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Carnival Legend Redux: Sept 30, 2012

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This past Sunday, my family and I returned from another wonderful week onboard the CARNIVAL LEGEND. Though my wife, daughter and I live in Alabama, my extended family all lives in the Tampa Bay area. We will certainly miss the Legend when she leaves the Port of Tampa!

 

We took this same cruise 2.5 years ago, celebrating my daughter's 4th birthday. This time, we traveled with a slightly different combination of family members:

 

--myself, my wife Raya, and my daughter Sophie, now 6.5

--my youngest brother Kevin, his fiancee Melba, and their 3-yr-old son Chris.

--my parents, Marge and Frank

 

We had three standard balcony cabins on Deck 6, all lined up in a row. We had the balcony dividers opened (this is done on the second day of the cruise, the first "at sea" day.) I like having the balconies connected, as the kids could go back and forth among our three rooms. But I dislike the setup of the dividers -- to open them, they have to be folded against the railing, meaning two of our 3 cabins lost about half of our view. I wish they could retract back into the walls, or at least fold in half.

 

In 2010, we had extended balcony cabins. We decided to save a little $$$ this time and just go with regular balconies. I have to say, I missed the extended depth more than I thought I would. With the kids going back and forth, we were constantly maneuvering chairs and tables, saying "watch out -- don't spill my drink," etc., etc. The extra couple of feet of the extended balconies definitely gives some more room to move. Just something to consider for next time.

 

Oh, and we are the type of cruisers who smuggle some booze onboard, though we definitely purchase plenty on the ship as well. I brought 1.75L of Malibu rum, concealed in a few "Rum Runner" flasks. Two small ones were in my cargo pockets as I boarded, with the other 3 scattered inside our luggage. My mom and brother put theirs in water bottles inside their luggage, and all made it through.

 

Incidentally, though -- we had 24 bottles of Coke inside a duffel bag (a very heavy duffel bag!) that we checked with the porters. That bag wasn't delivered to our cabin until after dinner on embarkation day. Inside was a note that said something to the effect of "We thought there was something illegal in your bag, so we searched it, and everything was OK. Sorry for the delay." I guess all those cokes, and/or the weight of the bag, triggered their suspicions.

 

BEFORE THE CRUISE:

The three of us flew down the day before departure, arriving at TPA around 1 in the afternoon. Some good friends of ours picked us up, and we got a chance to visit with them. We headed to the Cigar City Brewery in Tampa for a tour and some tasting. A great time, and a great brewery. If you like craft beers, especially creative and inventive ones, you should visit Cigar City sometime!

 

We hung out at their house for a while in the afternoon, then headed to the Lowry Park Zoo in the evening. This was the preview weekend for their "ZooBoo" festivities, a Halloween-themed adventure in the zoo with decorations, kid-friendly haunted houses, rides, etc. It was a lot of fun.

 

We spent the night at their house, went out to breakfast in the morning, and then headed for the terminal!!

 

DAY 0 / EMBARKATION:

We got to the terminal around 11AM, ahead of the rest of my family. We said goodbye to K&N, dropped off our luggage with a porter, and headed inside. Lines were short, and we were sitting in chairs in the waiting area within 20 minutes. We were zone #14, and zones 1-6 were already boarding at this time. The rest of my family showed up soon thereafter, and they were in zones 18 and 19.

 

By 12:00, zone 14 was boarding. We told my family we'd see them on the Lido, and the three of us headed onboard! After a short wait and an elevator ride, we had a couple of tables claimed on deck 9, and the rest of our party showed up shortly thereafter. We ordered a bucket of beer and some drinks, and familiarized ourselves with the ship a bit. We took the kids down to Camp Carnival to drop off their paperwork, and let them explore the rooms a bit. Since my nephew is under 5, my brother got a phone assigned. The CC staff said that we wouldn't get one automatically, but could check back tomorrow to see if any were available.

