First Time Cruisers Impressed with Carnival Legend: Carnival Legend Cruise Review by Goofydust

Carnival Legend 5
Member Since 2011
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First Time Cruisers Impressed with Carnival Legend

Sail Date: May 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
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! More 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!! Less

Published 03/26/12

Cabin review: 8K7180 Extended Balcony

We were in cabin 7180 on the Veranda deck, mid-ship, extended balcony. Wonderful unobstructed view from this balcony. The extended balcony I believe is deeper, not wider than a standard balcony. The cabin is spacious enough for 2 people to get around, it's about the same length as a regular standard hotel room but only about 1/2 as wide maybe. You don't need a lot of room, you aren't in there long enough to worry about the size. Bathroom is tiny but again you aren't in there long. Closet space and drawer space was ample for two people, even 4 people would be fine with the storage. It's a smart use of space overall. Did not hear any noise from any other cabins, just minor noises in the hallway when people were getting on with their day, to be expected really. Did not experience any engine noise or vibration in this location, no excessive movement of the ship either. It was perfect. It was a reasonable distance to the elevators and stairs too and pretty centrally located on the ship.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We did the Goff's Caye Snorkeling Excursion. 25-30 minute Power catamaran ride from the ship to the excursion location. This was supposed to be a snorkeling excursion for both beginners and advanced with the beginners snorkeling from the beach of this little barrier island and the advanced snorkeling right off the power catamaran in the deeper 10 foot waters in the reef. This is the 2nd largest reef in the world, 1st being Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The island beginner snorkelers, us, were taken to an island called Goff's Caye that is no bigger than a football field. All the way there the local Belizian tour guides and snorkeling guides kept touting it as "UnBelizable" and "Paradise"... the anticipation was killing us. We got off the boat, walked on a boardwalk to the main part of this island that contains about 8 or 9 palm trees, and the first thing we noticed was trash, garbage all over this beautiful little gem in the middle of the Caribbean. There were overflowing trash bins, there were styrofoam plates intertwined in the root systems of the palm trees, there were chicken bones and glass bottles and bottle caps all over the sand, it was disgraceful. There was a restroom building on this little island but the guide with the key to unlock it would not be on the island for another hour after we arrived. Here we have 80 people who've just had breakfast and coffee and a bumpy boat ride for 30 minutes and we all had to GO... Not sure where the "drainage" from this restroom was going since it was so close to the rocky side of this island... hmmm.... The beginning snorkeling group didn't get quite the instruction that we had hoped. Several of us had problems with flippers or life vests. My vest would not inflate and DH's flippers would not stay strapped on. We had to walk backwards in the sand with the flippers on out to the deeper water. My flippers kept filling with sharp coral sand and rocks, like stepping on chunks of glass. I kept stopping to clear it out and then I tripped, fell ass over elbows in the water and one of the guides told me I was holding up the group. My husband had a similar comedy of errors with his flippers not staying on and his mask kept fogging up and the guide said, "Sir, your holding up the group, what's the problem?" It wasn't a very welcoming experience and there was little regard for our "beginner" status. I bagged the idea and went to lay on the beach at 9:30 a.m. and noticed something move on the sand out of the corner of my eye. There were these large opaque colored sand crabs EVERYWHERE! And with all those discarded chicken bones on the island, I can see why. I'm surprised no one accidentally brought one of the critters on board the Carnival with them. Not a fan of the sand crabs. We hung out in the water, took lots of great pictures, saw some fan coral. A local merchant was selling jewelry there, Wilk shell bracelets, necklaces and earrings and black coral earrings and necklaces with flecks of gold in them. I did buy a little of each for $30. Another merchant was selling gorgeous carved wooden bowls and platters. They had someone else come out selling local Belizian beer, Belk, for $3 a bottle, it was very good and cheaper than on the ship. We were disappointed in this excursion because the island was so dirty, and even realizing it's a barrier island and it's going to trap it's fair share of debris from the water, but this was clearly garbage that had been left behind by a group the day before. Disappointing. We heard the more experienced snorkelers who went off the boat in the deeper waters talking about how great the experience was, so if you are experienced, this is the excursion for you.

