Jump to content
  • Deals
  • Find a Cruise
  • Reviews
  • News
  • Cruise Tips

ShotoJuku’s LEGENDary Mediterranean Adventure

Recommended Posts

ShotoJuku’s LEGENDary Mediterranean Adventure



May 4th – 16th 2013



This is my review of my recent 12-day cruise on the Carnival Legend that took us from Venice, Italy to Barcelona, Spain with my Wife to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Our adventure actually begins nearly 1 ½ years ago when I began to explore the any and all cruise options in the Mediterranean with Carnival. Sadly, no cruises had been posted for the time of year that I wanted – that being May, 2013 as our 30th Anniversary would be May 1st. I waited ever so patiently, watched the cruise critic boards carefully for any possible news, hints, or rumors until finally my patience paid off on February 14th 2012 when Carnival posted the dates.


There I sat ever so discretely and quietly in the early morning hours in the living room (in my underwear like John Heald) so as not to wake my Bride and see what was available. What I found was the perfect dates with the perfect itinerary aboard the Carnival Legend who was to set sail on May 4th 2013 from Venice on a 12-day cruise including 10 ports of call including: Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir, Messina, Naples, Rome, Pisa/Florence, Marseilles, and Barcelona. What made this cruise so incredibly fortuitous was this would be the only cruise that Legend would be stopping at Athens and Izmir during the 2013 season.


It was somewhat ironic that I was actually booking the cruise on Valentine’s Day, 2012 (the day we were engaged in 1982, 30-years earlier) and would not reveal this until exactly 1-year later when I would give this to my Bride on Valentine’s Day 2013; what a year of suspense! My Bride, who is principally of Italian/Irish decent had always dreamed of visiting Italy one day but in the back of her mind thought that her dream may never ever be realized. Little did I realize that the year of suspense and anticipation would be worth the wait! In the mean time I started our cruise critic roll call the next day making sure that any computers in the house would never be logged onto the sight for the next year. Our roll call group was named as the M&M’s for either Married in May or Mediterranean in May and what a group it became!



Tick-Tock...one year later...the day had finally arrived - Valentine’s Day 2013 and it was time to launch my plan: Operation Pizza Box! After celebrating 31 consecutive Valentine’s Day’s together I figured that my Bride had probably had her fill of receiving the obligatory box of candy and such so I opted for something better…..pizza! Well not really pizza but a pizza box that I picked up a couple of weeks earlier in preparation of surprising my Bride. Our trip would entail 16-days in total starting on our actual anniversary (May 1st) and ending on our return on the 16th. So I took a large sheet of paper that would fill the inside of the box, drew a circle with 16-slices that denoted each and every day of our journey. On the outside of the box I taped a paper plate onto the cover with a picture of a heart-shaped pizza with a question: I know a place where we can get some really good pizza; interested?





Now when I initially presented the box to my Bride she gazed at it with a bit of bemused puzzlement probably wondering just what the hell did I do now, and where is my candy? Once she opened the box her bewildered look was instantaneously replaced with the absolute best looks of astonished surprise I had ever seen rush across her beautiful face coupled with one of the loudest screams of joy followed by streams of tears that I had ever heard. For an instant I thought that I screwed up big time as her screams and tears could have been easily confused with grief however after a few moments of her now gasping her breath I detected a sign of sheer and utter happiness that was translated into a scream of “I’m going to Italy”!!!!!


That of course was the best gift that I could ever receive as I had given my Bride the realization of her dream to see Italy and so much more. Besides I was going too so it was a win-win for both of us!


More To Come….

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've done Carnival cruises in the Caribbean before - but I"m curious about what is different about Carnival in Europe.


Please be generous with your details of ports, tendering, menus, scenery during days at sea, shows and activities, etc.


Thank you - counting down the days until our Legend cruise in June from Barcelona to Dover.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The next several weeks seemed to creep along somewhat slowly however as we neared our launch date time seemed to move more quickly. Before you we knew it the day had arrived, the actual anniversary date that is, and we celebrated 30-years of wedded bliss the best way we knew how, well actually the second best way, and that was of course to pack! We usually do not have any luggage issues per se when cruising because as most of you know there are no weight restrictions when boarding the ship but God help you if you breach the precious 50 pound limit by just an ounce so we ended up packing one LARGE suitcase each and also one standard size carry-on bag each as well; fortunately the snorkeling gear stayed home on this cruise!


