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Cruising Christine turns Gold in Gold Country: an Alaska/Legend Review

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It's been a few weeks since my husband and I got back from the first Carnival cruise to Alaska of the season, and I'm very excited to start this review! I was hoping to start it earlier, however, I actually came home from this cruise sick with dual sinus/ear infections, so I spent my first post-cruise weekend home in bed recovering. Then last weekend my husband and I were out of town volunteering at a local robotics event for kids. With this weekend being the long Memorial Day weekend, I'm hoping to get a good chunk of this review written. Even if there's no one around to read it. ;-)


A little background: as you already know from the title of this review, as well as my signature, my name is Christine. I just turned 40 last November, and I'm finally starting to get over the horror of turning the big 4-0. My cruising partner for life is my lovely husband Mark, who is turning 49 in less than two months. Not sure how he's going to handle turning the big 5-0 next year, but hopefully there won't be any kind of mid-life crisis in our future. I think he's handling it good so far. Probably better than I handled turning 40!


I'm not sure why, but I neglected to take any good selfies of the two of us on this trip. So, I will share a picture of the two of us that I purchased from our cruise last November.




This cruise was to be the first Alaska cruise of the season. I booked this specific cruise because it was the only one that Carnival had scheduled that would go to both Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Bay. And looking at next year's schedule, I think that was a wise decision because I don't see any cruises in 2018 that go to both. Now, when I book cruises I don't search just Carnival cruises specifically. I cruise because of the ports, but it just happens that Carnival always seems to have the best itineraries for the price at the time that I want to sail. For Alaska, it was definitely no different. Carnival had great prices for Alaska cruises when I booked.


This was also to be the only 8-day itinerary to Alaska that Carnival was offering. The 4/30/17 sail date was an early one, but I didn't mind because the timing of it worked out perfectly for me for work. I also liked that it was so early in the season because I wanted to experience cold and white mountains while in Alaska. Call me crazy, but I don't think of green mountains and warm weather when I think Alaska. I wanted the real experience.


Our schedule was as follows:




Since we have friends that live in Seattle, we thought this trip would be the perfect opportunity to visit them. The cruise was to be a Sunday through Monday cruise, and even though it started in Vancouver and ended in Seattle, it made more sense to take a couple days before the cruise so that we could spend time with them on a Friday and Saturday, rather than Monday and Tuesday. So I booked a early morning flight out of Boston to Seattle on the Friday before the cruise.


I always book flights with credit card rewards, and usually always book with Southwest. They are definitely my airline of choice. JetBlue is my second choice, and for this time around, I chose them because of the fact that they had a nonstop flight from Boston to Seattle.


This would be the longest flight that I have been on it quite awhile. The last 6+ hour flight I experienced was when I flew to Vegas years ago when I was still dating my husband. Flying is not my favorite thing to do, so at least with JetBlue we had the added plus of being able to watch movies during the flight, which definitely helps to pass the time. That's probably the only thing I don't like about Southwest: no in-seat movie screens. Oh well, at least this long flight would help get me ready for my first flight to Europe next year.


As we approached Seattle, the view of the white mountain tops was breathtaking:






While you can obviously see the mountains from both sides of the plane, here's a little tip if flying in from the east: sit on the left side of the plane, and you can catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier. It wasn't easy taking a picture because the whiteness of the top of the volcano matched the whiteness of the clouds that day, but here's the best picture I was able to get.



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Thanks for the review but they can keep Alaska, mountains covered in snow, cold weather and watching whales is not my idea of a good cruise.

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can't wait to read more! The legend is definitely in the running for our Alaska cruise. I'd love to try another line but it's hard to get past the pricing!


Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

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The flight to Seattle was basically uneventful. Originally the pilot told us that we were going to arrive early, but mid-way through the flight he came on the loudspeaker and said that due to storms in the Midwest, he was having to fly further up into Canada to go around them. So we ended up arriving at pretty much the time we were supposed to. The good thing about flying from east to west is that you can leave late in the morning and arrive early in the afternoon thanks to the time change.


