Carnival Legend - Western Caribbean: Carnival Legend Cruise Review by Gerald Breau

Carnival Legend 3
Gerald Breau

Overall Member Rating

Carnival Legend - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: March 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This was cruise number five for us and the second on a Carnival cruise ship. The last Carnival cruise was 1990 in the now gone 'Carnivale' so we thought it was time to give this line another try. Since 1990 we had been sailing on RCCL.

Embarkation: Port Everglades was a great place for catching our cruise, as the port, airport and hotels are all a very easy commute. I can see why they call this city the Venice of America. We stayed overnight before sailing and elected a three day stay on our return before heading back to Canada (where on the east coast the winter has actually been very mild with little snow).

We headed to the port on Thursday morning March 9th to begin our eight day cruise to Panama, Costa Rica and Belize. We arrived early, about 11:00 and did wait about an hour before boarding but that was expected as they do have to clear the ship before allowing the new group of passengers on board especially if you are trying to be an 'early bird'. Arriving at More the port is best described as very organized chaos. Although people are running everywhere there does seem to be enough direction to get you in the right line in the right doorway.

The ship: We had booked an extended balcony on the Panorama deck (just below the pools) and had noted in some previous reviews that it could be noisy but we did not find that to be the case. This was our first cruise with a balcony having always chosen the interior cabin since we spend so little time in the room. We were very happy with the choice and even looking out at a new port in the morning was a nice treat. We were very happy with the room and found the beds more comfortable than most ships we have been on. The cabin steward was always attentive to our needs and met us with a smile in the hallways. We will certainly look at balconies again for our next sailing.

This ship does rock and creak more then others I have been on so take note if you are prone to the motion of the ocean.

We had read in other reviews that a key element of the ships decor was the use of repetition in the design, most notably the use of urns. Well, although I appreciated a decor that was more subdued, after a day or two this styling was simply gloomy. The ship is to dark and so cut up. For example, you must navigate your way through smoke filled bars to get from one part of the ship to another. Another example is in the dining room where the extensive use of booths with arched backs gives the dining room a closed in claustrophobic feel. The artwork on display on this ship also leaves a lot to be desired. The pool decks an spa area were fine but on this ship they roll up the carpet by 8:00 when the place becomes deserted.

Dining; One of the reasons for going back to Carnival was all the talk I have heard about the food being so good - yes and no. On the Lido deck they have made use of separate serving stations so you can go to one area for Chinese food, another for deli, another for salads and so on. This works very well allowing you to pick and choose your fare as in a market environment. The food was surprisingly good for a buffet restaurant, always fresh and appealing. I wish I could say the same about the dining room where the evening offerings were limited and often lacking in taste and presentation and imagination. There were a few exceptions but I would give the dining room thumbs down. This was compounded by terrible service. Maybe it was our waiter's first day on the job, I am not sure but food was always late and we just didnt have the service that we have enjoyed and come to expect when paying good money for a cruise experience. We found the same spotty service at lunch and breakfast in the dining room as well - ordered soup did not arrive, a request for eggs slightly more cooked met with a response 'they are all done like that it will take at least half hour'. Elsewhere on the ship staff were always hospitable but there is certainly something lacking in the dining room. I know others have had excellent waiters but that was not our experience.

Entertainment: A hat off to Lenny Halliday the cruise director. He was really great and not afraid to jump in and participate himself (his takeoff on Dolly Parton was hilarious). One of the best cruise directors we have seen on our cruises. Take a look at the Follies lounge after boarding to pick out a good seat, there are obstructed views by columns and by the balcony railings so watch where you choose to sit. There was the usual mix with a couple of Vegas style shows (excellent) and then a blend of entertainment from comedians to hypnotist (terrible)and two nights where passengers were themselves the stars backed up by the ships orchestra, dancers and lighting effects (surprisingly good and enjoyable). Daily entertainment on other areas of the ship was mediocre, the pool side band was terrible.

Ports of call: One of the reasons for this cruise was to get to a few new ports notably Colon Panama and Limon Costa Rica (we had been to Belize before and still enjoyed it). The poverty of Panama was evident when heading out on a tour with buildings in need of repair and garbage everywhere (and I do mean everywhere). We had seen the poor conditions of many Caribbean areas but I think this was the worst. A tour to the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal was a highlight. We do have locks in Canada but these were notable for their sheer magnitude. We also spent time at the Portobello fort but if you have seen one fort you have seen them all - more time at the locks would have been preferable. In Costa Rica we opted for the combination tour by Bus, train and boat. It was worth it and gives you a good sense of the tropical nature of this very interesting country. Wildlife was also plentiful with good views of the howler monkeys and the sloths which inhabited so many of the trees that we passed. A stop at a banana plantation was a treat for this northern person, next time it will be the pineapples.

Overall experience: When there are elements of a trip that are dissatisfying we still make the best of it and we did have a great time. This is just not the ship I would pick in terms of its ambience (Grandeur of RCCL was a better choice) and we were let down by the quality of food and service in the dining room, two thumbs down. Two thumbs up for the casual dining on deck and for the overall quality of the entertainment in the Follies Showroom. Less

Published 04/19/06

Cabin review: 8156

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Gerald Breau
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