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summercruisin'

Here ya go.....another Legend review, another perspective

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We just got off the Legend yesterday, and I'm ready to begin a lengthy and detailed review :D. I took over 1300 photos (who does that????? :rolleyes:). I'll share a bunch, but I won't torture you with all of them! I do plan to negate some of the complaints I've seen lately :D

If you want the short version, see the bulleted recap below. If you want to savor every moment with me, I'd advise skipping the spoiler and going straight on to post two...

 

 

the short version

  • embarkation was easy. Capital Parking was convenient and inexpensive.
  • ship is easy to navigate, very red, full of urns, ideal size to handle the flow of people (imho). We spent very little time waiting in lines. The ship does stink after day 6. All over.
  • we did not miss the giant tv; we did miss the live music.
  • we really enjoyed the cooking demonstration as well as the wine pairing. These will be can't-miss activities from now on.
  • dinner was fabulous. No cold meals ever. Always fantastic service (except bar service was a little slow).
  • Chef's table was beyond fabulous (even with the "new" menu), and the chef met us in the dining room several times during the week to do whatever we asked (special deserts two nights, particular fruit for the kids, and he even paged the magician for DS's birthday)
  • deli and buffets were very good.
  • the gold/platinum/diamond party was actually really nice. The one free drink each during lunch was enjoyed.
  • shows were just okay. same goes for the cruise director.
  • we loved what we planned for port days (every single day). No complaints about any of the ports (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Grand Cayman)
  • debarkation was a little tough but not unbearable.
  • any questions? ask or scroll through the longer review...

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Okay....here we go!

 

First, the players :)

 

I'm the mom, and I am 41derful. DH is a little older (not much). We are high school sweethearts and live in eastern NC. I am a high school English teacher, and I love to cook (every night). DH is a stressed-out, overworked retail manager. This was cruise #9 for me; #8 for DH.

 

Our DS and DD travelled with us (as they usually do).

 

DS turned 11 on the cruise and has Aspergers as well as many of the challenges that accompany that (anxiety, depression, sensory integration issues, adhd, etc). This was his 4th cruise.

 

DD is 5 and is a firecracker. She is allergic to peanuts and delightfully oh-so-quick to smile. This was her 3rd cruise.

 

Before our cruise, we drove to Orlando a few days early to relax and do a few free Disney things :rolleyes:. We also went to Medieval Times. As we always do when we go to the Orlando area, we rented a house with a private pool, and that was really nice.

Edited by summercruisin'

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On Sunday morning, we got up and got going pretty early. After a few stops for breakfast and last minute supplies, we made the easy drive from Orlando to Tampa. We passed this about halfway there...

 

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and thanked God we weren't on THAT tour! We arrived in Tampa around 11.

 

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and soon got a close-up look at the Legend (our first time sailing on her).

 

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We used Capital Parking in Tampa instead of parking at the port. We felt like it was a good decision...about $4 a day instead of $15, plus we used a coupon code to get one day free. The fenced-in lot was a little tough to find, but it was in a nice neighborhood and close to the ship. The shuttle driver was there waiting for us, and he loaded us up quickly. It took maybe 5 minutes at the most for him to get us in line for security and check in. I took pictures of the lot, but I haven't put them on photobucket yet. I'll add them after uploading (PB isn't working for me right this minute!)

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Looking forward to this review as I'll be going on the Legend in January! Keep it coming, and I'll look at as many photos as you post.

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I didn't really watch the time once we got out of the shuttle bus, but I remember thinking it was going to take forever to get through security. The line was obviously very long. However, it moved really quickly. I'm fairly certain it took less than 30 minutes to get onboard. As soon as we stepped into the atrium, we were greeted by all kinds of helpful Carnival people (many of whom were wearing bright red t-shirts that said "just ask" - that was convenient). The rooms were already open, so we went straight to ours to put our carry-ons away. We had an extended balcony room on the Verandah deck (room # 7189). I booked early saver and ended up getting upgraded from a regular balcony room to this one AND got over $300 in onboard credit (from price drops) by the time we sailed.