I normally don't take photos while in airports simply because I never think to while we are dealing with our luggage and making sure we are where we need to be. However, I did snap one of the luggage pick-up area at SeaTac, because I thought it was cute. If you ever lost luggage at SeaTac and wondered what happened to it...




Our options to get from Seattle to Vancouver were to either rent a car and drive, or take the Amtrak Cascades train that leaves early in the morning. I think Amtrak also has a bus option as well, but in the end I decided that renting a car and driving would be the better option because it would allow us to travel on our own schedule.


I ended up booking a rental for two days from Alamo. It was pretty convenient because we could pick it up right at SeaTac and drop it off right at the Vancouver cruise port. The price for two days was very reasonable (hint: if you are going to do this, book early because when I checked again a week or two before our trip to see what the prices were, they had jumped up considerably). I choose the mid-size car option because it was listed as a "Hyundai Elantra or similar." My husband drives an Elantra and I knew that the size of the car would be fine for us and our luggage.




I had chosen the "Skip the Counter" option that Alamo offers that allows you to simply proceed to where they keep the cars and choose your own car from the section with the car class that you booked. There was only one in the mid-size car section and there was no way it was close to being the size of an Elantra. It was a very small hatchback, and with three pieces of luggage, a carry-on bag and one backpack, there was just no way that it was going to work for us. Even with putting some luggage in the back seat.


Fortunately a guy from Alamo saw us and came right over. He pointed to the small SUV section and told us to pick one of those instead. Of course I asked him if we were going to get charged more and he said no, not to worry about it (which was the truth, we were never charged more). So we chose a Jeep Compass, and we were on our way with a nice, free upgrade. "Upgrade" would prove to be the theme of this vacation.




Now, with every vacation, no matter how much I plan (and I am an obsessive planner, trust me), I always make one goof that costs me money or causes me stress. One time we were driving to Niagara Falls from our house in NH, only to find out on the way that apparently Garmin doesn't consider Canada part of their North American maps. So we had to stop and buy a GPS along the way.


Then there was the time that we spent a couple days post-cruise in New Orleans, and on the last day I lost the keys to the rental car in a mall. Fortunately we were able to find them, but can you imagine how much it would have cost if we hadn't? Or worst yet, if someone stole the rental?


Some less stressful goofs included the time when I forgot all of my cameras cords so had no way to charge them or download the pictures off of them. So my husband spent $60 in the ship's arcade winning me a cord that didn't even work with either camera anyway. Then there was my last cruise when I didn't plan out a place to have breakfast the morning of and ended up paying around $40 for basically a continental breakfast at the hotel.


With this trip, in an effort to save money, I had decided that I was going to just bring my own GPS rather than pay extra to use one of Alamo's. I have two GPS's. One that I use all the time, because I love it. That's the one that doesn't have Canada included in it's maps. And then the one that I had to purchase on the way to Niagara Falls (because I never got around to returning it for some reason). Clearly that would have to be the one I would have to bring with us, and I even went through the trouble of making sure the maps were updated before we left on this trip.


Welllll, wouldn't you know it, in the haste of packing for the trip, yup...I grabbed the GPS that doesn't have Canada maps on it. Thank god for GPS apps on phones that at least got us to the hotel and eventually, to Best Buy to buy a new GPS. I didn't realize I had the wrong GPS until after we left Alamo, and didn't feel like going all the way back to SeaTac to get one of theirs, in case you are wondering. Besides, this time I was determined to actually return the darn thing to Best Buy and get my money back, which I did after we got home. So my goof didn't actually end up costing me any money, but what the heck. Just once I'm going to plan everything right so that I don't have a swearing moment while on vacation!


We were spending one night (Friday) in Seattle and driving to Vancouver some time on Saturday and spending one night there before our cruise on Sunday. I booked Cedarbrook Lodge which is located near SeaTac.




I couldn't possible recommend this place more if you are looking for a reasonably priced hotel and don't care about not being close to downtown. This place is absolutely gorgeous. There is a spa on the property, and it's a popular place for weddings. I had booked a deluxe king room for $143 for the night. Upon arrival I found out that they had upgraded us to a deluxe king balcony room. Another upgrade! I was liking this trip so far.


