum loved it so maybe that was just me. Pizza and room service were the only 24 hour fare and I think that this should be extended to sandwiches and say cookies. There were very good tea and coffee stations that also had ice cream and juices generally orange, apple, fruit punch and lemonade these were open 24 hours and you never had to wait too long in line. There was also a supper club that cost $30 cover we left it to late to try this but it looked very very good and exceptional value.

Embarkation/Disembarkation Shockingly bad there were no computers to check people in which meant it was all done by hand the check in people both took my and my dads credit card details down wrongly which meant our onboard accounts were disabled and we had to spend too much holiday time waiting to sort it out with the pursers, for a ship this size they need more pursers the queue was always long. We were told that we would disembark at around 0640 we were not called until 0820 this I thought was not fair as no one wants to get up this early when you are on holiday and an extra hour in bed would have made a huge difference.

Other things We felt that Carnival were trying to get you to pay for all sorts of things part of me thinks that the shows were meant to be bad so that you would either be in a bar where you bought drinks or in the casino. It was a non stop push trying to get you to buy trips with scare stories of European pick pockets or horror stories of trains not running on time and I overheard conversations about coaches for official trips being over an hour late so what the difference is I am not sure ! We had tannoy announcements about trips or reminding us to tip the poor maitre D it was constant the tannoy was used way too much and and I don't feel should ever be used to try to push trips or tips !We will probably not choose carnival again because we felt that they were trying to treat us like mugs.

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Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation in Dover was smooth. We discovered upon arrival at the terminal a credit card missing. The staff went out of their way to help us in calling the Dover hotel, to no avail. Once on board the Purser immediately called our Credit ... Read More
Embarkation in Dover was smooth. We discovered upon arrival at the terminal a credit card missing. The staff went out of their way to help us in calling the Dover hotel, to no avail. Once on board the Purser immediately called our Credit Card Company so we could cancel it. Not a great way to start a cruise, but fortunately all was OK thanks to quick responses from the staff. Aboard ship, we were not offended by the decor as others have noted. Yes it is Pink, but in some ways more elegant than the more garish, in your face Freedom decor. Getting around the ship is also somewhat confusing, but that is sometimes half the fun as you discover something new when you get "lost." Unfortunately the Sports & Piano bars were smoking areas so we couldn't frequent them. Laundry facilities are sparse, definitely more needed, especially for a 12 day cruise. On sea days people were lined up in the hallway to use the one facility on the 7th deck and other on the 9th deck. I felt sorry for passengers with cabins anywhere near the laundry. On another front, we were fortunate that the weather was very good, which in the Baltic is mostly iffy. The tour in Tallinn was a waste. We could have walked into town and seen as much. The other tours in St Petersburg and Berlin were great although very pricey. Our guides were knowledgeable & we definitely got a full day's worth on each tour. In all the other ports we ventured out on our own and had a great time. The canal boats in Copenhagen and Amsterdam are the way to go. Helsinki was easy to navigate too. Take the shuttle right on the pier into town. We then did a guided sightseeing bus from the drop-off point. Saved a bunch and had more free time to walk around.

Back to rating the Ship, the food was good and we easily changed our dining room and seating. We were originally assigned to the "Golden Pearl" at a table for two, which isn't much fun when you've been married over 30 years and heard each others stories a bazillion times. The "fried eggs" were plastic images meant to look like pearls in oyster shells, but really did look like... well you get the picture. Our new table was right by a window, which is where you want to be to enjoy the late sunsets. We loved the shows, especially Vrooom. We met the family of one of the dancers and it made watching her perform that much more special. Chris the violinist was especially entertaining, weaving a story between playing. Overall, we found all of the servers, staff and crew to be attentive, courteous, helpful and obliging when they could.