 

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I had ordered the birthday decorations for DS well in advance, and they were in place. My sister ordered him some soda coupons as a birthday treat. DS can count on his two hands the number of sodas he gets in a year (and DD can count on ONE hand the number she has had ever), so this was a real treat for him. He felt some kind of grown being able to walk up to the bar and order a soda on his own. :p There was a note for him indicating that he would get his coupons at dinner that night (and he did). We also had our pins, our free drink coupons, and several information papers waiting for us.

 

Maybe it was just me (and the fact that the kids are growing...DH too :rolleyes:), but this room seemed a little smaller than some of the others I've been in, especially once it was set up for four of us to sleep.

 

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Anyway, it was fine for us. The bathroom was tiny but had plenty of shelf space.

 

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The free goodies included shampoo and conditioner, tiny packets of toothpaste, and emergen-C packets.

 

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Edited by summercruisin'

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Looking forward to the review! Will be back on the Legend for the second time in October. We're spending a couple days with family prior, but thinking about using Central Parking - saw good reviews of them and have already gotten the online coupon for a free day. Looking forward to seeing a picture of the parking area.

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Joining in! I'm sailing on the Legend in 6 DAYS:D I also have a peanut allergy so I hope you write a little bit about your experiences with this on the ship?

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sorry about the pause....I'm trying to get photobucket to work, and my Internet is very spotty :mad:. I'll have it together before long, and I'll be ready to share lots of pics from around the ship!

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Joining in! I'm sailing on the Legend in 6 DAYS:D I also have a peanut allergy so I hope you write a little bit about your experiences with this on the ship?

 

I can't tell you a lot, because I'd hate to give bad (especially dangerous) advice to anyone. Plus, we believe my DD is outgrowing her allergy (thank God!!! We are going for a tolerance test this week after her bloodwork came back with a very very low reaction this time :)). However, we do still behave as if she is allergic until we know for sure, of course. The only thing we were told to avoid was the cookies (and, of course, M&Ms and other candies known to be made on the same equipment). She ate everything else she wanted (although she stuck to ice cream for deserts per our wishes) and had no reaction at all. When we went on a cruise two years ago, she was still highly reactive. We asked about everything she ate and kept an epipen on us. We had no problems then either :).

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I skipped the spoiler and read down to where you stopped. Then went back and read it. I have been home sick with some tummy illness and have been waiting all day to see if someone had done a Legend review, we go in less than 6 weeks. So yeah!

That poor bus, in the picture you can see flames under the bus! Thank you for your review, can't wiat til you post more...

What was the smell on the ship? or maybe I don't want to know, but I hope they get that fixed!

Edited by marshhawk

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Where are the places to park at the Port of Tampa? I know there is a garage right across the street and I believe that it is $25 a day. We are driving down with 2 cars and would love some other options. Any information would be appreciated. We sail in less than 2 weeks!!!!

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DH and I sail on the Legend Nov 18 so I am soaking up everything I can about the ship and parking. If you could include a info on the parking garage, it would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully, those rates will still be place when our time to cruise comes. Keep the pictures and the review coming. LOVING IT!:)

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Hi Paula! I don't know if you remember but I was supposed to go on the Dream with you a couple of years ago. Our daughters are the same age.

 

I can't wait to read the rest of your review. Less than 2 weeks left until I leave on the Legend and it will help me pass the time!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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whew! Photobucket and I were really struggling there for a while, but I think we are friends again! Then I took a break for dinner, and let me tell you, it was nowhere near as good as last week's meals! But I'm back. So, where was I.....oh yeah, just arriving!

 

We dropped off our bags, checked out our space, looked over the goodies left in the room, and then headed to the Lido deck for lunch! Now, I have a serious love for Carnival's caesar salad (real anchovies! YUM!) as well as their bagel with smoked salmon, so that is always my first meal choice! And it didn't disappoint!

 

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I also got a drink of the day to make this whole vacation thing official!

 

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Before getting my own meal, I picked up pizza for DS and DD. She didn't like it, but DS did. This is odd, since DS is usually my really picky eater (with his sensory issues, he limits himself to literally about 7 meals). DD will usually eat just about anything, but she didn't touch the pizza all week after this try. This was just the first of several odd occurences to come, and I'm allowing myself to believe that cruising may actually be good therapy for autistic kids (I'm completely ignoring the fact that our last cruise was very much overshadowed by DS's many adjustment challenges).