We were to fly from Tampa à Philadelphia à Venice the very next day. Some of you may have suspected already that I tend to be a romantic at heart and when it came to booking the airline seats for our Trans-Atlantic (red eye) flight to Venice I chose row “30” to commemorate our “30th” anniversary; BIG mistake!


As it turns out row 30 is actually the very last row of seats that are conveniently located right next to the bathrooms. To add insult to injury it also appeared that the vast majority of the remaining 250+ passengers must have grown up in a barn as they seemed to never have acquired the ability to close the door (when exiting the bathroom) leaving me to serve as the official lavatory doorman for nearly 9-hours. As an added bonus not only did the seats in row 30 not recline as they were wedged in against a rear bulkhead partition but the food/drink cart’s last stop was of course….wait for it….row 30 and usually out of whatever items we may have wanted; so much for being a romantic!




Ciao For Now…From Row 30!


Up Next - Venizia!!

Edited by ShotoJuku
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suffice it to say that although the plane ride was not shall what I had envisioned, it did of course get us across the Atlantic safely landing it Venice. After deplaning we made our way through the terminal and purchased two bus tickets (6 euro each) from Marco Polo airport to the Piazzale Roma (bus parking lot) on the Island of Venizia. This is pretty much where the road ends and the canals begin. This is where a little advanced scouting paid off as I found a hotel that was not only a few short steps, and only one bridge, over the first canal but also just as convenient to getting to the “people mover”, a Disney-like-monorail, that takes you to the port terminals.


As LEGEND was not due in until the next day we stayed the first night at the (Best Western) Olimpia Hotel (that’s the way it’s spelled). The Olimpia is located on one of the first canals and also has a lovely courtyard in the rear. Pound-for-pound, the Olimpia offered us just what we needed and we were quite pleased with our stay. The Olimpia’s rooms are not quite what you might imagine what a “Best Western” hotel might offer in size, in fact I would say they may actually be just around the same size as an ocean view stateroom. The hotel staff was efficient, helpful, and friendly and also provided a (FREE) terrific breakfast complete with real china settings, silverware, tablecloths, and a coffee waiter. The Olimpia also provided FREE Wi-Fi too which was often hard to find throughout our trip.










After checking in we went out to grab something eat settling on a nice canal-side Ristorante and ordered and split both a pizza “provolone y funghi” (ham and mushroom) and spaghetti Bolognese, both were incredible! One thing we discovered early on is that restaurants also add on a “service/cover charge” of usually around 2.50 Euro each as their form of tipping so you do not need to feel compelled to leave more though I usually did. You also cannot ask for a glass of water but must buy a bottle of spring water if you want water so for just a bit more you can get a liter of vino-rossi (red wine) – “gin dan” everyone!


Between the jetlag, and perhaps the vino, we were due for a brief (4-hour) nap at the Olimpia before striking out to explore Venizia. After returning to the Piazzale Roma we purchased two vaporetto (water bus) tickets that run along the Grand Canal and of course to St. Mark’s Square. By the time we arrived a majority of the daytime visitors had thinned out and we found the square somewhat desolate but certainly with plenty to see and experience like Gelato!









We eventually found our way home to the Olimpia and looking forward to the morning and heading over to our new home for the next 12-days – the Carnival Legend.


Ciao For Now….

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There’s no place like home!



Having sailed on Legend twice before returning to her seemed to be more like a homecoming of sorts except that this time the house had moved from Tampa to Venice, good thing I brought a map! Legend, a Spirit Class ship, just seems to be the perfect size as not being a behemoth and not too small; kind of sounds like the three bears version for ships as Legend is just right for us.




After checking out of the Olimpia we found our way over to the people mover that requires that you purchase a ticket for 1€ each. Fortunately I had a 2€ coin in my pocket so after navigating through the automated machine for a few minutes I was able to make our purchase and made our way over to the turnstile’s that have swinging arms that open and close very fast. I went through first pulling the two LARGE suitcases behind me and then it was my Brides turn, or so I thought. In an effort to be helpful and even a little gallant I told my Bride to bring to put the two small suitcases right in front of her, scan the ticket and that I would pull them through and she could follow right behind them.