Our major issue could not be resolved by anyone on board. That responsibility belonged to the actual designers and builders of the Splendor. Our center aft cabin, which we loved for the extended rear balcony, was right above the El Morocco Lounge, which played live music each night until 1 a.m. There seemed to be no sound buffer at all. Having early a.m. tours, hitting the sheets by 11 p.m. seemed desirable, however not possible. Each night I lodged my complaint to the Purser and even had the night Housekeeping manager visit the cabin to hear the problem, which she acknowledged. Another passenger I spoke with also had noise concerns. His family had 2 cabins also on the Upper Deck (level 6) right above the Casino. It was open until 2 a.m. and all his family was sleep deprived too. While Carnival did provide a credit on our bill, I want to for-warn other Splendor travelers of the noise issues especially on deck 6 aft or mid-ship or any cabins near the atrium area on any deck. Too bad some of those millions spent to build this ship weren't spent insuring a good night's sleep for their paying passengers.

Overall, we enjoyed the ship, the ports, the food, the service and the shows. Just more sleep, more laundry rooms and fewer smoking areas would have made it an excellent versus an average experience.

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Sail Date: August 2008
We hired a car from Gatwick to Dover. When we arrived there was a lot of people offloading bags from buses, we were approached by a man who arranged for our bags to be sent through and for transport to collect us after returning the car. ... Read More
We hired a car from Gatwick to Dover. When we arrived there was a lot of people offloading bags from buses, we were approached by a man who arranged for our bags to be sent through and for transport to collect us after returning the car. When we joined the queue to get onboard, we were surprised how quickly we got through(as the computers were not working).

Once onboard we were offered lunch, and asked to wait in the public areas until the cabins were all ready. This did not take too long and some of our bags were also there, all of the bags arrived within a couple of hours. We explored the ship and yes it is pink, but it grows on you and becomes very relaxing.

The cabin has plenty of room for the varied clothing we felt we may need. Our steward was Junior who was on the ball and seemed to appear if we wanted to ask something of him. The cabin was cleaned to a high standard daily, we also ended up with our own zoo as we gained 11 towel animals.

The food, if you have sailed with Carnival before you expect good food and service and it didn't disappoint, we enjoyed dinner in the Black Pearl, Amela and Davor really looked after our every need. We tried most of the different eating areas available. The Pinnacle is a must, we went to help a couple celebrate their 40th anniversary, outstanding.

The entertainment is again to a high standard, with new shows and the specialty acts brought on were great as well.The entertainment team work hard putting on the daily games and quizzes. Children must be well catered for as we did not see any running wild on sea days. There was a magician,Rakesh, that walked around performing at tables, he was brilliant, no matter how closely you watch, or even if you know how it is done you will believe in magic. The CD was John Heald whose blog we read, he had a meeting with around 50 people who also read his 'Blog thingy' he sat and answered questions for about an hour, and still took time to speak to some individually afterwards.

Shore excursions, we took trips in each port, we booked beforehand and were happy with most, but without a doubt the highlight was St. Petersburg grand tour, spread over two days fantastic. All the tour guides were informative and spoke extremely good English. Our favorite Port without doubt was Warnemunde the people were so warm and lovely and gave us a fantastic send off. Amsterdam came close as well.

Disembarkation was so easy, we did self assist, walked straight off the ship and again we were directed to a shuttle bus to take us to the car hire pickup.

All in all it was a different type of cruise than we have done before but rates as one of our favorites and we were very lucky with the weather.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
This was my sixth cruise; my other cruises have been on NCL Pearl and Disney. This was a twelve day Northern Europe cruise out of Dover, England on Carnival's Splendor. I booked this cruise for the itinerary that included St Petersburg, ... Read More
This was my sixth cruise; my other cruises have been on NCL Pearl and Disney. This was a twelve day Northern Europe cruise out of Dover, England on Carnival's Splendor. I booked this cruise for the itinerary that included St Petersburg, Russia. I have been to Europe but had never visited the majority of ports of call on this itinerary. Added to the great itinerary is that the ship is the new Carnival Splendor.

I originally booked this cruise as a solo with an ocean view cabin. About a month before final payment, I added my twelve year old grandson to the cruise. This made the cruise even more special. At the time I added my grandson, I changed to a balcony cabin.

I booked the cruise directly with Carnival and made my own flight and pre-cruise hotel arrangements. Except for private tour in St Petersburg, I booked all Carnival excursions and Carnival transport from ship to Heathrow. From Heathrow to London, we used Dot to Dot and were very pleased with the service.

