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ericrz

10 people, 10X the fun: Carnival Legend review, 3/14-21

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Wow! What a great time we had onboard the Carnival Legend. A cruise that's been in the planning stages for eight months, I can't believe it's over already!! :(

 

Came back to a rainy and cool Birmingham, Alabama, which kind of stunk. But post-vacation Mondays are always the worst, I suppose, regardless of weather.

 

Will break this up into sections, and include photos where I can (i.e., when I remember to!)

 

To answer the most important question first: All four of my Rum Runners got through without any problems. Two in the checked luggage, and two small ones in the cargo pockets of my shorts.

 

My mom went the less secretive route, and put Captain Morgan and Crown Royal (both dark liquors!) in plastic water bottles, sticking them in her suitcase. They made it through as well.

 

 

WHO'S WHO?

We were traveling in a group of 10 people:

 

Me (Eric), my wife Raya, and our daughter Sophie, who turned 4 on the cruise

My in-laws, Alan and Lee

My parents, Marge and Frank

My brothers, Kevin and Patrick, along with Patrick's girlfriend, Kelly

 

We were divided among 4 cabins; three extended balcony (8J) and a single interior, all on Deck 7.

 

 

PRE-CRUISE

Five of us (Raya, Sophie, my in-laws, and I) live in Alabama, so we flew down to Tampa the night before the cruise, and took a shuttle to my dad's place in St. Pete, where we spent the night. The others all live in Florida, and rendezvoused with us at his house.

 

At 10:00 the next morning, our "party bus" was there to take us to the port!

 

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Raya and Sophie on the party bus.

 

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I highly recommend His & Hers Limos of Tampa if you need shuttle service. We used them from TPA to St. Pete on Saturday night, from St. Pete to the port on Sunday morning, and then the others in our party used them to go from the port back to St. Pete after debarkation. Highly recommended.

 

EMBARKATION

 

We got to the Port of Tampa around 10:45 AM or so. The LEGEND was already parked there of course, majestic and beautiful in the sunlight.

 

Getting all 23 of our bags off the bus and to the porters was a bit of a challenge. But my brothers and I manhandled the bags off the bus, and soon enough we were inside for checkin.

 

Hardly any lines at that point, and we quickly checked in and were assigned Zone 7 for embarkation.

 

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We waited about 20-30 minutes before they started calling zones. Once they did, things moved quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to get on the ship! We got our pictures taken at the Sign & Sail machines, and walked across the gangway onto the LEGEND....

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DAY 0: Departure

 

The rooms weren't ready yet, of course, so our first stop was the Lido deck for lunch. We commandeered a couple of big tables for our group and dropped off our luggage, taking shifts at the buffet line. The ship wasn't too crowded yet, so we didn't have to fight the crowds too much.

 

My first stop was the bar, where I grabbed a bucket of beer for the table!

 

After lunch, we took Sophie down to Camp Carnival to get her registered and to check out the room. We weren't quite sure how much she'd use it, but we wanted to give her the opportunity to become accustomed to it. The staffer on duty for the "sneak peek" was Brian, a nice young man from South Africa who was very friendly and great with kids. We got our assigned Camp Carnival cell phone, which was great to have all week, for calling to/from CC and for the rest of our party to call us from their rooms.

 

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It was about 1:30 when we finished at CC, so we headed up to deck 7 to see our room!

 

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Room 7168 was our home for the week, and we loved it. Great extended balcony, which we then combined with the two balconies next to us (my mom, my father-in-law and I visited the purser's desk to request this during lunch. We were the first rooms to ask for this apparently, as we were first on the list.)

 

They opened the balconies the next day (the first day at sea).

 

After unpacking our luggage (a tight fit, but everything got put away, including Sophie's car seat which BARELY fit in the closet), we headed up to the pool deck. After Sophie took a quick nap:

 

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It was time for departure. It was a bit windy but warm, and we watched the ship pull out of Tampa Bay.

 

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We had early seating, and so a short time later it was time to get cleaned up and head for dinner. We found our tables easily, 242/244, near the back of the Truffles dining room. Just one table over from the windows, which faced aft.

 

A long rectangular table, which made it hard for people at one end to chat with people at the other end, but what can you do? Carnival's options for groups of 10 are somewhat limited.

 

Anyway, our waiter (Pankaj) and assistant waiter (Dejan) came over and introduced themselves, making sure they got all of our names and paying special attention to Sophie. After she ordered a chocolate milk on the first night, Dejan had it waiting for her every subsequent night!!

