Let me start by saying that I have always been a Carnival fan, and started sailing on their ships 24 years ago. We have sailed on other cruise lines, and always end up coming back to Carnival. That being said, we are now seriously ... Read More
Let me start by saying that I have always been a Carnival fan, and started sailing on their ships 24 years ago. We have sailed on other cruise lines, and always end up coming back to Carnival. That being said, we are now seriously considering switching our allegiance after the disappointing experiences of this cruise.
This was a repositioning cruise, Carnival was switching the Legend from sailing Australia to Alaska cruises. My honest opinion is that cruising Hawaii was a last-minute thought which was merely a way to cover the expense of moving the ship. We flew to Honolulu, boarded the ship, sailed around the islands for six days, then had five days at sea sailing to Vancouver, B.C.
The bad experience started with embarkation, which was a nightmare. The ship was spending two days in Honolulu, with no excursions on the first day. A number of our fellow Cruise Critic members took advantage of this to book a luau, which was picking them up at the dock at 3:30 that day. Although I really wanted to go to a luau, our plane wasn't landing until 1:15 p.m., and I was afraid we would be too tired (we were dealing with a six-hour time change). Instead, we planned to board the ship, drop off our carry-ons, and walk the few blocks over to Chinatown, where I wanted to obtain a flower lei. The Carnival representative who met us at the airport said we would be given flower leis at the pier. That was a lie. In fact, there were no flower leis for sale anywhere on or around the ship during the entire cruise.
Because of some luggage problems at the airport, it was close to 3 when we arrived at the pier. Imagine our surprise after going through security to enter the building and discover it was wall-to-wall people! Although everybody was supposed to be checked in by 4, they had still boarded hardly any passengers on the ship. We were told that we were in boarding group 20, and at that point we heard them calling group three. There was no place to sit, barely any room to stand, and they seemed to be calling groups about 20-30 minutes apart. That did eventually speed up some, but it was still nearly 5 p.m. by the time we made it to our cabin. For the first time in history, our luggage beat us to the cabin!!! We had early dinner at 5:30, so that took care of my plan to get a lei (I was unable to ever find one). I never heard if anybody made it to the luau. Not surprisingly, Carnival never told any of us what caused the delay in embarkation, although the rumor was that immigration made them fingerprint and do a retina scan on all the crew. One of our tour guides later told me that often happens when Carnival comes to Hawaii, so if that was the case why weren't they prepared for it?
We had excellent service in the dining room, and pleasant table makes. However, the food for the most part was average cruise food. Twice I ordered steaks medium-rare, and both times they came well done. One night the offered "Southern pecan pie" on the menu. We all agreed that we didn't know what it was, but it wasn't pecan pie and nobody could eat it. The very best food we had on the entire cruise was the sandwiches in the deli. One time I went to the specialty coffee shop and ordered a frappaccino. The girl said, "That's with ice, right?"
The first night, when we remained in port in Honolulu, they brought on a local dance troupe that did native dances from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Maori. They were excellent, the very best entertainment on the entire cruise. The show band on Legend consisted of two guitars, drums, and a keyboard. There was no ballroom dancing available anywhere on the ship, nor were there any big "Las Vegas" style shows. The cruise director tried to say that the theater on the ship was too small for big reviews or a full band, but we have had them on other Carnival ships with much smaller theaters. We did try to go to one review called "Brits," but the pre-show was so loud that we tried seats in five different locations and then gave up and left.
There were over 120 people in our Cruise Critic group, and we requested a time and place for a meet & greet months in advance. Carnival was unable (?) to give us a time and place until three days before the cruise, when they advised us that we could meet in the Firebird at 3 p.m. on May 14, three days before the cruise ended, and that we would have a cash bar. The night of the 13th we learned that the returning cruisers (VIPS) party was scheduled at the same time, and was only 30 minutes long. We opted to go to the meet & greet instead, but it appears that many of our group went to the VIPS party. When we arrived for our party, a Carnival representative was using the room to give a future cruises talk. There were only a few people there watching her, and they kept shushing us. We finally went to Guest Services to find out what was going on and they responded that John Heald (who was on the ship) couldn't make it to our meet and greet so they just cancelled it without notifying anybody!!! We told the future cruise speaker what was happening and went ahead and had our party anyway. She left shortly after that.
We had shore excursions on each island we visited, and they were all excellent. The only problem was that it was cold and poured rain the entire time we were in Hawaii, but that isn't the fault of the tour companies or of Carnival. In fact, I had researched the weather before we went and learned that May is usually the driest month in Hawaii, with daytime highs in the mid-80s and lows around 78. Instead, we experienced daytime highs in the mid to upper 60s (which is cold if you come from south Florida).
We notice that there hardly any activities on the ship the six days in Hawaii, but we chalked that up to most people taking excursion. Unfortunately, there were also few to no activities during the five days at sea. Because of the rain and cold, the Lido deck was nearly unusable. This was probably the only cruise you will ever see where all the deck chairs were available all the time. I understand that the Legend has a retractable dome to cover the Lido pool, but it was broken and they were working on it the entire cruise. In addition, there was no TV until the last day of the cruise. There were messages on most of the channels stating that they were working with Dish to try to resolve satellite problems. Really? In the middle of the ocean, with no towns, trees, or anything else to interfere with the signal and you can't pick up the satellite? As a result, most people spent the five days in their cabins reading or sleeping from boredom and only came out for meals.
It was easy to save money on this cruise, the ship's shops had no souvenirs! This was my 19th cruise, and I have bought a ship magnet from every one of them until now, but the gift shop had NO magnets at all. There was also no ship's pins, and the only tee shirts said something like "Don't worry, keep drinking." It was apparent that the gift shop had sold most of it's inventory in Australia and wasn't going to bother to replenish until it got to Vancouver.
In addition to being rainy, the five days at sea were extremely cold (the day we landed in Vancouver my cell phone showed that it was 30 degrees outside). Although we turned the thermostat in our cabin as high as it would go, there was no heat. We finally asked the steward to have somebody come check the thermostat as we thought it was broken, and he informed us that there was no heat on that ship because it was a "fire hazard." I asked what they planned to do for their passengers going to Alaska and he replied that they were stocking up on plenty of blankets.
Although we were an hour late getting started, we chose to self-disembark in Vancouver and it went very easily.
From communication with a number of other Cruise Critic members I have learned that everybody sent Carnival very bad reviews of this cruise. Interestingly, most of us have received frequent reminders that the reviews need to be returned even though we have done to repeatedly. One member even went so far as to call Carnival to check, and was told they have no record of having received her review. It appears that Carnival's computers may have been programmed to reject reviews that are less than stellar. Nonetheless, the fact remains that this Hawaiian cruise was a total disaster. I truly feel sorry for those passengers who had never sailed on Carnival before, I doubt that any of them will ever come back. I have noticed Carnival's cruises going downhill the past few years, so I have to wonder if this experience is really indicative of their current offerings. I am afraid to book any more Carnival cruises because "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Read Less