 

DH went to the buffet, but I don't remember what he ate...probably a really big messy salad (his typical choice at any buffet)!

 

After that, DS and I went to guest services because I had contacted them in advance about his Aspergers. I had only asked for two accomodations - one I was assured of in advance: a table just for us four at dinner (to avoid bothering any other diners if he had a meltdown, which is more likely in any situation where things that appeal to his senses are enhanced, like meals in busy dining rooms) and an alternate safety drill (same thing...having to stand in the heat lined up with strangers who may brush up against him, listening to hard-to-hear yet magnified and possibly distorted verbal instructions while smelling everyone's smells is more than he can take). After a very short wait, we spoke with someone who clearly didn't know what Aspergers is or what I was trying to say about verifying and getting instructions on the alternate safety drill. But, she soon went in an office in the back and apparently asked someone else, came out with a list of people with special needs, pointed out DS's name and instructed me to stay in the cabin with DS and DD. She said one adult had to appear at the drill for our cabin and could relay instructions to us afterwards :o. DH agreed to go (okay, I didn't give him a choice. I MAY have even told him that she said the father had to go....can't remember thanks to that DOTD...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). DH went to the drill and, honestly, it was a good thing that DS didn't have to go, because just as the drill started, the rain and thunder did as well. Since, DS's biggest anxiety is storms, he would have been a complete mess standing out on that deck. At home he hides and only comes out to check the weather radar on the computer, a coping mechanism he has used (and understood) since he was 4.

 

Anyway....after the drill, we stood out on our balcony to watch sailaway and take some pictures...

 

goodbye, terminal 2

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Edited by summercruisin'

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After the safety drill, all of our bags soon arrived (yay!) and I unpacked. We had a little trouble with finding enough drawer space, since there were only three available drawers, and I like to keep our bathing suits in a drawer and use the closet shelves for shoes and dirty clothes; but it worked out. In every other way, I felt like we had plenty of space. We easily stored our luggage under the beds. We had robes and life vests stored in one section of the closet. That closet had a bar high up, so it was fine for dresses and such. The middle closet had two bars, one high up and one lower, so it worked for shirts and shorts / pants. The third (from the door) had shelves. I did think to bring extra hangers for myself (especially those clip-style hangers for shorts and skirts...Carnival didn't have those in our closet!), and it was a good thing. I know I can ask for extra hangers, but I don't mind packing my own.

 

After unpacking, we decided to explore a bit, all while watching the clock since I had heard that we would approach the Skyway Bridge around 6. DS was nervous about going under it but eager to watch nonetheless. Here are pics we took around the ship...

 

on our way!

 

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Each deck appears to have different color scheme. Ours (the Verandah deck) was green, and I was glad. The red deck (deck 5) was too overwhelming, and the yellow one (6 I think) just wasn't as great as the green!

 

the chapel

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the library

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the enchanted forest - nice, peaceful walkway! We didn't get here nearly enough!

 

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the porthole windows in the enchanted forest

 

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the atrium with the glass elevators

 

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the Carnival shops - I liked the layout of this space, for some reason. I think it was as simple as the cool curvy hall!

 

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other spots

 

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the glass staircase

 

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Edited by summercruisin'

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This guy was in the main lobby every day, as far as I know. At risk of offending, he wasn't all that great, but seriously....the more drinks I had, the more I liked him! And he seemed so...desperate for approval, asking the audience what he should sing, dancing along with his recorded songs he played between performances, and even wearing a hat with fake dredlocks at times. He was fun to see!

 

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the steak house. We didn't eat here, for a number of reasons. For one, we booked the chef's table dinner in advance and didn't want to miss too many meals with the kids. In fact, the only rule we really had to push for our roaming DS was that he had to eat in the dining room every night. Bless his heart, he took it so literally, he even ate alone in there while we were at chef's table and DD was at Camp Carnival!! Our awesome wait staff took very good care of him!

 

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the Deli line...not too bad, right?

 

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Edited by summercruisin'

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Pretty soon DS got antsy and wanted to go up on a top deck to see the bridge, and it was a good thing he pushed the issue because we were getting close already! The bad thing was it was raining.....a lot, it was cold, and the front of the ship as well as the higher decks were roped off due to high winds, so we couldn't really get a great view of the bridge as we approached it. But we got a view...

