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Aug. 15th Legend Family Cruise...with Photos


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Background: This is our 5th cruise. Two of the cruises we have done alone as a couple, another was done with our long time friends, and one more included our three sons. The “kids” have been hinting (no…actually begging) for us to take them again and this was to be the year. Besides us and the 3 boys (all in their 20’s) the cruising roster included my sister (50 something), DS2’s wife and DS3’s girlfriend. The week of August 15th was decided on long ago because DS2 is attending chiropractic school and that was the only week of summer that he would be on break. DIL and I are both teachers so we must cruise in the summer.


All 4 of our previous cruises have been to the western Caribbean...and because DH and DS1 both are divers we decided to keep up the tradition (lots of good diving spots on the western routes!) I had it narrowed down to the Legend and the Valor...both with identical ports. The Legend won out because I wanted to do a cruise on a Spirit class ship...something we had not yet done.


About the time I booked the cruise DS3 got engaged so of course we have to include the fiancé. When we discussed the cruise dates they assured us that they wanted a fall wedding so not to worry about dates. Well…little did I know that Labor Day weekend was considered “fall” in their minds! That meant the wedding would be less than 2 weeks after we returned!


Next glitch…schools in Minnesota ALWAYS start after Labor Day…it is the law. Well this year a bunch of schools in SW Minnesota got together and decided they would petition the state department of education to see of they could start early. My school was one involved so after I had the cruise and airfare all booked the school calendar changed. Now school (or at least teacher workshops) was starting the week of the cruise. YIKES!!


I put on my pity face and presented my dilemma to my principal. His response? No problem…just go on the cruise and don’t worry about missing the first week of school. All was well until that principal left to take another job right at the end of the summer! The new principal was not hired until 3 days before we left for the cruise! I was not able to contact him by phone so I just sent an email telling him I was off to the Caribbean…and hoped that I had a job when I returned!


Also DS3 and fiancé both just started new jobs but were lucky enough to get the time off to go on the cruise…AND another honeymoon 2 weeks later. They should have just listened to me and gotten married on the ship. For some reason they didn’t want a honeymoon with the parents along…go figure! ;)

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The Journey Begins…


I envy folks who live close to the ports. For us we must endure the time and cost of the flights to Florida. Our closest airport is in Sioux Falls…but no chance of finding any good or cheap flights there. Instead we load up the car and drive 3 ½ hours to Minneapolis. DS1, DS2 and DIL all live in “the Cities” so at least they don’t have far to go. After checking airport parking costs I decided it would be easier and just about as cheap to spend the night in a hotel that has a park and fly package.


After traveling through pouring rain we arrive at the Hampton Inn (in Eagen). A rainbow greets us…surely this must be a good sign at the start of our vacation!






The evening is spent at the Mall of America and then the hotel pool before bed. Here is DH watching the ferris wheel in the amusement park at the mall:




DS1 snorkeling in the hot tub. (Little boys never grow up!)



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A quick trip on the Hampton Inn shuttle the next morning and we are waiting at MSP for our flights.




Unfortunately Delta has switched our flight to a much smaller plane and is trying to bump 20 of the passengers. :eek: DS1 argues that we should all give up our seats to get the $400 vouchers but I refuse. No way am I going to spend my first day of vacation sitting in an airport HOPING that we get out that day and HOPING that we make it to the ship on time…no thanks.


DIL passes the time by “fish tailing” GF (girlfriend/fiance)’s hair. Not sure how she did this…but it was cool!






After carefully choosing our seats together online months ago we are all scattered throughout the plane when we are issued new boarding passes. :mad:

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Our Tampa plans are to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Rocky Point…primarily because they offer a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the ship, and after the cruise from the ship to the airport. My sister from St. Louis was joining us on the cruise and her flight arrived at almost the same time as ours. A quick call to the HI Express and the shuttle is there in 10 minutes!


Our tummies are rumbling so we do a quick check in and head next door to the Bahama Breeze restaurant. (The ONLY restaurant within walking distance.) At 2 o’clock in the afternoon the place is pretty deserted. Later that evening there was live music and it was really hopping!




I was having trouble trying to get my reading glasses on with my sunglasses perched on my head. The kids were in "make fun of Mom mode" and started piling on everyone else's sunglasses as well. No problem...I was still able to fill out the credit card thingy and pay the bill.




Being frugal (ie cheap) I had booked 2 rooms for the 8 of us. My sister, DH and I shared a regular room and the 5 “kids” were booked in a suite. It wasn’t a true suite in that it was just a single room…but it did have a fold out couch and a small kitchenette area. The suite was only $10 more and was definitely worth it for the extra space. From the time I made the reservation the price dropped twice (I caught this by looking at the hotel web page online) and each time they honored the new price. We ended up paying $84 for the regular room and $94 for the suite (before taxes.) Knowing how much we would have spent for taxis for 8 people I think this was an excellent deal! Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the rooms.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent “playing” in the hotel pool.




While we were swimming the fire alarm in the hotel started going off. A firetruck arrived with a lot of good looking firemen who spent over an hour running in and out of the hotel.




From what we could gather, a pipe leading to the emergency sprinklers had burst and water was pouring out of a storage room at the back of the hotel. There was also some strange smell in the lobby…so not sure what that was about. We just continued to have fun in the pool and by the time we were done all was back to normal.


