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Legend of the Seas - China, Japan, S. Korea Review

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Just returned two weeks ago from China and the Legend of the Seas. I thought I would post a review since there are so few of them on this particular itinerary.

 

Day One - Embarkation had its ups and downs. We arrived early (It took us 2 ½ hours from Beijing, and the ship now leaves from a new terminal in Tianjin). The terminal itself is really nice. Boarding was supposed to start at noon; we arrived at 10:00 a.m. and had to wait to check-in. While waiting, employees gave us all the forms we needed to have at check-in. Since they take your passports the day before arriving in Nagasaki, you will need to make a photocopy of them. If you haven’t done so already before arriving (we did), they have a copy machine available for you to do so.

 

Check in began about 10:30. We were among the first in line. Other than some confusion as to how to set up two cabins to one credit card, it was a breeze. We took a seat in the terminal and waited to board. We noticed employees carrying numbered signs approaching the line for boarding. We wondered if this was the order we would board; however we didn’t have a number. I asked a nice couple from England whom we were sitting next to us if they had a number. They had number 2. My fiance' went to the check-in desk and they gave him a number 2. As a crowd started to develop at the numbers, I noticed everyone had a sticker with their cabin number on the back of their passport. Mine did not. I approached a young American lady who appeared to be in charge of the check-in procedures and asked her if I was supposed to have one. She left and came back with the sticker and four priority boarding passes! She advised us to get closer to the front and that we should be able to get in first. What a joke. There was absolutely no organization to the boarding process. The employees holding the numbers lost control of their guests once boarding began. We had to push our way through crowds to get through and halfway, we heard someone yelling “Everyone stop”. Group #2 had decided to go in with the priority guests and so all the other groups decided to follow! Fortunately for us, we had made it to the escalators and our party was second in line to board. They had taken the #2 group and everyone else out of line until they were ready to let us board.

 

We finally got to go on board around 12:30. I loved priority boarding.. We were the only ones at the buffet for what seemed like a half an hour. The buffet selection was good and tasty – they had mostly American food with some Chinese noodle dishes. After spending three days in Beijing prior to the cruise, I was ready for some “comfort” American food.

 

After lunch, we strolled down to the cabins. We had an ocean view and my DD and DS had an interior room. This was the first time we had an ocean view (we always did balconies but couldn’t afford them this trip), and I was impressed. There was plenty of storage, however, it was difficult to fit the luggage under the bed, as the bed frames were low, but we found a way. I don’t recall having this problem on our previous cruise on Adventure of the Seas.

 

We took a tour of the ship with Jeffrey, one of the cruise director’s staff and explored the ship some more on our own until the muster drill at 4:45 p.m. No life jackets required. Yes!! We had originally been assigned a 8:00 p.m. dinner seating, but changed it to my time dining at 6:30 p.m. We had the option of coming anytime between 5:30 and 9:00 p.m. but we elected for a permanent time and table for 6:30 p.m. We couldn’t have been happier – our headwaiter, waiter and assistant waiter were the best and gave us outstanding customer service throughout the course of the cruise. In fact, our headwaiter invited us to have dinner with the chief engineer at the captain’s table our final night at sea! Needless to say, we tipped him very well at the end of the cruise. Didn’t see the show that night – it was called Los Pampos Gauchos. I believe it was a dance troupe from Argentina. I heard it wasn’t that good. To be continued...

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Day Two – At sea. Enjoyed breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet dining room (where we ate every morning!). Same selection as I remembered on the Adventure. They did offer a different egg dish every day, but nothing I found enticing enough to order. After breakfast we went to a Intro to Bingo class. Apparently the Chinese nor Korean guests knew how to play bingo, so they offered this class. It was interesting to hear them explain the procedure in four languages (English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese). After bingo we went to our first of many team trivia competitions in the Schooner Bar. The Schooner Bar is where you could always find the English-speaking guests. I want to estimate that there were about 200 of us – primarily from England, Australia and the United States. Trivia was always conducted in English and James, from the Cruise Director’s Staff, was a joy and made it very entertaining. I have to say that James would make a great cruise director one day and if that is his goal, I hope he makes it.