We had two pre-cruise days in London staying at the Marriott Hotel County Hall. The hotel is very nice but expensive. Breakfast was included in the price. We only ate breakfast once and for some reason the kitchen could not make pancakes which is what my grandson wanted. Another thing, kids are not allowed in the swimming pool after a certain hour at night. The Marriott Hotel is in a very convenient location, very close to the London Eye. A McDonalds is located in the same complex.

I had purchased tickets on-line for Buckingham Palace State rooms for the afternoon. There was a long line when we arrived but I believe we were touring the state rooms within thirty minutes of our arrival. It was a very impressive tour. Headphones are provided for a narrated tour. Photography is not allowed in the rooms. We purchased a few souvenirs from the gift shop (which was really nice) and then left to find a cab back to the hotel. We caught a hop on hop off bus close to the hotel but we were actually too tired to get off, so we just took in the sights from the bus.

For our second day I had purchased on-line the Complete London Tour from Golden Tours. I had read some negative reviews about Golden but our tour was just great. This was definitely not a drive-by of attractions. The bus parked away from the attractions and we had to walk to them. There was a lot of walking involved. We saw the Changing of the Guard, Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, and Horse Guards stable and did the Thames River cruise and ended with a ride on the London Eye. The tour guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and did a good job of getting us up close for the Changing of the Guard.

I booked the tour that included lunch. I would not have done that had I known the lunch stop would be near Covent Gardens. You only had two choices for lunch, chicken and one other dish. The chicken was tasty, but I would have preferred fish and chips. After eating, we walked around Covent Gardens and purchased souvenirs.

Monday morning, we checked out of the Marriott and took a taxi to Victoria Coach Station. I had booked a Fun Fare from London to Dover on the Victoria Coach. On the bus we met Cruise Critic member s and her family. She had organized our St Petersburg tour with Alla from our roll call. Her fourteen year old son and my grandson got together shortly after getting on the ship and became friends.

We all got off the bus at the Dover Ferry pier. There were no major problems except for a lack of taxis. It almost appeared there was just one taxi working. But once we got to the Splendor, our luggage was taken by a porter and check-in was very quick and easy.

The Splendor is a beautiful ship. The pink does not bother me. Our cabin was a balcony, one deck below Lido deck. There was plenty of storage. Bath gel and shampoo are provided but I didn't use them as I brought my own supplies. Our cabin Steward, Gilbert, did a great job taking care of the cabin and we got lots of cute towel animals.

We had early dinner seating in the Gold Pearl Lower at 6:00 p.m. Carnival seated us with a lovely lady and her beautiful sixteen year old granddaughter. My grandson and I both enjoyed our dinners with them. I went to a couple of shows with them and met for drinks while the kids were at their clubs.

Our servers were absolutely wonderful, Tajana, Natalya and Survantara (bar waiter). They were all friendly and very efficient. The food was good. The Sole Meunier was excellent, as was the lobster on lobster night. My grandson tried the flat iron steak several times and seemed to enjoy it. Other than that he stuck with pizza. The food was presented very nicely.

Regarding other food on the ship the chicken at the Rotisserie is absolutely delicious. It is a must try. I ate lunch there a couple of times. Carnival's version of Mac n Cheese is also good. The pizza is of course good. I didn't get to try the Deli or the Grille this time. I did have Room Service once, a very good bacon, and lettuce and tomato sandwich. The buffet entrees could be improved on but the salad bar was very good. The self serve ice cream was a big hit with my grandson. The buffet tended to get crowded at peak times. I went to lunch in the Main Dining Room once to avoid the buffet crowds. This was one of the best tasting meals I had, Chicken Parmigana and pasta.

The first day on board the ship, I signed my grandson up for the Circle C club. This is the kid's club for 12-14 year olds. His friend from our St Petersburg group tour also joined. This was really a fun club for the kids. They met other kids their age and started hanging out together. There was only 100 plus kids on this sailing. There were a lot of fun activities each day. Three times they went to the shows at the Spectacular Lounge as a group. Depending on port and sea days, the activities would start as early as 10 am. Port days, activities started later. All Circle C activities ended at 1230 am. My grandson loved the Club and meeting new friends.