 

After lunch, the rooms were ready, and some of our luggage was delivered. We unpacked a bit, then stopped by Guest Services to request the balcony partitions to be opened, did our safety drill at the muster station, and headed back up to Lido to watch sail away.

 

As the ship headed down Tampa Bay, we cleaned up in the room a bit and then headed for dinner (we had the 6PM seating, which is what my parents prefer, and it is easier with kids too.) I was thrilled to see we had a table for 8 in the MDR "annex," right against one of the big starboard side windows. I'd sent an email to John Heald via his blog several months back, asking for a window table. Since we do early seating, we hadn't seen the ship pass under the Skyway. This time, even from the dining room, it was an impressive sight!

 

Our waitstaff was efficient and cordial. The head waiter, Luko, was a bit older and a bit less outgoing than the typical Carnival waiter, and he wasn't much into the singing and dancing portions of the entertainment. So a bit less "fun" then some past cruises, but he was certainly accommodating and took care of our meals without a problem.

 

After dinner, we hung out in the Atlantis Lounge for a bit, then took the kids to the Camp Carnival opening night party at the nightclub. Sophie had fun, but Chris had a bit of a meltdown when it was time to share a balloon with another child, and so his night ended a bit abruptly! After the rest of my family had gone back to their rooms, Sophie wanted to build a bear at CC, so we did that, and then she wanted to put on her PJs and come back to CC for post-10PM movie watching. So we dropped her off, and Raya and I went and watched an "R-rated" comedian in the Firebird lounge. She was funny.

 

We picked Sophie up around 11:30, and we all headed back to the cabin to crash out!! Camp Carnival was able to give us one of their phones at that point too, and we used them to keep in touch with each other and with CC. The onboard cell phones work to call any other phone on the ship -- cabins, other cell phones, etc. Very nice.

 

Some pictures from embarkation day…….

 

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DAY 1 / AT SEA

So our entire motley crew met up for breakfast on Lido, and we basically hung out by the pool for the majority of the day. The weather was perfect, the pool water warm, and we had a great time.

 

This night was our first elegant night, and featured prime rib on the menu in the MDR. Unfortunately, my mom wasn't feeling well for about 48 hours, starting on this day, with some sort of stomach bug. So she barely ate any dinner, and she and my dad returned to their room before dessert.

 

The remaining six of us finished dinner, then hung out in the Lobby for a while, and took some photos on the staircase. Afterwards, we took the kids to CC for the first "Night Owls" party -- a Mardi Gras theme -- and then headed to the Atlantis Lounge to watch (and for some of us, participate in) karaoke. We may have stopped by Billie's Piano Bar this night as well, I'm not 100% sure.

 

 

DAY 2 / COZUMEL

We ordered breakfast from room service, then it was off to the gangway for Sophie, Raya, Kevin, Melba, Chris and me. We'd booked (through Carnival) a "Dolphin Encounter" tour at Dolphinaris in Cozumel. Not the "Swim, Push and Pull" tour, as our kids were too young for that. This is the simpler, less-expensive (though still $100!) tour that allows about 40 minutes of interaction with the dolphins in shallow water. Chris was free, since he's under 5, but we paid full price for Sophie. Well worth it.

 

The entire experience was very efficient -- Dolphinaris has this down to a science. We found the guides at the end of the pier, and they gave us colored wristbands corresponding to what excursion we'd paid for. When the 9:15 group had all arrived, he led us to the parking lot and loaded us into vans for the short trip to Dolphinaris.

 

Once we got there, they gave us a quick overview, and then we rented lockers and towels, and were fitted for life jackets. As it turns out, it was only the six of us signed up for the Dolphin Encounter, so we were our own private group.

 

No jewelry, sunglasses, hats, or shoes are allowed in the water with the dolphins. A bathing suit and a life jacket -- nothing else. And, they even ask you not to wear sunscreen, though that really isn't an option for us. My fair-skinned little girl would be as red as a lobster after 40 minutes in the sun, unprotected! So I hope it doesn't harm the dolphins, but we did wear sunscreen.