 

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the time stamp on my camera says we cleared it at 6:11 pm, and this time it looked like we had plenty of room!

 

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After that, it felt like our vacation was really beginning...we were unpacked, had a good meal and a DOTD, had happy kids, had explored enough to feel at home already, and were heading out to open sea. Fabulous :)

 

Back to the room to prepare for dinner. We always choose late seating because we are night owls and we hate to have to rush back from any port to prepare for dinner. At about 7:30 this first evening, we headed down to the lobby for drinks (a very strong cosmo for me!), and found a delicious little sampling to try. This was pork and peppers with some sort of Mexican-style soup and it was really really good.

 

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If I remember correctly, it was available on a little cart between the casino and the lobby. This pre-dinner tasty and my very strong cosmo along with a little people watching was a great way to spend 30 minutes before dinner. The line for the dining room was very long this first night (I guess people were struggling to find their tables or even which way to go?), but it moved quickly and we were soon seated with probably the best dining team I've ever had.

 

That first night, I started with the cured salmon (delicious!!!),

 

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and both DH and DD had beef barley soup, which was very good (and just right temperature) as well.

 

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For dinner, I had the sweet and sour shrimp

 

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DH had the italian sausage and pasta

 

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Both of these meals were really good. And, I have to go ahead and say it....we did not get a cold meal one single time on this trip. Not once. When we met the chef, he claimed that if we got a cold meal, it was because our waiter wasn't moving fast enough. He said they cannot have any open flame or heat lamps on the ship for safety, so once the food is plated, the server has to get it to the table (two flights of stairs up from the kitchen) as quickly as possible. The chef joked that if our food is hot, then our server is ready for the olympics. If it is cold, then we should complain so that the server could become a sweeper instead.

 

Both kids ordered the flat iron steak for dinner, and they liked it fine but they were not expecting it to have gravy. At our house, we NEVER put gravy or sauce on steak. Why buy a good piece of meat and go through the trouble to cook it just so if you're gonna cover it with a different flavor?? If you're like us...be aware that your flat iron steak will have gravy on it! Sorry I didn't get a good picture!

 

For desert...warm chocolate melting cake for me

 

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the kids got ice cream (we tried to direct DD to order ice cream every night, since many baked goods have nuts in them and it is hard to determine what is safe and what isn't). DH had orange sherbet. Everything was yummy!

 

After dinner, we walked around a little more and took a few professional pictures. We ended up buying a few (not too many), and I almost wish I had bought a few more, especially since they took some really cute ones of DD in Camp Carnival on the first sea day. I saw those pictures and put them back on the rack promising myself I'd come back and pick a favorite or two later...but it never happened. So, one of my biggest tips is definitely: if you find pictures you like even a little, go ahead and make a clear and final decision on whether or not you will buy them right there on the spot. Otherwise you may suffer from the shoulda couldas.

 

We headed to bed before long and watched a little tv in bed. There were not a lot of great channel choices, and this was painfully obvious on the first night when there was also not much recorded stuff featuring fellow passengers. There were a few news channels, the cartoon channel (which only showed creepy strange stuff when we watched it....is that normal? We don't usually watch that one at home), three movie channels, a few channels in Spanish, and a handful of others.

 

The bed, as always, was extraordinarily comfortable, and we all slept very well.

 

That's it for tonight. Now that Photobucket is working with me a little better, hopefully I'll be able to get lots done tomorrow!

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I forgot to mention that we also fit in Camp Carnival registration that first night, and good gracious there were a LOT :eek: of kids on this ship!!! I almost always cruise in the summer (hence the login name) since I'm a teacher, and I know summer cruises typically have lots of kids, but seriously......lots and lots. The good news is that we really didn't notice any troublesome ones for the most part. The kids we interacted with were well behaved. In fact, a group of 4 preteens went out of their way to make friends with DD and even played along as she declared them all her mermaid sisters and gave them all mermaid names. Every time we saw them around the ship, they smiled and said "hi" to their "mermaid friend"! I think the very worse behavior we saw was kids running past people without being very mindful of personal space, and we did hear some pretty foul language near the basketball court. Other than that, all those "great kids" that we hear about on these boards must really exist ;)...and a bunch of them were on this cruise!