I bought the soft drink card for my grandson as well as added money to his Sail and Sign card for the gift shop and arcade.

I booked all shore excursions with Carnival with the exception of St Petersburg. For the most part I was happy with the tours. I picked tours that involved walking so that was an advantage over just driving by a place to see through a motor coach window. The one disappointment (not Carnival's fault), is that most of the rides in Tivoli Gardens did not start until later that day. My grandson was looking forward to riding the Demon roller coaster. Our table partners and I believe all the people on our St Petersburg Tour did all of the ports on their own. We did the Copenhagen City Tour and Tivoli Gardens, Hanseatic Wismar and Fairytale Schwerin, Helsinki City Tour, Walk and Shop in Old Tallinn and Sightseeing, Canal Cruise & Shopping in Amsterdam. Our St Petersburg tour was arranged by S a very nice lady from our roll call. There were eleven of us (including the two kids). The tour was with Alla. We really didn't have a problem disembarking the ship. We all met at a designated time outside one of our member's cabin on the second deck. We simply merged in with everyone else leaving the ship. At Immigration, a Carnival employee tried to direct everyone to Carnival line or private tour line. We didn't pay attention to this, just tried to get in the shortest line. The lines actually seemed to move fast. We all had our necessary documents, passport, copy of passport page, and tour ticket from Alla. We were given the red sticker that had to be returned at the end of the day. The second day we all just met at 8:30 at Alla's van and it was even quicker getting through immigration.

Our tour guide Angie was excellent and our driver did a great job. Our group was just a great group, friendly and compatible. Of course, my grandson had already made friends with the other kid. I am so glad there was another kid. My grandson started out this trip very much into sightseeing from the beginning in London. By the end of the first day in St Petersburg, I believe he was very tired of churches and museums. Our first day in St Petersburg, we did a city tour, Hermitage museum, lunch at the Pie restaurant and then St Peter and Paul Fortress and Church on the Spilled Blood and St. Isaac Cathedral and the Synagogue. It was a very full and tiring day.

Our second day, before we left Alla came to the van and we paid her for our trip. Some of us paid with US dollars and some charged theirs. I really enjoyed the second day. We took a subway ride on our way to the Tsars Village. The subway stations are really quite magnificent. One of our group got left behind when we were getting on the subway. Fortunately, she knew to take the next subway for one stop where we were waiting for her. Fountain Park of Peterhof was the favorite of the boys. They ran through some of the fountains and of course got wet. We toured Monplasire Palace and from there walked to the Hydrofoil. Be aware that it is an extremely long walk from the Palace to the Hydrofoil. The Hydrofoil is worth the walk though. We were given the opportunity to shop at some very nice gift shops on both days.

The St. Petersburg port of call is one of the main reasons I took this particular cruise and I have to say it did not disappoint me.

I went to a few of the shows and especially enjoyed Vroom. It is one of the best shows I've seen on a cruise ship. It was colorful and filled with very good dancing and music.

All too soon it was time to leave the ship. Disembarkation was very smooth, even when it came to finding our luggage from the piles of luggage. A porter helped us with the luggage to the Carnival shuttle bus. I believe our color was called around 7 am and we were on the way to Heathrow by 7:30. Our trip home was uneventful, just very long and tiring.

This was a wonderful cruise. I had a great time and so did my grandson. I would actually like to do this itinerary again in a couple of years. Perhaps on Carnival's Liberty, if it is sailing in 2010. I will definitely cruise Carnival again.

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Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation was awful - they encourage you to do everything on the web site but then you get to the port and find yourself on line with a thousand other people who haven't completed all the info on the web site. Why bother doing that if ... Read More
Embarkation was awful - they encourage you to do everything on the web site but then you get to the port and find yourself on line with a thousand other people who haven't completed all the info on the web site. Why bother doing that if the end result is waiting on line with people who are having passport issues, visa issues, credit card issues, etc.