Ready-Set-Go….Ticket scanned – swing arms open – suitcases pulled through – and bride too….NOT! Just as soon as I pulled the suitcases through the turnstile arms closed at warp speed leaving me and all of the luggage on one side and she on the other. Of course she could have crawled under and probably ended up in jail or just go back and purchase another ticket except for the fact that I didn’t have another € coin but only € bills, the smallest being a five. So off she went around the corner with a five € bill and I waited and waited and waited for her return…



After several minutes she finally returned somewhat exasperated yet with ticket in hand. It seems that the ticket machine was a bit stubborn in accept her money until another passenger waiting behind her graciously gave her a 1€ coin and assisted her in pointing out that to select the “English” setting on the machine to stop looking for the USA flag symbol but to push the British flag instead. Once again, there’s no place like home!


We were able to check in quickly and board the ship instantaneously, well except that you had to walk around a ½ mile before getting to the ship. Once on board it was business as usual – drop off any carry-on items in the room, head to the lido deck for lunch and of course enjoy our first funship special proving yet again that there truly is no place like home!










Ciao For Now!

Edited by ShotoJuku
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Venice – Part 2



After exploring the ship for a bit we left once again for St. Mark’s Square again taking a long walk along a long pier, then the people mover to Piazzale Roma (this time we both made it), and then onto a vaporetto to St-Mks-Sq. Once there we found the activity to be a bit more robust with more people, sights, and sounds. At one point in the middle of the square my Bride was approached by a young man holding several bright red carnation stems and he handed her one proclaiming to her “Here is a flower for such a beautiful “bella” lady!” Of course she graciously accepted it telling him “gratizi” while I continued to walk straight ahead, shaking my head and waiting for the inevitable….and then it came….”May I please have some money pretty lady?” This is where it got good, she turned to him and politely handed it back with her face now just as red as the carnation was itself! Got to love her!!














We continued to walk and stroll about when I decided that perhaps we could take a page out of Rick Steve’s tour books and do what he suggested – get lost in the back alleyways and explore. So we did both – explore and got lost! Actually, there are no street signs however every now and again you may see a bright yellow sign up on a brick wall that tells you which way to go towards some of the more common points of interest so if you find yourself lost just follow the “yellow brick sign!” After walking around and making a variety of lefts, rights, and an occasional u-turn we found ourselves at the Rialto Bridge which is some 2-miles from where we started (to explore or get lost – take your pick).


After taking a few pictures we opted to have dinner at a Ristorante with a street-side table; of course we ordered yet another pizza, pasta, and vino too! After dinner it was back onto a vaporetto (there’s a stop right there) and we went home to our Carnival Legend stateroom 7243.







Ciao Bella!!!




Ciao For Now!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites








Can I ask where you found that door poster? I ask because DH and I (along with 2 of our 3 sons) are sailing on Legend in July for our 30th anniversary. That would be a great addition for us.:)


I am really enjoying your review (especially the way you sprung the cruise on DW:cool:). Thanks so much for sharing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sail Away Day


We finally came to the day where we would sail away from Venice and continue our cruise adventure aboard the Carnival Legend. Although we were scheduled to set sail at 2PM, we opted not to venture off the ship again and avoid the long walk and people mover thing yet again so we just enjoyed our time on board and the “new and improved” Serenity Deck.


While we were there the newly (re)launched Carnival Sunshine had pulled up along on the other side of the pier as she too would be setting sail on her maiden voyage the very next day. Although Sunshine was to board passengers in just a few hours I noticed that a fleet of workman in hardhats could be seen scurrying around the decks still cleaning up. In fact there were still very large green dumpsters sitting on the lido deck that were hoisted off by a very large crane only minutes before the first guests pulled up in buses for embarkation. Now that I think about it, I wonder why we had to walk the entire way and they were driven in air-conditioned buses?











Just before setting sail we had the customary safety drill and then cast off and set sail. After leaving the pier we headed east along the southern perimeter of Venizia and sail right past St. Mark’s Square – a very impressive sight! All-in-all it took nearly two hours to reach the northern Adriatic sea and proceed southeast towards Dubrovnik, Croatia for our second port of call – Bon Voyage!!!







Que Bella!!


Upon our return we found the John Heald had personally sent us a few treats - chocolate covered strawberries, a bottle of champagne, and of course a 24-carat gold (plastic) ship-on-a-stick...Gratzi John!!




Ciao For Now!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I ask where you found that door poster? I ask because DH and I (along with 2 of our 3 sons) are sailing on Legend in July for our 30th anniversary. That would be a great addition for us.:)


I am really enjoying your review (especially the way you sprung the cruise on DW:cool:). Thanks so much for sharing!



Hi Kathy,


We found the "30" poster in an "I-Party" store, it was in the birthday section for 30-year olds, I added a cutout of our M&M t-shirt in the middle.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
  • Create New...