 

The experience was amazing. Each of us got four interactions with the two dolphins assigned to our group -- a kiss, a hug, a "handshake," and the chance to feed them. The trainer also had them do some tricks for us, and answered our questions about them. Other groups (with other dolphins) were in the same pool as well, but the area was large enough that it didn't feel crowded.

 

Afterwards, they lead you straight to the photo shop, to see the pictures and video they've been taking of you the entire time. (You aren't permitted to bring your own camera, of course.) The prices are, to put it mildly, highway robbery. I know it's a once in a lifetime experience. But come on. For 12 pictures (on a CD, not even printed!) they want $159!!!!! Printed pictures are $29. EACH!

 

So, I'd heard you could bargain a bit, and so I dickered with the guy for a while. They took over 120 pictures of our group, plus a 10 minute video. Eventually, I got him to agree to $255 for a CD with ALL the pictures, and the video, and four prints. Since I was splitting the cost with my brother, this wasn't too bad. We chose four pictures of the kids for them to print, and we gave those prints to my parents.

 

Highly recommended, but be prepared to bargain on the pictures. Their prices are unconscionable.

 

Anyway, we dried off, changed, and our pictures and discs were ready by the time we changed. They called us a van taxi (included with our booking) and we headed back to the cruise terminal.

 

We grabbed lunch and a few drinks at Fat Tuesday's, wandered the shops for a bit, and then got back on the ship. We met up with my parents in the room -- they'd explored the pier area for a couple of hours on their own.

 

We all had dinner in the MDR that night, and my parents again retired early. Kevin and Melba dropped Chris at CC, but we kept Sophie, and the five us went to a "physical comedy" show. The guy did some sleight of hand tricks, rode a unicycle with a woman from the audience on his shoulders, and then juggled machetes (!) while balancing on an UNSUPPORTED (!!) eight foot metal ladder. It was pretty incredible.

 

Pics from days 1 and 2….

 

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DAY 3 / BELIZE

None of us got off the ship this day. On our last cruise, Raya had taken a tour of some Mayan ruins with her folks. While interesting, she didn't really need to repeat it. And all the other excursions seemed to involve pretty extensive car / bus rides, which we weren't eager to do with the kids. If the port had a pier, we probably would have walked off for a bit. But since it involved a tender ride, we all stayed put and enjoyed a half-empty ship.

 

We slept in, hung out by the pool, drank and ate and lazed the day away. Marvelous.

 

That night, after dinner, we took the kids to CC and then hung out in the piano bar for a bit, and watched some "Superstar Karaoke" in the Firebird Lounge. Pretty cool to see karaoke with a live backing band.

 

 

DAY 4 / ROATAN

After a quick room service breakfast, watching the ship back in to the pier from our balconies, we walked off the ship to Roatan. We rode the "flying chairs" to the beach and claimed a spot. The weather was iffy today, cloudy, and it sprinkled a few times. We moved up under cover at the restaurant while the rain was at its worst, and the kids played on the (covered) playground, so it wasn't too much of a problem.

 

Raya and Sophie snorkeled quite a bit, though the only sea life we saw was a single starfish and one sea urchin, that Kevin moved out of the swim area so no one would step on it! He and Melba and Chris rented one of the big "water trikes" and pedaled around the canal for a while.

 

We headed back to the ship around 2PM for a late breakfast on the Lido, and sat on the port-side to watch the ship pull away. At 4:15, my parents, Raya and I went to the Gold/Platinum/Diamond party. And even though Sophie's not a Gold member yet, they let her in too. We had some free drinks and appetizers, and watched James the CD be corny on stage, and cheered for the ships we've been on, etc., etc. It was fun.

 

That night was the second elegant night, though we all dressed a bit more casually (no ties!). After some more pictures after dinner, we took Sophie to a "family-friendly" comedian, and then to the "Big Easy" singing and dancing show, which she LOVED. We took her to CC after that, and hung out with the adults for a while, hanging out in Billie's. After a late night snack of pizza on the Lido deck, the four of us headed down to pick up the kids.