 

We ate lunch in the Romeo and Juliet dining room. They have a salad bar offering where you pick out the ingredients and the dining room staff makes up the salad. We had already ordered lunch from the menu when we went up to the bar. I wanted a small salad, but ended up with a large one and almost didn’t have enough room to eat the rest of the lunch! We then went to the champagne art auction in the Centrum. There we met up with my DD and DS. They had gone to a spa raffle earlier (we had signed up to win prizes the day before) and my DH won a massage. This was my first experience at an art auction. I’ve been on 5 other cruises and never attended one. I think it’s because this ship didn’t really offer very many activities, which is why we attended. Well, they had a raffle too, and my daughter won a bottle of champagne (we saved it and had it with dinner our last night on the cruise).

 

Dinner again was fantastic in the dining room. It was also formal night. The majority of guests were not dressed in formal attire. It was best described as elegant casual. I also noticed that photography locations were near to none (I think I saw 2). After dinner we went to the Invitation to Dance show in the theater. This is a new show on the ship and their debut performance. My DH got bored and fell asleep (he doesn’t like dancing). I’m a fan of Dancing with the Stars so I recognized many of the dances they performed and thought the dancers and the four lead singers were fantastic. More later…

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Day Three – Nagasaki – Disembarked around 10:30 a.m. Elected to do Nagasaki on our own, using local transportation. We walked about 15 minutes from the terminal and hopped on a trolley. We got off the trolley near the Atomic Bomb Museum. Just as we entered the museum, it started to rain, heavily. Unfortunately for us, the date was August 9th, the 65th anniversary of when the US dropped the atomic bomb on the city. They had just had a memorial service at the Peace Park an hour earlier and the museum offered free admission for the day. Needless to say, my family received many glares and not so friendly stares from what I’m assuming were many of the locals during our visit there. It was extremely uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait to leave. The museum itself was very enlightening and had it been any other day, we probably would’ve spent more time there. There is a lot to see. We then walked (in the now pouring rain!) to the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter and the Peace Park. Workers were still taking apart the ceremonial tents and chairs but we were still able to walk up to the statue there.

 

We were going to take the trolley again, but decided against it so we hired a taxi to take us to our next stop, the Kofukuji Temple. Our taxi driver had no idea where the temple was and had to ask for directions, twice. We found that odd as it was a tourist attraction. By the time we arrived at the temple, it had stopped raining. The temple was in a residential area and I found it interesting that it was surrounded by new construction. We then walked to the Spectacles Bridge. The area around the bridge and river is beautiful. I wished we had spent more time there. We discovered a shopping mall nearby and checked it out. Apparently it’s popular with tourists and tours, as we encountered at least 3 groups from our cruise ship there. After seeing the bridge we attempted to take the trolley to Glover Gardens. We gave up trying to figure out which trolley line to take and took another taxi.

 

Glover Gardens was beautiful. By this time, the sun came out and we had clear skies. There are two entrances to the gardens, which confused us somewhat, but they had given us a map (in English), which it made it easier for us to navigate. This is an attraction that should not be missed. It is within walking distance of the cruise ship and there are many shops along the pathway to the gardens to stop at along the way. We didn’t have time to shop and barely made it back to the ship in time.

 

Other than dining again at Romeo and Juliet’s I can’t recall doing anything else that evening. The show that evening was Jenifer Green singing “Strictly Bassey” which we didn’t attend so I can’t comment on it. Day four next..

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Day Four – Rough night. Apparently a tropical storm (Dianmu) had developed nearby which created large waves, enough to keep me and other passengers awake and queasy all night. This day we were in Kagoshima. Another beautiful sunny day. The original plan was to get a one-day pass for the trolley and hop on and off at various tourist attractions, however, it didn’t look like an easy walk to get to the trolley from where we docked, so we took a taxi. We had decided to take the ferry over to Sakurajima to see the volcano. I was surprised it took as long as it did (about half an hour) to get to the ferry since it didn’t look that far away from where the shipped docked on the map. Fortunately, ferries run every 15 minutes, so we hopped on one as soon as we arrived.