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Looking forward to the review! Will be back on the Legend for the second time in October. We're spending a couple days with family prior, but thinking about using Central Parking - saw good reviews of them and have already gotten the online coupon for a free day. Looking forward to seeing a picture of the parking area.

 

 

We were very happy with Capital parking. I reserved a spot online in advance. I think it was 3.99 a night with one free night thanks to the coupon code. We drove right into the fenced area (not paved but it did have a gate that could be closed....not sure if it was b/c I was cruisin'!). We could take up all the room we wanted (no squeezing the SUV in next to another). The shuttle driver pulled up to our car and helped load our bags. We locked the door and kept our keys, and the port was right around the corner (maybe 3 blocks?). When we returned, the shuttle driver picked us up across the street from the port (a porter took our bags to the right spot). It was all very easy and seemed professional. No doubt if we cruise from Tampa again, this is where we will park. Considering the parking garage at the port charges $14 (or is it 15 now?) a day and then you have to drag your luggage across the busy unloading lane, it was well worth the savings!

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Hi Paula! I don't know if you remember but I was supposed to go on the Dream with you a couple of years ago. Our daughters are the same age.

 

I can't wait to read the rest of your review. Less than 2 weeks left until I leave on the Legend and it will help me pass the time!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

 

Hi Shenika!!! I DO remember you and your beautiful daughter! We were so sad when you had to cancel. How cool is it that you are following us on the Legend this summer? Y'all are going to have a great time!!! I hope you are doing well!

Edited by summercruisin'

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Loving your review its helping to pass the time while building the excitement, this will be DH first cruise so he loves to see all the pics!!!!

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Thanks for your time doing this review! Your son did very well eating in the MDR without family with him!

 

Do you remember your table number or where about in the MDR you were seated? I've had several meals served just tepid and wonder if it's a function of where you're seated.

 

Looks like the tide was very low going under the bridge.

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Thank you from me as well. I will be taking my two granddaughters, aged six and seventeen and they are eagerly looking forward to it, as am I and my daughter. Loved the pictures. :)

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As we always do when we go to the Orlando area, we rented a house with a private pool, and that was really nice.

 

Great idea. We've done that when taking the g'children to Disney. It is so dramatically less expensive than snagging a bunch of hotel rooms, and much more comfortable. We had 16 of us in a large house just a mile or so outside the park last time we visited.

 

Sorry to interrupt, great review.

 

Kevin C

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Great idea. We've done that when taking the g'children to Disney. It is so dramatically less expensive than snagging a bunch of hotel rooms, and much more comfortable. We had 16 of us in a large house just a mile or so outside the park last time we visited.

 

Sorry to interrupt, great review.

 

Kevin C

 

 

so true! I travel a LOT with my kids, so friends and colleagues tend to ask me for advice. When they ask about Disney, I always tell them that, unless they are dead-set on staying onsite, they should rent a house. So nice after a long day in Orlando for everyone to have his/her own space! Add in the pool, your own bathroom, a laundry room, more than one tv to fight over :p, and the kitchen (and since I love to cook, I generally do not like eating out....gotta have my own kitchen!)...all for under $100 a night, well, it's a no-brainer IMHO. We rent homes whenever we can while travelling now; rented an awesome townhouse on Capitol Hill in DC last year. It's the way to go - SO much better than a hotel!

 

well, I went off on a tangent :D

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Great review/pics so far! We will be sailing on thie FAVORITE ship of mine for the 4th time in November. Your review makes me want to hijack the ship RIGHT NOW! ;)

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Thanks for all the positive feedback, friends! It helps keep me motivated. So, back to it...

 

Monday morning was the first day at sea. I had perused my funtimes the night before because I had heard about the cooking demo, and I didn't want to miss it! As I mentioned before, I love to cook. It is my therapy after spending the day trying to teach 17 year olds to appreciate Shakespeare (or John Donne...now THAT'S a challenge!). And I like to cook fancy stuff, so I knew this was just right for me. I saw it on the schedule for 11:45, followed by a wine pairing at 12:30! Be still my heart! I am a wine drinker, so this was just perfect!!