 

I think I had the flat-iron steak that first night. All the food was excellent!!!

 

We were able to see the Sunshine Skyway as we passed underneath.

 

After dinner, we split from the rest of our party and Raya and I took Sophie to the Medusa's Lair Disco for the Camp Carnival opening night party.

 

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Soph was a bit overwhelmed -- it was mostly "big kids," and she looked a little lost when they separated the kids and parents for a "dance off." A nice young CC counselor named Lindsey took Sophie by the hand and danced with her, which Sophie loved!

 

After the dance party, we chatted a bit with some of our family members who were in the Atlantis Lounge, just outside Medusa's and Truffles. But Sophie was quickly crashing, so we headed to the room and called it a night.

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Day 1: At Sea

 

Raya saw the sunrise this day, Sophie and I each slept in a bit.

 

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We then headed up to Lido to meet our people for breakfast and spend a day relaxing by the pool.

 

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Sophie went to Camp Carnival for an hour or so in the afternoon, and made a colorful t-shirt.

 

That night, we had our first elegant dinner.

 

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Sophie went to the Camp Carnival "pajama party" that night, and we spent some time with my family hanging out in Billie's Piano Bar. This became a favorite hangout spot for us during the week. The entertainer, Millburn, was fabulous and quickly got to know us by name.

 

I still have "You don't have to call me darlin' -- DARLIN'" stuck in my head.

 

We went to the late Follies Lounge show that night with my brother Kevin and a couple of new friends. The show that night was "Hot Jazz," and it was pretty entertaining.

 

We picked up Sophie from Camp Carnival around 11:30 ($9 in babysitting charges) and headed off to bed.

 

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Day 2: Grand Cayman

 

Kevin, my father-in-law Alan, and I had a shore excursion booked this morning, the Carnival "Shipwreck and Reef Snorkel" tour. After a quick breakfast, the entire group boarded a tender for the quick ride to GC.

 

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The others dispersed out into town and we waited for our tour group. Raya, her mom, and Sophie shopped and browsed the port area, while the other 5 in our group took a van tour of the island, a promised 90-minute tour that turned into 2.5 hours because the driver kept picking up more people. Oops.

 

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The snorkel tour was a lot of fun. The captain was entertaining and informative, telling us about the history of GC. We made two snorkel stops, one above a coral reef (saw some beautiful fish) and one above the wreck of the "Cali," a four-masted schooner that partially sunk in a storm, and was then blown up by the British Navy in the 1960s.

 

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We met up with Raya, her mom, and Sophie at Margaritaville for lunch, a few drinks, and some fun times in the pool. I could have stayed there for several more hours (the pool has a swim-up bar!) but we had to get back on the ship.

 

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That night at dinner, we celebrated my brother Patrick's birthday.

 

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I was starting to feel a little rough (cough/cold), so I offered to take Sophie back to the room after dinner (she'd skipped her nap this day) and she and I called it an early night.

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Day 3: Cozumel, and Sophie's birthday!!!

 

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After a quick breakfast, and time for Sophie to open a multitude of presents, we walked off the ship into Cozumel. It was rainy and cool that day, unfortunately, with grey skies that didn't look like they'd improve any time soon.

 

Five of us (Raya, Sophie, my in-laws, and I) had booked a third-party excursion (through Island Marketing) for a trip to the Discover Mexico museum and then the Chankanaab national park. We'd hoped to do some swimming and snorkeling at Chankanaab, but the weather made that unlikely.

 

After a little confusion about which taxi to take, we took the short ride to Discover Mexico. Our very friendly guide (Fernanda) walked us through the interior of the museum, which has handicrafts and artwork on display.

 

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We then headed outside, to the main attraction of the museum -- 1/25th scale replicas of buildings from throughout Mexico's history.

 

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The rain started falling again about halfway through our outside tour, but Fernanda found us some umbrellas and we continued. The weather wasn't too bad. And the drink we each got as part of the tour (Corona for me, margaritas and pina coladas for the other adults, Fanta orange soda for Sophie) helped us cope as well. I love museums in other countries, where not only can you drink alcohol on premises, you can do so at 10 in the morning. That never happens in the States!

 

Once we finished at Discover Mexico, we tried to decide if we should even bother going to Chankanaab. We decided to, just to see it. A van taxi (with no seat belts) took us over there. We walked the grounds a bit, it was very beautiful. But the swimming areas were closed, and so we didn't stay long.

 

We grabbed another taxi back to the port, and walked around a bit, before re-boarding the ship.