Catamaran tour

The power catamaran ride to the Isla Passion (Passion Island) was very relaxing, beautiful and fun! Saw the Cozumel lighthouse on the way. Isla Passion is a beautiful, clean, pristine island with some local merchant shops for purchasing some souvenirs or Cuban cigars, a restroom facility, a large tiki hut for dining, and a smaller tiki hut as a bar. Activities included kayaks, water trampoline, beach volleyball. The shops have the typical items, shirts, hats, bags, and cigars among other things. Make sure you bargain with the merchant, never take their first offered price, that's only intended as a starting point and they will be very insulted if you take that price. Bargaining is a craft that they are very proud of, so work with them. If you don't arrive at what you feel is a fair price, then say no thank you and walk away... DH desperately wanted a Cuban cigar, merchant initially asked $85 for 1 cigar (they think all Americans are filthy rich). DH said no. Merchant offered 3 for $85, DH said he only wanted one and that was too steep a price to pay. Merchant went to $40, DH remarked on the price of better Cigars in US, although not Cuban... Merchant offered $25, DH took it for $18. Work with them. Lunch in the large hut was provided but not all that great, it was a little windy that day so everything was gritty with sand having blown into it. Everything was warm, including the salad. Chips and salsa were the best part. Margaritas are pre-mixed in those industrial sized orange igloo coolers, and they seemed weak, you'd have to drink a lot of them to do any damage. Stick with the beer, at least you know what you are getting in a bottled product. Or ask for a mixed drink where you can watch them pour it, but there are no guarantees that it's not watered down... tip the bartender at least once during your stay there. The restrooms are a separate building and they have showers there too. Restrooms are maintained and kept clean by a local, tip them too. Remember where you are, a $1 tip is about the equivalent of a $5 tip in the DC area. Nobody played volley ball while we were there but DH and I did volley back and forth for a bit. We kayaked and swam and took lots of fantastic photos in this location. Very peaceful and relaxing day.

Beach Break

In Grand Cayman we took a ferry from the Ship to Georgetown where we waited for our excursion group to assemble. From there we were all directed to the bus parking lot just a short walk away. We took a 20 minute ride to Tiki Beach and heard our tour guide talking about interesting facts about the Cayman Islands and Grand Cayman in particular. Aside from banks, the second largest business there is laundromats... Cayman humor. We passed by a gas station on the way to Tiki Beach and, realizing this was Cayman dollars, the price per gallon was 7.50/gallon!! We spent a lot of time walking a good length of beach to get to an area of water that wasn't quite so rocky. The water was perfect, we saw lots of colorful fish and they swim right up to you. The undertow was pretty strong and you could get pretty far out if you weren't paying attention. Beautiful area. We rented 2 beach lounges and never used them except to put our bag up off the sand. We went to the Tiki Beach Lunch pavilion and purchased our lunch, it was not included in this excursion. I had a mahi mahi burger with scotch bonnet remoulade, DH had a pulled pork sandwich. Best French fries in this place. I had a mango Margarita that was to die for and DH had another local beer from a very local Cayman brewery and he LOVED it. While we ate this wonderful lunch we noticed some jet skis in the water at a distance. DH went in that direction to inquire about the fee for using them. It was $75 for 30 minutes, two seater. It was getting close to the time when we would have to get back on the bus, but we had just enough time to go speeding around the water on that jet ski... That is the MOST FUN EVER! I wish we had seen that earlier because we probably would have done that for an hour! We just LOVED this excursion and hated to leave there. They even have a beach in Grand Cayman called cemetery beach, and there it is a cemetery right there just feet from the beach! We had a great time at this place!

Beach break with lunch at Maya Caye! OMG, this was the BEST place ever. HOT, HOT, HOT was how the excursion desk clerk described it to us. We booked this excursion while on the Legend and asked for recommendations based on our preferences. This Maya Caye was recommended to us and it was PERFECT. It is extremely tropical in May, very hot and humid. The power catamaran ride from Mahogany Bay to Maya Caye is about 20 minutes and a GORGEOUS ride looking out at all the lush greenery and hillsides of Roatan. We even passed by an old skeleton of a ship wreck. There is an exotic animal preserve on Maya Caye and some sea lions who do a show for you with their trainers that is really good. The island is kept pristinely clean by several workers who were constantly combing the beach and sand, raking up fallen leaves or what have you. The botanical gardens at this place were unbelievable. There was a replica Mayan ruin on the island and that was fun to explore. The swimming/snorkeling beach had a long pier that you could go to the end and snorkel off of it into the 7 foot waters, perfect. The swimming area of the beach was beautiful and the beach was lined with shady palm trees, tons of lounge chairs and a perfect respite from the heat and sun. One of the best features of this excursion was the pool and pool deck where our included lunch was served. They had lightly battered and fried Chilean sea bass, tropical black beans and rice, fried plantains, salad with homemade dressings that were to die for, and you could purchase drinks. The sea bas was the most delicious fish I had ever had, seriously EVER, and I eat a LOT of fish. Our eyes were rolling back in our heads, this was SO good. I had the best pina colada I've ever had, and DH stuck with his usual local beer and said it was fantastic. the pool is a HUGE round pool, beautifully maintained and clean, it has a round kiddie pool in a concentric circle on one end of the huge main pool so that the parents could be in the big pool and be right next to their kids in the kiddie pool, very cool set up. They even had a lifeguard... it was a HUGE Iguana that preferred to stay in the shade under the dining tables with umbrellas. They had an air conditioned gift shop on this island and I found a pool cover up for a very reasonable price. We LOVED this excursion, it was the epitome of the trip.
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