Our room with the balcony:







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I really liked the decor in this hotel (notice the picture on the wall in this next pic). The whole "outdoorsy" lodge feel of it was perfect to get us in the mood for our trip to Alaska.




The balcony was really cute, although not very private, as you can see right onto your neighbor's balcony (ours was on the end, so we had no neighbors to the left).




View of a portion of the grounds from the balcony:




You can see our luggage in this picture:




One thing that is definitely different an Alaska cruise (for obvious reasons) is what you pack. We definitely had more with this trip, and I had to use the biggest size luggage in my luggage set. But, I still think we did pretty good. Other than forgetting some random thing, I'm pretty good with not over-packing and also with utilizing space effectively. We were able to fit 10 days worth of clothes (which all included pants, not shorts), my laptop, several cameras, as well as our winter jackets, my boots, and even a teddy bear that I try to take with me on trips.


The room included robes, although not quite as comfortable as Carnival's robes.




With this being a spa hotel, they have a nice added touch of having a selection of different pillows to meet your specific needs:




Unfortunately I didn't notice this card in the room until the next morning, so I wasn't able to take advantage of this little perk. Had I noticed, I would definitely have requested the hypoallergenic pillow, as I have bad allergies. And probably would have asked for a body pillow, too. That's actually the reason why I have a teddy bear. I sleep with him because I use him, along with a pillow between my knees, as sort of makeshift body pillow. I realize I could go out and buy an actual body pillow, but well, I've sort of become attached to him.

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A picture from the lobby looking down to the restaurant located on the premises. We didn't have dinner here, but we heard from our friends who live in Seattle that the restaurant is very good.




The hotel has a little gift store with nice stuff for sale, though I wasn't going to start buying souvenirs so soon when we had plenty of opportunities ahead of us for shopping.




Each wing of the hotel must be accessed using your room key, and had a little living area to be used just by hotel guests.






See the fridge in the picture above? They keep it stocked with snacks for the guests that you can help yourself to. I can't recall everything, but I remember seeing yogurts and string cheese. On the counter next to the fridge they had candy jars that you could help yourself to. And in the freezer contained my husband's favorite...




Ice cream! All you can eat individual containers of Haggen-Dazs ice cream. Let's just say the hubs was in heaven that night. Now, I know lots of people love Carnival's all you can eat, 24 hour, self-serve ice cream, but to me it's not really ice cream. At best it's a good frozen treat when you are hot. But Haggen-Dazs is the real thing. Mmm. This was definitely a nice touch.


The hotel has a nice bar as well, although we didn't spend any time there as we went out with our friends that night.



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The grounds around the hotel have lots of wildlife, so if you have young kids, they would probably get a kick out of this place.










I thought I took a picture of the breakfast area, but apparently I didn't. Breakfast is included, and is your typical buffet breakfast.




I have to say, this was the only negative part of this hotel. Their breakfast was not very good. I couldn't even eat the eggs. They were definitely powdered. Everything else was just ok. Nothing special at all. Would this stop me from booking again, or from recommending the place? Definitely not. It's not like you are going to starve. It's just nothing to rave about.


Overall, the hotel was excellent. Definitely a place that you can have a nice, relaxing, stay at. Actually, I kind of wished we were there more than just the one night. In fact, we are thinking about taking a trip back to Seattle in the future to visit our friends again, and we will definitely stay there if we do.

Edited by bakersdozen12

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Thanks for the review but they can keep Alaska, mountains covered in snow, cold weather and watching whales is not my idea of a good cruise.


Haha, I can understand how you feel. Having lived in New Hampshire my whole life, I HATE the cold and snow. I love cruising to the Caribbean to get away from it all. But, this cruise was all about the views and seeing sights that you can't see even where I live. In the end, it was totally worth it and completely an unforgettable experience (in a good way).


Oh my, this is going to be an AWESOME review! Thanks for taking time to do one, I will be following along.