 

Since it was St. Patrick's Day in addition to Sophie's birthday, we all wore our green finery to dinner that night! And Sophie got to blow out candles on her very own birthday cake!

 

Maybe we spent a little more time in Bille's that night after dinner? Can't really remember....

Edited by ericrz

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Day 4: Belize, but a ship day for Sophie and I

 

Raya and her folks booked a third party tour (again, through Island Marketing) for a trip to the Altun Ha ruins in Belize. We didn't think such a long car ride was a great idea for Sophie, and neither was all the walking and climbing at Altun Ha. So she and I stayed on the ship that day.

 

From all accounts, Raya and her folks had a great time at Altun Ha, and highly recommend it. Great stuff to see.

 

They left early for breakfast, Sophie and I slept in a bit, and then met my parents by the pool. A random lady by the pool deck gave Sophie a "ship on a stick" for no apparent reason:

 

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Sophie went to Camp Carnival for a bit in the afternoon, and I basically drank and lazed by the pool all day. It was marvelous.

 

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Day 5: Roatan

 

Our last port of call for this cruise. We were up early for breakfast, and when we could see people disembarking, we hustled down to the gangway and headed for Mahogany Beach.

 

We rode the ski-lift ("magical flying chairs") for free, as there was no one in the booth selling wristbands when we walked up. I later heard from others in our party that the attendant had to go get more wristbands.

 

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This meant we couldn't ride back, as there's no one selling bands at the other end. But that was OK.

 

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What a gorgeous beach. I know it's artificial, and I know it's not the "real Roatan." Frankly, I don't care. The beach was beautiful, smooth, soft white sand. The water, crystal clear and warm. Live music playing, a bar with waiter service, local beers at better-than-Carnival prices, I loved this place. A playground for Sophie, clean bathrooms, comfy chairs and plenty of them.

 

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My only complaint? We didn't stay long enough

 

We had to be back on the ship by 2:15 PM, which meant packing up around 1:30, as Sophie doesn't walk that fast and we didn't want to be the last ones on! But I could have stayed here much, much longer.

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More from the Roatan day....

 

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This was also our second "elegant" night, though Sophie chose not to wear a dress. We didn't argue the point. But since everyone (else) was dressed up, we took a group photo that night as well.

 

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Day 6: At Sea

 

Ah, the last full day of the cruise; that melancholy starts setting in, everyone knows it's almost over. We all relaxed by the pool this day; it was alternately cloudy and sunny, with some wind as well. But we made the best of it.

 

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We also did "On Deck for the Cure" this afternoon, in honor of my mother-in-law who is a breast cancer survivor. About 100 people participated, I'd say.

 

Our last dinner of the cruise, and of course the waiters went all out with the singing and dancing!

 

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After dinner, we hung out in the Lobby Bar for a bit, then took Sophie into Billie's for the first time. Millburn played "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for her, which was great. On his break, he came over and chatted with us for a bit; was interesting to hear about life on a cruise ship!!

 

Oh, and my mom and I each both purchased a Future Cruise Certificate that night, as everyone was talking about "next time we cruise." :D

 

Back to the room, to see one final towel creation before bedtime!

 

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Day 7: Debarkation

 

Up early for breakfast, then we waited for our zone (8) to be called. Didn't take too long to get off the ship, and we quickly claimed our luggage and were through the customs checkpoint in a breeze.

 

Using a porter for all of our luggage allowed us to use the "Porter's Lane," which seemed to move a lot quicker. Well worth the price of a tip.

 

At Tampa's port, you have to cross the street to the parking garage to be picked up, yet another reason to use a porter! He led us across the street to the bottom level of the parking deck. We said goodbye to the others in our party; and then Raya, Sophie and I met some friends who live in Tampa for some fun at the Florida Aquarium and lunch in Channelside, before flying home that afternoon.

 

Final thoughts:

 

Whew! What a fun trip! My mom and I did most of the planning for this cruise, and it can be hard to get 10 people to agree on anything! But I think all 10 would agree we had a great time!!

 

Weeeeeeeee Jimmy was a great cruise director, funny and informative. He was the water boy for "On Deck for the Cure," and made a great production out of trying to fill the water cups faster, yelling at us to slow down, etc.

 

He also gets extra points for fawning over Sophie one night in the elevator lobby. "Look at her -- she's lovely, isn't she?" :D

 

Tampa is a great port, and both embarkation and debarkation were easy. It's a little annoying getting to/from the port, as the surrounding streets are under construction, but that should be finished soon.