We purchased our tours through Carnival and will never do that again. The tours were crowded, disorganized and offered little value for the money that Carnival charges for them. Our St. Petersburg and Berlin tours were a mess. Our St. Petersburg tour guide became unglued by the size of our group, and apparently didn't want to do a tour of the Hermitage - after waiting for 20 minutes on the entrance queue, she decided a rest room stop was a good idea in spite of the huge lines in front of the rest rooms. We lost a half hour waiting for everyone. So after nearly an hour, we hadn't seen anything in the museum. She decided not to bring us to the impressionist portion of the tour because the museum was crowded. After 20 minutes in the museum, we did one more rest stop and headed back to the ship. We got a tour of the area surrounding the rest rooms for $79.00 a person. A total rip off.

Our Berlin tour was another fiasco. The information desk told us they'd start calling everyone for the "Berlin Top 10 Tour" at around 7:00 AM. What time did they actually call us - 6:30 AM! We literally flew out of our state room only to stand on line for 45 minutes. And as with most of the Carnival tours, we walked around the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag but couldn't go in and actually visit these historical places because we had spend 90 minutes walking around the shopping district. Sorry Carnival, I CAN GO SHOPPING ANYWHERE. They're so intent on making sure people shop, they must have some kind of deal. We didn't need to travel 7,000 miles to Berlin to shop. On our return to the ship, the lines getting back on were crazy and no one was directing passengers on where to go. After nearly a 14 hour day, people are tired and hungry. You would think Carnival would understand that. For this privilege we paid $159 a person.

I think their Cruise Director needs to be replaced; his descriptions of the tours had no basis in reality. We cruised with him in 2006 and our opinion of him then was poor. I didn't know he was going to be the director with this cruise also. Had I known, I would have booked my tours elsewhere.

As for the ship, the decor of the public areas is just awful. The state rooms are lovely and the cabin staff is terrific. The dining room staff was great but they could use some education with assistance in wine selections. The food was good but selection was limited. The Lido Restaurant was no better than cafeteria food and the service was slow, at best.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
Unfortunately, the one thing I will probably remember most is the hideous decor of this ship: pink circles everywhere along with black tile with green grout; flashing signs with lettering that changed colors; odd shapes and disjointed ... Read More
Unfortunately, the one thing I will probably remember most is the hideous decor of this ship: pink circles everywhere along with black tile with green grout; flashing signs with lettering that changed colors; odd shapes and disjointed visuals. If Salvador Dali had designed Atlantic City it would probably look like this. Several cruisers remarked that they would have skipped the cruise if they'd known it would be like spending 2 weeks in Las Vegas.

All of which is too bad because the ship has some nice features. Our balcony cabin was spacious, well-lighted, and exceptionally clean. The bathroom was roomy and bright. The flat-screen TV was a great touch.

The removable roof over the main pool was outstanding. Even in the North Sea the pool deck was enjoyable thanks to this feature. When the weather cleared, the sky-roof retracted to let the sunshine and fresh air in. Outstanding!!

The food was average to slightly above compared to other ships we've sailed. I especially appreciated the variety - a deli; sushi bar; pizza stop; burger bar; coffee/pastry shop; and more.

Service was poor. Every night I had to ask our waiter to get the drink steward over to take my order. On two nights I had actually finished my starters before she came over to take my drink order. Totally unacceptable. I attempted to call Guest Services at least 4 times, allowing the phone to ring at least 20 times each, but it went unanswered each time.

Entertainment: Poor. Singers/Dancers were mediocre at best. The closing night's act was an average "Rat Pack" singer that had folks leaving in droves. A magician/comedian was very entertaining, as was a West End soprano, but overall the entertainment was forgettable (and worth skipping).

Ship's deck plan was confusing. One of the main dining rooms is situated smack dab in the middle of the 3rd and 4th decks. If dining room is closed you have to go up or down several floors to get to other end of the ship. Very inconvenient. Someone else mentioned the "hard to find" public rooms. I agree. They were well-hidden. As was "The Web" Internet room which was actually inside a bar. Seems odd to have kids/teens have to walk through a bar when they need to use the Internet. There are deck maps posted at each lift, but they have such small print they were virtually useless.

Smoking: I was worried about this beforehand, but have to say it wasn't an issue for us. We're non-smokers and weren't bothered at all. Smoking was confined to certain areas and the rules appear to have been enforced. Bravo, Carnival!

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