 

As was often the case, they were the last two kids at Camp, around midnight (not a whole lot of kids in camp this cruise, compared to our last one during Spring Break). The counselor at the gate called, "Sophie, Chris -- your parents are here." Sophie walked up to the gate, and behind her we hear "run-run-run-thump-whomp." Chris took a spill into the floor in front of the gate -- he was OK. But when his face popped up from behind the gate, he was painted like a pirate! Eye patch, scar, the whole thing. It was hilarious, and we laughed all the way back to the room!!!

 

Pics from Roatan:

 

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DAY 5 / GRAND CAYMAN

We decided to have breakfast in the MDR this morning. Those of us who were past cruisers had coupons for a free drink in the MDR for breakfast or lunch, and we decided to use them. After some mimosas, bloody marys, and screwdrivers, along with a great breakfast, we headed to Follies lounge to get tender tickets for Grand Cayman.

 

A very short wait in Follies, and a short wait at the gangway, and we were onshore by 10:30 or so. We wandered the shops a bit, then found ourselves at Margaritaville. On our last cruise, Kevin, my father-in-law and I had done a snorkeling expedition here, while Raya, Sophie and my mother-in-law shopped and then met us at M'ville. The rest of my family ended up doing a "van tour" of the island that turned into quite a misadventure, so no one repeated that experience!

 

At MV, one of the cabanas by the pool was available, so we claimed it as our home base for the day, and I never left. We swam in the pool, drank, ate, and the kids took us down the slide about 1000 times!! (Neither one was quite tall enough to ride it alone.) Although the swim-up bar was closed, the waitress took great care of us, and we had a blast. Paradise.

 

We headed back to a tender about 4:30 (ship departed at 6PM). The wait to load the tender was pretty long, and Sophie fell asleep. When we got back to the LEGEND, we went straight up to the Lido, and we let her nap on a lounger for a bit longer. We'd already decided to skip the MDR that night, so after Sophie woke up, we swam in the pool for a while as the ship departed, then grabbed dinner from the buffet and swam a bit more after dark, before calling it an early night.

 

Pictures from Grand Cayman:

 

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DAY 6 / AT SEA

We slept a bit late this morning, and then again basically lazed away the day on the Lido deck, both breakfast and lunch from the buffet. Sophie, Raya, Kevin, Melba and I played some mini-golf in the afternoon while my dad took Chris to the room for his nap. Challenging to play mini-golf into a 25mph wind, and made even more so by the fact we played "Wisconsin rules" -- always a drink in one hand!!

 

We headed back to the cabins around 4 to finish the unpleasant task of packing our suitcases, and we had most of it done by dinnertime. We had our last dinner (prime rib again!), and watched the waiters do their goodbye song and dance routine, although again, Luko only barely participated.

 

After dinner, we watched some more Superstar Karaoke, and both Kevin (solo) and Raya and Melba (duet) got on stage. Raya and I took Sophie to the Legends show and watched our fellow passengers perform pretty well, and watched James camp it up in the infamous Dolly Parton getup, complete with Union Jack boxers underneath!

 

After that, it was back to the room and bedtime, with one last stop on the balcony to enjoy the waning moments of our cruise….

 

Pictures from Day 6:

 

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DAY 7 / DEBARKATION

By the time we got up at 7AM or so, the ship was pulling into the Port of Tampa. We watched from the balcony as the ship slid up to the dock.

 

Debarkation moved a bit slow this morning, I think mostly because there were some slowpokes getting to the immigration meet up that morning. All non-US citizens have to meet in the lounge to be processed by Immigration, and James had to call cabin numbers several times, and eventually had to call one last person by name, repeatedly. He made a joke of it -- "Mr. so-and-so, you are holding up the entire debarkation process. If you need help finding the Follies Lounge, I'm sure ANYONE ON THE SHIP will be happy to point you in the right direction."