 

This was the first of our four cruises where we had a balcony stateroom. It will be hard to go back. Especially traveling with a little one, it was nice for Raya and I to have a place to go while Sophie slept.

 

Camp Carnival staff were great. I would have liked for Sophie to use CC a bit more, especially in the evenings. But she was having fun with us and wanted to stay with the group, and so we didn't push it.

 

This forum gave great suggestions, such as bungee cords, duct tape, and the over-the-door pocketed holder for all the "little stuff." Great idea, and kept the room from looking like a total disaster area.

 

Staff were great, always smiling, and especially great with Sophie.

 

So happy that we made all four of our ports, as Raya is more of a "port person" than an "at sea person."

 

Spent just a little time in the casino, money goes much quicker on slots and video poker at sea than it does in Vegas. Payouts are definitely tighter.

Can't wait for the next one!!!!

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What a nice review. I love the legend! I've enjoyed every port of call and look forward to our cruise in November.

 

You have a beautiful family. Happy Birthday to all! It looked as though you had a wonderful cruise. thank you for sharing your "family" time with us.

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Nice review. Since no one else mentioned it I guess I'm the only that couldn't see the pictures. Is there a link to see them?

 

Thanks!

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Thanks to all for your comments, compliments, and birthday wishes.....to answer some specific questions:

 

Nice review. We leave on the Legend 4/19. Can I ask...why duct tape?

 

LOL Deb. It's just one of those things that comes in handy. We actually never used it this trip, but joked about taking it up to the pool deck to fix a couple of broken chairs. :D

 

Sweet review, who was your waiter?

 

We had Pankaj as the main waiter, with Dejan as the assistant waiter. They were both great!

 

Very nice review! I must say though you look an awful lot like Ray Romano. :D

 

Too funny. Never heard that one before!

 

Nice review. Since no one else mentioned it I guess I'm the only that couldn't see the pictures. Is there a link to see them?

 

Phinfan, Cruise Critic was having some issues with the display of pictures/icons earlier today. According to the note from Laura on the front page, the issues are fixed now. Refresh and hopefully you'll get the images!

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.....we went to a juggling show on the ship one night....maybe the Cozumel or Belize night? Can't remember for sure. It was listed in the Fun Times as the "physical comedy" of so-and-so, and we weren't sure what it would be.

 

But it wasn't marked as "R-rated," so we took Sophie. She loved it, as did we. This guy was amazing -- juggled tennis rackets, machetes, bowling balls, and did some fun audience participation stuff too. Great fun.

 

I'm sure I'll add more to this thread as I remember other things.

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Thanks for the review. We'll be on the Legend in a few weeks also with 10 people. And Go Gators! Saw your wife wearing her Gator gear at the pool in your pics. :)

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Thanks for the review. We'll be on the Legend in a few weeks also with 10 people. And Go Gators! Saw your wife wearing her Gator gear at the pool in your pics. :)

 

Hell yeah go Gators! Raya and I met at UF in 1991, in the Tolbert Area dorms. :)

 

Her dad is also a UF grad. We're hoping Sophie makes it a three-generation tradition.

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thanks for posting. i enjoyed your review, awesome photos. Great to hear you had an enjoyable cruise.

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Hell yeah go Gators! Raya and I met at UF in 1991, in the Tolbert Area dorms. :)

 

Her dad is also a UF grad. We're hoping Sophie makes it a three-generation tradition.

 

Me, my wife, my sister & my step-father also graduated from UF. Me in 1994. My wife a couple years later.

We've already told our daughters we won't be paying for their college unless they go to UF also. ;)

 

I'm also a volunteer high school coach down here in SW FL. Had the chance to go to the Vandy & FSU (Senior Day) games with a player of mine UF is recruiting. Was on the field with the players and coaches for both and in locker room after each game. Actually met Percy Harvin and got a pic with him outside the Gator locker room at the Vandy game. Shook hands with Tebow twice @ FSU game & met almost all the coaches between the visits. It was awesome @ FSU game with 90,000 screaming. I was also at the tunnel exit when the Gators came running out. One of the coolest experiences I've ever been able to have. Hoping to go back again this year with the same kid now is a senior now.

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Edited by gatorphin

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What a beautiful family you have. Thank-you for sharing the pics and all of the great info. Nice review. Can't wait to sail the Legend in Oct.

One quick question; Was Mahogany Bay in Roatan an excursion or just at beach where you can walk up and pay at that time to use their facilities? The pics are just beautiful. Thanks.

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