 

On Sakurajima, we walked to the Visitor Center about a ten-minute walk from the ferry terminal. There we walked the lava trail. I have to say that this particular spot reminded my daughter and I of the big island of Hawaii, minus the palm trees. I had read that there was a bus that took you to the Arimura Lava Observatory but had no idea where to catch it. The ladies working at the visitor center did not speak English, yet they knew what I was referring to and brought out a map and pointed to the spot. We had to walk back to the ferry terminal! So, we walked back and waited for the bus. These buses run every 45 minutes or so. We got on the bus not knowing if we were going to the right place, but half an hour later, we reached the observatory.

 

As we started walking the trail, smoke began to come out of the side of the volcano. It was erupting. I knew we weren’t in any danger and all you saw was smoke, not lava, but you could see some red glows in the vicinity. While waiting for the bus to depart, it erupted again and one last time as we waited for the ferry back to Kagoshima.

 

Our next stop was the Senganen Gardens. We tried to take the trolley there from the ferry terminal but couldn’t find where to catch it, so we hired another taxi. The gardens were disappointing. The highlight though was walking up a trail to view the waterfall. It was a pretty steep climb but the view from the top was worth it. The waterfall itself wasn’t that impressive, but you could see the entire city of Kagoshima and Sakurajima from the viewpoint. We underestimated the distance from the ship to the gardens and apparently traffic in Kagoshima is horrific in the afternoon, as when we asked an English speaking tour guide how long it would take to get back to the ship, she said 50 minutes. It was 3:30 and we had to be back on board by 4:30. We hastily hired a taxi and we did run into traffic but we got back in time with 10 minutes to spare. Our taxi driver seemed proud of himself for getting us back in time. Unfortunately, the ship wasn’t going anywhere. The tropical storm had approached the northern part of the island, and our next port of call, Fukuoka, had closed their harbor, meaning we would miss going there the next day, and instead would have to spend another day at sea. Needless to say, we were all disappointed.

 

Back on the ship, two more trivia games, dinner at Romeo and Juliet’s and Steve Ballard, performing as Elvis in the theater. I would not recommend seeing him if he’s booked again. He was awful. We then attended Quest, the supposedly adult only show (there were many children present) in the Viking Lounge. DS participated with a group of English speaking honeymooners we befriended. It was hilarious. Day Five coming up…

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Day Five – Day at Sea. More bingo, another art auction and two more rounds of trivia. Still couldn’t win. We always finished in third place! Dinner again at Romeo and Juliets and the show, Direct from Moscow, the Juggling, Balance and Acrobatics of Duo Ignatove, featuring the Artistry of Florescence. They were very talented and by far, the best entertainment the ship had offered.

 

Day Six – Another sunny day! Had to get up early to meet our ship’s excursion of Busan at 7:15 a.m. I loved Busan. It is a huge, vibrant city with a lot to see and do. We went to the Haedong Yunggungsa Temple (beautiful temple located on cliffs overlooking the sea) and then to the Nurimaru Apec House. The Apec House is located in a beautiful park which affords nice views of the city. It is a popular place for joggers and there were plenty around. After our visit to Apec, we went to the Busan International Market. Lots of bargains and deals to be made here. We wished we had spent more time there. We then went to the Jagalchi Seafood Market across the street. It was funny that we had to take a bus to drive down the street, turn around and be dropped off across the street from where we got on it at. In the process, our bus driver couldn’t finish his U-turn and backed into another car. We felt the bump, but no injuries to anyone on board. Crazy! For some reason, we had to be back on the ship at 3:30 p.m., not 4:30 p.m, as the original itinerary had indicated. It was too short of a day. I really wished we had been there longer. We also learned in this port that new passengers had boarded the ship. Apparently Koreans embark in Busan, and then disembark in Busan, unlike the rest of us in Tianjin. Made sense. Formal night again. Had a special dinner of Filet Mignon with the Chief Engineer. Got to sit right next to him and enjoyed his company very much. He invited us for a private tour of the ship’s control room the following afternoon. Since we had a late dinner we did not go to see the show, a concert pianist by the name of Tomono Kawamura.