Thanks! I do feel like this is going to be an awesome review, mainly because we went on such fantastic excursions. The only thing I hate about writing reviews is how long they take, and this one is probably going to be my longest. It kills me that I can't write one all in one sitting, but it takes so long to go through all of my pictures, and this time around, I have tons!


Nice photos. Will be following.


Thanks! Hope you enjoy the review. :-)


can't wait to read more! The legend is definitely in the running for our Alaska cruise. I'd love to try another line but it's hard to get past the pricing!


This is definitely one of those cruises where personally, I don't think the ship matters. It's not going to be what you remember when looking back on the cruise. That's not to say that the Legend isn't nice. It certainly is. But you don't need a lot of bells and whistles. It's definitely all about the itinerary. And I know what you mean, the prices of Alaskan cruises are certainly up there! Especially when you factor in the cost of excursions, which are extremely pricey as well, but totally worth it. If I can give anyone advice as far as cruises to Alaska is concerned it's this: spend more money on the excursions, and less on the cruise itself. Otherwise you are just paying for a really cold cruise with not a lot of memories of the fantastic experiences that Alaska has to offer.

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Nice start! I've got that colored luggage recently and really like it. It's so big. Next time I won't use the liner, just put a bunch of stuff into it. Easy to find at debark.

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Nice start! I've got that colored luggage recently and really like it. It's so big. Next time I won't use the liner, just put a bunch of stuff into it. Easy to find at debark.


Nice! Do you have the whole set? I bought the set because of the fact that the middle sized one has a cruise ship on it. That's normally the one I use, but had to use the bigger one (with the car on it) for this trip. Just needed the extra space.

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This was my first time visiting Seattle. My husband had been before, for work. He used to have a job that sent him everywhere, even to countries outside the US. Between the two of us, he is the world traveler, and I am the sheltered one. But, my passion for cruising is slowing catching me up.


Friday night we were pretty jet lagged, so we weren't really in the mood to do much sightseeing. We drove to our friends' house and ended up walking to a hamburger joint that was close to their house for dinner. I was so hungry at that point since we hadn't had lunch and to us, it felt like it was late night since we were still on east coast time, so I didn't take any pictures of my burger. But it was good, and I had tator tots on the side.


After eating, we walked back to their house and got in their car so they could drive us to someplace they go to frequently: a gaming cafe called Uptown Espresso. Seattle and Canada are both huge on gaming cafes and gaming restaurants. Basically they are places where you can go and play board games (they supply the games), while having a meal or some coffee. We love to play games, and I just love the concept. I wish they had some of these places where we live. They are really fun.


Inside the cafe, where they sell drinks and pastries, and have lots of tables set up:




As you can see in the background (behind my husband), they have all of their games arranged alphabetically. The games filled about of the walls within the cafe.




They have games for people of all ages. If you have kids, this is a great (and pretty much free) thing to do while in Seattle. They don't charge to play the games. It's just customary to buy something to eat or drink while you are there. We played a gamed called Mysterium, which was fun. Unfortunately I had to give up caffeine a number of years ago, so there really wasn't any kind of coffee drink I could get, so I got an Italian soda with a vanilla shot. It was delicious!




I would have loved to have stayed longer, but was really tired at an early hour due to being on east coast time. So after the one game, we headed back to the hotel for the night. On a side note, I normally have insomnia and can't fall asleep at a reasonable hour for the life of me. At home, I'm lucky if I'm asleep by 2 am in the morning. Given that I have to get up between 5 or 6 am, this doesn't bode well for my health. During this trip, I was falling asleep at 10 or 11 pm almost every night. It was nice being on a more reasonable schedule. So I guess I've discovered the cure for my insomnia. Clearly my internal clock is on west coast or Alaska time!

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Seattle cont'd


Saturday we decided to spend the morning and afternoon seeing at least one sight in Seattle. Our friends, Mike and his wife Jaime, have a membership to the Museum of Pop Culture, and since I'm a huge science fiction fan, this place was definitely going to be someplace I would enjoy. https://www.mopop.org/


The museum is basically all sci fi and music exhibits. They were able to get us in for free, so all we had to pay for was to park (which was right across the street), and for the optional Star Trek exhibit which was only $5/person.