 

By 9AM or so, they started calling self-assist passengers, and then eventually passengers with luggage to claim. We were zone #12, and we were off the ship by about 10:15. It was easy to find our luggage, we got through customs without any difficulty, and we said our goodbyes to the rest of my family in the parking deck across the street.

 

Meanwhile, my middle brother (lives in Tampa, but didn't come with us this time) picked up Raya, Sophie and me and we hung out with him and his wife for a few hours, before heading to TPA for our 4PM flight back to Birmingham.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We like the Carnival Legend, and I like the ports on this itinerary, except for Belize. Still, having done it twice, I think this is the last time, and with the Legend leaving Tampa anyway, I guess it has to be. I'd very much like to do a different itinerary next time -- we've done eastern and western caribbean, I'd love to do a southern Caribbean itinerary. My parents would like to go back to RCI next time -- they think the food is superior. I'd be willing to try it, though right now I don't love any of their itineraries from Port Canaveral, Ft. Lauderdale, or Miami. Carnival has some better choices.

 

Still, we're looking at October 2014 for our next cruise, so schedules aren't published yet anyway.

 

The LEGEND was in decent shape, just a few tired spots here and there. The overhead lights in the Atlantis Lounge had an annoying flicker that never got fixed. The air hockey table in the arcade was pitiful, half of the air jets not working, which made it difficult to play!! A few little things like that. But the beds were comfy, rooms quiet, elevators quick, crew friendly and efficient, food great, and overall we had a wonderful time.

 

We did purchase an Internet plan, and it did work in the cabin from my iPad, though not on the balcony. And even inside the cabin, it was pretty sluggish. By the end of the week we were just going to the Holmes Library for Internet access instead. That was slower than onshore connections, of course, but better than the wireless.

 

Thanks for reading all of this, and any questions or comments, let me know!!

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Thank you for your review and pictures! We are sailing in 40 days, for our second time on the Legend.

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Yay great review! Thanks!

 

 

I'm a little disappointed to find out that opening the balcony dividers will cut our view in half. I didn't realize that and I may not want them opened now.

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Thank you for your review and pictures! We are sailing in 40 days, for our second time on the Legend.

Yes thanks we also will be on the Legend in 40 days :D

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Yay great review! Thanks!

 

 

I'm a little disappointed to find out that opening the balcony dividers will cut our view in half. I didn't realize that and I may not want them opened now.

 

It is annoying, and especially from inside the cabin, you do lose about half your view. I looked through our pictures, and I don't have any of the balcony (maybe 'cause it wasn't all that attractive?) but you can see some examples of what it looks like on this thread:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1425571

 

Now. If the divider is open between two cabins, only one will have an obstructed view. If between three, like ours, only two will have the obstructed view. We were on the starboard side, and they open ours towards the bow. So those of us with the two rooms closest to the bow (us and my parents) had the railing against the balcony, while my brother's room (closest to the stern) was unobstructed. But obviously I don't know if this is always the pattern, or if it varies by ship, deck, and location.

 

Thanks to all for your comments!

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It is important ot note that on Spirit Class Ships -- Spirit, Pride, Legend & Miracle -- that not all balcony dividers open anyway. Also, critical info to some, NONE of the aft-balcony dividers open at all due to security reasons.

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It is annoying, and especially from inside the cabin, you do lose about half your view. I looked through our pictures, and I don't have any of the balcony (maybe 'cause it wasn't all that attractive?) but you can see some examples of what it looks like on this thread:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1425571

 

Now. If the divider is open between two cabins, only one will have an obstructed view. If between three, like ours, only two will have the obstructed view. We were on the starboard side, and they open ours towards the bow. So those of us with the two rooms closest to the bow (us and my parents) had the railing against the balcony, while my brother's room (closest to the stern) was unobstructed. But obviously I don't know if this is always the pattern, or if it varies by ship, deck, and location.

 

Thanks to all for your comments!

 

Very helpful and I'll run it by the family. Thanks!

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