The hotel shuttle is also available for free for trips within 4 miles of the hotel. The kids made a trip to a nearby mall, but the 3 old folks ordered pizza and relaxed.


This last photo looks weird I know. With DS2 in chiropractic school we always try and get some sort of “free treatments” when we are together. It looks like he is trying to poke out DS1’s eye with a pen…but I think he was trying to teach DH a method to ease headaches…and he in turn was practicing on son’s GF.



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Looking forward to more of your review :D I like the ones where I can kind of get to know the cruisers along the way.


BTW, the fishtail braid is awesome looking and EXTREMELY easy.. it just takes awhile to do, especially if your hair is long.

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Sunday, August 15th -- Cruise Day!


It was a bit crowded in the hotel lobby the next morning but the free breakfast was appreciated. While shopping the night before the kids had bought a couple of cases of Diet Coke, some wine & champagne and some “other stuff”. The legal things (wine, Coke, etc.) were put into the carry-on bags, but DS1 was trying to figure out a way to get the “other stuff” on the ship. He had brought along his backpack as a carry-on bag and ended up pouring the “other stuff” into the bladder of the backpack. He made it through security with it but I never did find out how he got it back out! (I had visions of him wearing the backpack around the ship sucking on a tube.) DS2 did have a bottle of wine removed from his checked luggage because it exceeded the size limit (which is why he tried to hide it in the checked luggage.) I had my chance to say “I told you so”…but he knew it was a risk and thought it was funny that they found it. He got it back the last night of the cruise.


The first shuttle to the port was at 11 am…there was a sign up sheet and since we had checked in so early the previous day we were able to pick the early time. The shuttle was a different one than we had been on the day before…judging from the logos on the side it must be shared by the HI Express and the Hampton Inn. As we got close to the terminal, the driver showed us a parking garage across the street and said that was where he would meet us at the end of the cruise.


There were porters waiting for our luggage and zip, zip, zip…we had handed over all of the bags and headed into the terminal. DIL and GF had never cruised before so they were anxious to get a good look at the ship.





After filling out a health questionnaire we were immediately in the line to check in. All of the computers were down but in spite of this I thought the lines moved pretty quickly. We slowed things down a bit because we were using several different credit cards for the Sail & Sign bills. Our group was given a card with “Zone 6”. Groups were already boarding when we sat down and we followed them within about 10 minutes.


A quick stop to get our photos taken for the S & S card and we were on the ship. (We skipped the photographer who wanted to do a group shot.) Knowing we couldn’t get into our cabins we went directly to the buffet on the Lido deck…along with hundreds of other passengers. This first afternoon was really the only time that the ship felt crowded…too many people trying to occupy the same spaces until the cabins were ready.


<Side note totally unrelated to cruising>…DS1 had luggage issues. He has nice luggage at home, but was worried it was too big and he would over pack and go over the 50 lb weight limit set by Delta. Instead he brought a smaller bag...one of the first suitcases ever to be fitted with wheels…except the bag rolled horizontally instead of vertically. At least that was how it was intended. Most of the time the bag was flopped over and he was dragging it on its side. And that wasn’t the worst part…his carry-on bag was a bit newer and looked fine…but I swear it had square wheels.


The first couple of hours on the ship we were stuck schlepping around our carry-ons until we could get in the cabins. Clackity, clackity, clackity…that’s what DS1’s carry-on sounded like as he pulled it through the ship. To me it had the same sound as using a clothespin to clip baseball cards onto the spokes of a bicycle (ever do that as a kid?) ANNOYING!


Wandering around through the buffet area (with the clacking suitcase) we eventually found two 4-top tables next to each other. We took turns watching the stuff and getting our food. DH was tickled to death that the Legend had an Asian station at the buffet. He loved the Mongolian BBQ on the Freedom and this was almost as good…and it didn’t take forever to get through the line.


For the rest of us the number of choices was a bit overwhelming! For those of you not familiar with the Legend…in addition to the Asian station, the Lido buffet area has a grill (hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, etc.); a deli with freshly made hot & cold sandwiches; a salad bar; a dessert area; a “taste of nations” that changes daily; and the regular buffet. Oh…and don’t forget the 24-hour ice cream & frozen yogurt machines and pizzeria!


I actually circled the Unicorn Cafe a couple of times taking inventory of what was available before I finally decided what I wanted to put on my plate! I can’t begin to tell you what we all ate…but I did get one photo of what was included in DS3’s lunch!




After the 2 days of hub-bub and traveling I sat down to eat that lunch and finally felt it…I was on vacation!

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The cabins weren’t ready until 1:30 so we wandered about the ship until then. I normally take a lot of ship photos but traveling with the family I found myself doing mostly “people pictures”. Here are just a few I did get of the inside of the ship…




We never made it to the steak house, but I liked the way the colored windows gave it a pink glow. (The steak house is "under" the funnel.) I was a little freaked out by the glass staircase leading up to the restaurant however!!












The boys cruised with us on the Victory in 2005 and one of their best memories was having a table in the dining room by a huge window in the back of the ship. They were really, really hoping we would get another window table this time. On our “tour” of the ship we stopped by the Truffles Dining room and a gal was standing outside with a “blueprint” of the dining room. She checked our table…number 366…and “yippee!” it was in the back by a window. Unfortunately the table was on the upper level…but having a window was more important.

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