You definitely can't miss this place when driving by.




It's located right next to the Space Needle. I believe that you can purchase a package deal which gives you admission to both the museum and the Space Needle.




We were a little pressed for time since we still had to make the 3 1/2+ hour drive to Vancouver later that day, so we opted to skip the needle. But, going up it is something that I want to do someday, so it's even more reason for us to go back to Seattle someday. There's really so much to see in the city. I would love to have had a chance to visit Pike's Place and the Chihuly Garden andGlass museum as well. It was tough deciding what to do that day.


The lobby area of the museum:




The museum has lots of movie props. Car from Blade Runner hanging in the lobby:




They have a really awesome Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame exhibit, complete with props on display. From Indiana Jones:



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We really didn't spend any time in the music exhibits, so I can't comment on those, buy I'm guessing they are pretty fantastic for those who are rock 'n roll fans:




They had an awesome section of the museum dedicated to Fantasy-type movies, and I was ecstatic to see props from The Princess Bride!




For those that are horror movie fans, there was a large dedicated section on that genre as well. Some Friday the 13th props:




From the Alien series:




Any Walking Dead fans? Daryl's collection of walker ears, lol:



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I am a huge Star Trek fan, so this exhibit was worth paying the extra money for. They had props and costumes from all the different series and movies over the years.




You can even crawl through a jefferies tube, if you like. I did. ;-)




For lunch we decided to eat at the museum. They have something there called the Culture Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. My husband always tells me about how, years ago, when he was traveling to some state (can't remember where), someone had taken him to one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants and they did some chef's tour of the menu that was to this day the best meal that he had.


Well, I doubt this place is as good as his larger restaurants. This little place is weird. You walk in and have to seat yourself. Then there was only one waiter that basically told us he would be with us as soon as possible, but if we wanted faster service, we should order our food ourselves at the bar. Um, ok.


They have a very small menu:




I ended up having the fish sandwich. It was ok. The crust on it was extremely crispy and almost over-done. And it didn't come with tarter sauce. Instead, it came with some kind of remoulade sauce, which was just alright. Really, the chips were probably the best part of the meal.



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Traveling from Seattle to Vancouver


We stayed at the museum until about 3:00, then dropped off Mike and Jaime at their house, said our goodbyes, and proceeded for the drive up to Vancouver. It's supposed to be about a 3 hour drive, but it was more like 3 1/2 hours with traffic.




The drive up isn't incredible scenic. I know that there is a more scenic way to go, but quite frankly I was a bit anxious to get to Vancouver and settle into the hotel before it got dark out. There is one section along the way that we drove up that was very pretty, with lots of beautiful forests along the way. It rained for a good portion of the trip, though, so it didn't make for good picture stops. We actually only stopped once at a rest stop to use the bathroom. My husband slept pretty much the whole way. I envy him in that he can sleep pretty much anywhere. Me, not so much. Especially when traveling to some place new. I like to see everything. I guess I'm just curious by nature.


Given that he was snoozing and I had no one to talk to, the drive was pretty boring. At some point, though, I had some company that I got a kick out of:




If you don't understand the reference, it's just because you are too young. :) My husband never did wake up to see the car himself, even though I followed behind it for a good portion of the drive.


Eventually we made it to the border, and the crossing wasn't bad at all. I think we waited maybe 20 minutes altogether.






Now, for some reason the border control agent was grilling me like crazy with tons of questions. And I'm the type of person who gets paranoid in situations like this even when I have nothing at all to hide! I was pretty much sounding like an idiot answering her questions, and was waiting for her to tell me to step out of the car at any moment, lol. But she didn't. Mental note: let the hubby be the one to drive through border crossings from now on.