On Monday morning, I woke up before everyone else, so I headed upstairs 2 decks to pick up breakfast. I got an omelette (no one in line!), some pan-fried potatoes, some bacon (no bacon police, either!), and an apple pastry. Carnival now has really large plates on the buffet, which is extremely convenient for carrying your breakfast back up to your balcony to enjoy the morning in peace :D. And that is what I did. I grabbed one of my Diet Mt. Dews I had brought along (no coffee for me, thanks!). It was nice and chilled since I remembered to put it in the small in-cabin fridge the night before. I sat right here...

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and it was wonderful! Not too hot, not too noisy (just water noises), just right. I was joined by a few ants after I dropped a piece of potato. Here's the view of the water (and the life boats that are about 2 decks below the balconies on deck 7)...

 

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I do love that shade of blue!

DD loves Camp Carnival and was eager to go meet her new friends as soon as possible, so I woke her up and headed to the buffet to get breakfast for her. She chose to have a pear, a muffin, and some bacon. We have found that, in the buffets, milk is easy to get in the mornings, but not so easy in the afternoons. Since my children drink milk with every meal, we have to ask a server to go get it for them during the afternoon buffets and wait for them to do so. Some don't like to have to leave their post and go find a carton of milk, and it feels like a burden to ask. So, I grabbed an extra carton or two and put it in our fridge...easy solution.

DH joined us and had an omelette (still no line!), a pear, and some bacon...yum!

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Camp Carnival opens at 10 and had a great morning planned out (per DD). The morning included a time for meeting new friends and exploring the playroom, some photography, something called "monster mania", balloon dancing and silly songs (SO what my DD loves!), time for coloring a tshirt they gave her (it had Alvin and the Chipmunks on it), and then an exercise activity playing with a parachute. DD was eager to get there! We found her space pretty easily on deck 5 forward. Her name tag was already made, and her name was in red to indicate she had allergies. They gave me a phone to use onboard in case she needed me (little chance of that...Ms. Independent!), and we were off! Check-in this first time did take a little while, but it wasn't unbearable. Oh, and DS pointed out that CC now has cameras and the playroom is visible on screens just outside the doorway. This is awesome, because parents can look in on their kids without disturbing them, can make sure they are doing well at any point, and can feel a little more comfortable that their kids are safe and well-cared for (not that I worried about that before!).

 

Next we took DS to find his age group, and this was a little harder because they were in Medusa's lounge, which is several floors lower and closer to the back. When we found them, the kids were fully engaged in a scavenger hunt. DS had already explored the ship and knew where everything was. He loves maps and has an almost-photographic memory of even the smallest details, so he knew where everything on the hunt was. Off he went with two new friends to walk through the hunt. He didn't stick with them for very long, though, because he got bored with it. :rolleyes: After that, he never went back to Camp Carnival for the rest of the trip, despite our attempts to get him to do so. Considering his social skills are severely lacking, especially in relating to other kids his age, and he doesn't manage any degree of chaos very well (even happy, well-designed chaos!), we were not surprised that he avoided CC.

 

After ditching the kids :D, I was finally free to enjoy the food and wine tasting!

Edited by summercruisin'

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Thank you for writing this review! I love reading reviews that make me feel like I was there on the ship with you! I've only been on two cruises and Legend was my first ship and it was our honeymoon, so I think I will always have a soft spot for her.

Now, if you could kindly make some more posts to this review for me to read, it would be much appreciated ;) Otherwise, I am going to have to do homework or go work out or something equally terrible :)

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The food demo and the wine pairing are both held in the steakhouse. The tables have been moved out of the way, and the seats were lined up in rows in front of a long table where the cooks would show us how they prepared the food.

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looking up into the funnel...at a painting of Odysseus and the Sirens (looking at the details and appreciating the symbolism is an awesome way for a literature teacher to pass the time waiting for good food)

 

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The head chef, Chef Panda Nirada, came to talk. He is awesome (and I will explain that further soon!)!

 

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The first preparation was a spinach salad with blue cheese, mushrooms, and a homemade dressing. I loved that, while he was preparing this and telling about it, he gave lots of little inside tips on how to avoid typical problems with cooking. For instance he explained how to get the oil to emulsify and mix with the cheese better, instead of being lumpy. He explained why they put the yummy chopped mushrooms UNDER the spinace instead of sprinking it on top. He explained how to cook the different things so they are not overcooked, too mushy, too limp (the spinach), and so on. It was great info. And the best part is the audience gets to taste! Oh yeah!