 

Day Seven – At Sea. More bingo, trivia and a tour of the control room. At least it was a sunny day so most of the guests got to enjoy it by the pool. I found it interesting that all the English-speaking tourists were at the outdoor pool and the Chinese/Korean guests were at the indoor solarium pool and wearing bathing caps. Dinner at the dining room again, where we said our goodbyes to our fabulous wait staff. I didn’t keep my Cruise Compass for this day so I can’t recall the name of the show that night but it featured the ship’s singers and dancers again. And it was great! Best show of the week.

 

Day Eight – Debarkation

A breeze. We were given colored luggage tags the night before to place on our luggage. Each color corresponded to a different meeting time and place on the ship. Fortunately for us, our debarkation time was 9:15 but they let us off early at 9:00. We easily found our luggage and breezed straight through customs. We decided to fly home from Tianjin instead of Beijing and our flight didn’t leave until 7 p.m. so I had previously arranged for a private tour of Tianjin. I absolutely loved Tianjin and would definitely consider staying there should we ever cruise out of Tianjin again.

 

In conclusion, our experience on the Legend was fantastic. I've cruised four other times on a number of other cruise lines and I have to say that the service on this ship was the best we've ever experienced. The food was more "gourmet" than on previous ships - some interesting choices, but a nice variety and it was pleasantly good and their desserts were delicious. I have only two complaints - not enough activities and mediocre entertainment. We are not gamblers so I cannot comment on the casino (although it seemed larger than some other ships we've been on) and we didn't use the pools. Overall, it surpassed our expectations and highly recommend it.

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Thanks for taking the time to post this review-they are a bit sparse on this itinerary!

 

Can I ask a few questions - do you still happen to have the port address for Tianjin still for the new terminal; and do you know what % of guests were non Asians on board?

Did they offer many Asian dishes on board- it would be a shame to be in Asia and not have the delicious food or was it 'Panda Express' type of Asian?!!;)

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Unfortunately I do not have the port address as I never had it to begin with. Our tour driver had it. The terminal is about an hour or so away from downtown Tianjin in a newly developed port area. I know they are proposing to build a major hotel and residential development there as well. As I previously posted, I'd estimate there were about 200 English speaking guests on our cruise, so I'd say that would equate to about 5% of the passengers being non-Asian (not including the crew). Most of the crew were Chinese, Korean and Indian, and all spoke English. As far as the food, they did offer some, but not a lot of Asian food. I noticed there was more of a selection at the buffet, not so much in the dining room, and it was mostly noodles or rice dishes. Can't comment on if it was delicious or not as I didn't try any of it.

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No, it was the actual control room which the chief engineer and his staff monitor. It was interesting to see how the air conditioning and heating systems are monitored. I know the other two families that attended the tour (as well as the dinner with the chief engineer the night before) were staying in suites and they mentioned they got to tour the bridge right before the control room tour.

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Thanks for taking the time to post this review-they are a bit sparse on this itinerary!

 

Can I ask a few questions - do you still happen to have the port address for Tianjin still for the new terminal; and do you know what % of guests were non Asians on board?

Did they offer many Asian dishes on board- it would be a shame to be in Asia and not have the delicious food or was it 'Panda Express' type of Asian?!!;)

 

Hello Albert - if you are sailing on this date, have you registered for the Meet & Mingle with the cruiseline yet? We know of only 18 that have done so at this stage.

 

You may find us on this link where you'll also find the address of the port both in English and in Chinese!

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1158560&page=8

 

Best wishes - Gae

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Thanks for the review. We are considering booking Legends and I appreciate the information.

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