The hotel I booked for our one night stay in Vancouver was called Skwachays (pronounced "squatch-eyes") Lodge. It's a little boutique hotel, and what really got me was not only the price, but also the pictures of the rooms. Each one has it's own theme, and they are so cute! If you have a chance, check out the pictures on their website. Given that it's an Indian-themed hotel, it seemed perfect for a pre-Alaska cruise hotel stay. http://skwachays.com/



It was getting kind of late by the time we got up there, and at this point I was a little tired of driving. I also really don't like driving in cities when I don't know exactly where I am driving. Don't get me wrong, thank god for GPS's, but they are not always easy to following in cities where you can't make quick changes of lanes when you need to. I just wanted to get to the hotel and get settled in. As we approached where the hotel was located, I noticed an ambulance and police with flashing lights. I remember thinking, "That's probably right where our hotel is located."


I wish I could say I was wrong, but I wasn't. I don't know what happened, but the ambulance was on the corner of the same block the hotel was located on, and it wasn't taken off. It was just sitting there. I pulled over in front of the hotel, and my husband got out to ask where we were supposed to park the car. I had to pay extra for a parking spot at this hotel. As it turned out, it was an underground, secured parking garage that we had to park in, and we had to drive around the back to the entrance.


Which wasn't good, because I was stuck behind this:




The trolley couldn't go anywhere because of the ambulance and police, and no one could go around the trolley. So we were stuck there for a good 30 minutes. It was not what I wanted to deal with after a long drive.

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Eventually we were able to get the car parked in the garage. The fact that the garage was gated was a good thing, because I'm not going to lie, I don't think this hotel is located in the best part of Vancouver. I wouldn't have felt safe leaving our rental parked out on the street.


But, since the car was locked up safely, we were able to leave our larger luggage and just take in the one carry-on bag that I had brought, which I had the foresight to make sure contained a couple days worth of clothes so that we wouldn't have to open up the larger luggage until we were on the ship. It was a good thing, too, because you have to navigate some stairs in order to get from the parking garage to the hotel lobby.


I had booked just a regular king room for the night, at a price of $176 CAD. The price, and how cute the hotel was, were the main selling points for this place. Upon checking in we found out that they had upgraded us to one of the two-room suites. Another upgrade! Seriously, what was up with all the upgrades on this trip? I'm not complaining, but this never happens to us.


We would be staying in room # 601, the "Canadiana Suite."




Our excitement about the upgrade was short-lived when we opened up the door and saw this:




Ugh, a flight of stairs when you are tired is not a welcome sight! Thankfully we had left our big, heavy suitcases in the car.


The top of the stairs:






The room was impeccably decorated. Probably not one of the prettiest rooms that they have, in my opinion, but very cute and a great theme to get you in the mood for a trip to Alaska.



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It had a fridge and microwave:




And a separate small room with a sofa and a second TV. Nice, but given we arrived late and would be checking out early in the morning, we really had no use for it.




The only downside of the room (besides the stairs) was that the shower was really small. It reminded me of the shower in the small apartment my husband was living in when we were dating. Definitely not good if you have claustrophobia.




The room was stocked with some really good coffee, and I did make myself some decaf.




And for you ladies that hate Carnival's blow dryers, this hotel had the most powerful compact blow dryer I have ever used in my life. Seriously, I think I was able to blow dry my hair completely in a matter of minutes. One of these days, I need to look into buying one of these suckers.



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After settling in, we were starving and ready to get dinner. My plan originally was to go to this place called Storm Crow Tavern. It's a gaming bar/restaurant. While I enjoy playing games, between the two of us, my husband is the gamer. Since he humors me with letting me drag him along on all of these cruises, I like to be fair and look for things that interest him too when we travel. So usually it amounts to visiting comic book stores in the embarkation cities that we end up in, and this time around when doing a google search I came across Storm Crow Tavern. It was someplace I knew he would love. http://www.stormcrowtavern.com/


The only problem was that at this point I was sick of driving, and really didn't feel like dealing with having to get the car out of the garage. So we opted to find some place that we could walk to from the hotel.