 

yummy spinach salad!

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melt-in-your-mouth beef stroganoff...

 

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I have to say I tried the beef stroganoff that is served in the main dining room when I was on the Dream, and I found it to be so disgusting. It looked and smelled like dog food, and it really was a bad experience. So, when I saw it listed on the handout (they give you a handout with the recipes on it), I was a little discouraged. But it was soooooo good!

 

Finally, they followed up with cheesecake topped with a berry sauce.

 

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I'm not a big fan of baked goods (I'll take chocolate any day!), but the cheesecake was really good.

 

The chef stuck around to answer any questions people had, and he gave out advice when a few people asked how to avoid a few particular common problems in cooking. He was very personable, and I had no idea just how much better it was going to get when we met him in person...but that's still to come.

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When the food demo wrapped up, we realized it was past 12:30 already, and we had to pick up DD from Camp Carnival at 12:45. For a second I was sad, thinking I would miss the wine tasting, but DH stepped up and saved the day :). He volunteered to get DD for me and take care of her while I tasted wine. (even though he enjoys wine, he's more of a beer fan, so this was not as big a sacrifice as it would have been for me...good choice DH :D). By that time, DS had come in and out of the food pairing a few times, so we knew he was out exploring the ship, and DH agreed to track him down again as well. So off he went, and I moved to the area of the steak house that is by the window to sit for the wine pairing and tasting, which costs $15 a person BTW. It is NOT free, but it was so very worth the cost!

 

We had 5 wines today, 3 whites and 2 reds. One of the whites was a sweet wine. Four of the wines were American, and the 5th was from New Zealand. I'm a dry red wine lover who enjoys tastes from other countries, so right from the start I was a little let down...but I decided to remain open-minded...and I'm so glad I did!

 

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The sommelier was a female (interesting!). When she started out, I was a little concerned that her personality would be a little lackluster for me, but I think she must have just been a little nervous. Once she got going and talking about wine and how to really TASTE it, she really blossomed!

 

Now, I don't want to ruin this for anyone who may do this tasting, so if you don't want the spoilers, skip this purple text coming up...

 

We started with the white wines, and the sommelier explained how to look at the wine, how to smell it, how to prepare yourself for the experience (seriously, she was so fascinatingly into her job) and so on. She had us taste the reisling (the sweeter white wine) first. No one liked it. We all tried unsuccessfully to avoid reacting with a funny face - you don't want to offend the sommelier! She talked about it a bit and we moved on...for a moment. Next we tried the sauvignon blanc. It was pretty good. Light and easy to drink. After a time, we tried the 3rd white one, a chardonnay. It was pretty good as well. And then the magic happened. :p She had us lick the lemon and taste the reisling again. OMG. Totally different experience! Just a tiny taste of lemon changed everything. To make this short, I'll tell you we tried the salmon with the chardonnay...so fabulous! And to round out the white tasting, she had us take a bite of green apple and sip the sauvignon...YUCK! She tricked us on purpose! It totally destroyed the flavor of the wine. But it taught a really clear amazing lesson. All this time I really thought that purposely matching your wine with your food was just for the sake of pretentiousness....but now I just may have to become a snob.

When we went to the reds, we tried the pinot noir first. I have bought Mirassou pinot noir many many times, since it is a very tasty wine available at our local grocery stores and often less than $10 a bottle. When I sat down and saw it on the list, I had originally thought "I already know what this one tastes like..." but after the white wine experience, I was excited to see how this old favorite stood up to the food choices she gave us. The pinot noir ended up being everybody's favorite by the end of the tasting. The second red was a cabernet. It was tasty as well. We paired the reds with the beef (which was amazing on its own!), and both stood up to it well. However, with the sommelier's guidance, it was really easy to pick up on the balance between the flavors - with the pinot noir, you taste more of the meat; with the cabernet, the wine really held up against the beef and they were closer to equal in degree of taste. We also paired the reds with a cheese that had pepper on it. With one wine you could taste the pepper more; with the other, you could taste the cheese more. Amazing.

 

This was absolutely an unforgettable experience.

 

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