Again, this place isn't located in the best part of Vancouver. Here's a picture from the front of the hotel, looking towards what I can only assume is the China town section of Vancouver:




There was a mall about a block in the other direction, so we decided to head that way. We walked in, and it appeared everything was closing. There was a gaming store that had it's doors shut, and my poor husband looked longingly into the windows. A few minutes later, one of the workers came out to lock up for the night. We asked him if he could recommend any place good to eat. After we told him that we had planned to go to Storm Crow, he informed us that there was another gaming restaurant within walking distance. Perfect! Seriously, I really like that these type of places are so popular in Canada.


The place was called Pizzeria Ludica, and it wasn't hard to find. http://www.ludica.ca/


We walked in, and the place was booming!






We were lucky that they were able to find us a small table in the corner, since there was only two of us.


After ordering drinks (a "Shirley's Dirty Mind" aka vodka, citrus soda and grenadine for myself, and a diet Coke for my husband), we picked out a game and started to play while waiting for food. I can't recall what it was called, but after the first round I figured out a good strategy and really kick my hubby's ass. Which generally does not happen, because I'm not very good with games. I think it was the alcohol. Perhaps I should drink more often when playing. :D




Our pasta dishes were really good. I had angel hair with a red sauce, and my husband had carbonara.



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We shared a chocolate mousse for desert which was rich and delicious.




After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night. Normally I have a hard time falling asleep the night before a cruise, but this time, I was exhausted and falling asleep was not a problem.


And before I knew it, it was morning and also my favorite kind of day: CRUISE DAY!!!


I got ready in a hurry, and with some prodding got the hubby up and dressed too so we could start the day. Breakfast was included with the price of the room. Not sure why, but I didn't take a good picture of the room where they serve it. This is part of the room, but there is a long table with seats where everyone ate as well.




Unlike at the hotel we had just stayed at in Seattle, this hotel's breakfast was delicious! There were not hot items like eggs, but the pastries all tasted homemade. I had saw a worker go into a room located right next to the breakfast room, and I saw a full kitchen through the doors, so I suspect they make the pastries themselves. Either that, or they buy them from a local pastry shop.




They even had a bowl full of beignets, which were delicious after sticking them in the microwave provided, to warm them up a bit.




Coffee and teas:




They also had oatmeal, yogurts w/ fruit toppings in little jars, juices, and fresh fruits:



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While my husband was finishing up with his breakfast (he is never in the same kind of rush that I am to get to the cruise port the morning of a cruise), I decided to check out the hotel's gift shop/aboriginal art gallery, located right off the breakfast room.




This place has gorgeous (and expensive) items for sale:










I saw some nice stuff there, particularly a nice shall that I would have bought, but it was about $145 USD (if I remember correctly), which was too much for me. Especially when I wanted to save money for souvenirs from Alaska. For this trip, I was particularly looking to find a small totem pole to purchase.

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After breakfast, we headed back to our room, collected our stuff, and checked out. I can't recall how long it took us to get to the port from the hotel, but I believe it was only about a 5-10 minute drive. The Alamo location where we were to drop the car off at had the same address as the cruise ship terminal, so I plugged "999 Canada Place" in the GPS, and off we went!


The cruise terminal was easy to find. There were signs every where. But Alamo...hmm, I wasn't seeing any signs for it. Nor signs for any other car rental place. Eventually I had to stop and ask a police man, and was told that the car rental drop-offs were located in the underground parking garage. So we had to drive around the block and come back again, and proceeded this time to drive into the underground parking garage.


As soon as we drove in, I saw a welcome sight!




Hmm...still no signs for Alamo though. And here was the guy ready to give us a ticket to park. I had to explain to him that we weren't parking, and that I needed to drop off the car at Alamo. He told me I needed to drive down to the deck below.


In the end, I ended up having to drive down at least a couple more decks and finally found the drop off area, which only had the tiniest of signs, and a person working from a podium in the middle of the parking garage. The whole process was very confusing and kind of nerve-wracking when you just want to drop off a rental.


Once we had that all squared away, we didn't have that far to walk to where they were picking up luggage. Now, I knew going in that we weren't the only ship embarking from the Vancouver cruise terminal that day. The Noordam was also there, so before the guy took our luggage I made sure he understood that we were on the Legend, and that he was taking luggage for that ship. He said yes, and proceeded to put our luggage on a card marked "Legend." I say this because I do know that there was a couple on the Noordam whose luggage ended up on the Legend, and they had to go their whole cruise without their luggage.


We got into the terminal at exactly 11 am.




The line was quite long to get past security, and we did wait for quite awhile.




One thing to note is that, as I mentioned, we had a check-in time of 11 am. However, no one in the terminal ever checked our documents to see our time slot. For the Legend, this was supposed to be its first sailing with staggered check-in. But I honestly have no idea why they didn't just wait until the ship got to Seattle to start this because clearly the Vancouver cruise terminal employees didn't get the memo. I would find out later that they apparently also did not get the memo about people being able to bring on one bottle of wine per person because apparently the confiscated everyone's wine, and people were not happy having to pick it up later on the ship. I think they didn't get it back until the next day.


Anyway, at least I had a good view while waiting!




I can't remember if it was before or after the security checkpoint, but at some point the line broke off and it was Legend one way, Noordam the other. Lol, I couldn't believe how many people didn't know what ship they were on! I suppose someone else must have booked the cruise for them. :D


Once we got through security, it was more lines and more waiting.




I've always had FTTF, but Carnival doesn't have FTTF when it's in Vancouver, so this was the first time having to deal with this long of a wait. Oh well, no worries. I had a nice conversation with a lady near us that was just as obsessed with Vera Bradly as I am.

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Eventually we got to the check-in desk, and the process was simple, as always. They gave us our S&S cards right away at check-in. Finally, on cruise #5, we were now gold.




The whole process from its start time of 11 am when we got in the line for security, to when we were checked in took 1 1/2 hours. But, at least we were able to get our cards and proceed directly to the gangway. I'm telling you, even at this point, the sight of that gangway is just as exciting to me!




A quick shot of the ship as I was walking down the gangway.




Seeing those first few glimpses of the ship is still just as exciting to me, too. It will never get old. I will always be in awe of just how beautiful these babies are.


Unfortunately this wasn't to be an embarkation where we would walk right into the atrium. I really do love that part of embarkation. But I did manage to snap a picture of my first glimpse of the atrium, which on the Legend still has the glory of the old, fancy ships of yesteryear (I'm not a fan of the more modern look of the Breeze or the Vista, at least not from what I have seen in photos).



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Since we had about an hour to wait for our room to be ready (FTTF has spoiled us in this respect, and remains my favorite part about it), we decided to head up to the lido to get lunch.




This was the first ship we've been on that has Chopsticks, so we decided to try it out. My husband got a table and I waited in line and got us both something to eat, so he wouldn't have to wait in line when I was done. I thought it was pretty good. Very much like a Chinese food place you can find in any mall's food court.




For desert I had to get the caramel cheesecake, which I love. It's so much better than the caramel cheesecake you can get at sea day brunch, which I find very dry. The chocolate desert I chose was inedible, however. It was weird and had a gelatin texture to it. Just not my thing.




After eating, we walked around the lido for a bit. It was weird to see the pool area covered, but it would remain this way the whole cruise, at least on this side.




The other side would remain open. Although I'm not even sure if both sides close or if it's just the one.



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The Serenity deck. I would see people from time to time during the cruise in the hot tubs. This wasn't something I would have even considered, personally. It actually felt good not having to pack a swim suit for once!




The Serenity bar area.




Finally, at 1:30 we checked and our room was ready. Now, a little background about the room we were in: I had originally booked 4148, which is an inside w/ French doors, and is between the lifeboats so you have a small view outside. I booked not that long after the Alaska sailings for 2017 were listed, way back in the beginning of 2016. I knew that this cruise was going to be an expensive one due to the prices of excursions, so I wanted to save some money by forgoing a balcony. I ended up booking 4148 at what I thought was a great price o $1,635. Figuring that we would spend at least another $1,500 on excursions, I felt that was just about the maximum that I wanted to pay in total for this trip.


About a month or so before the cruise I started second guessing myself on whether we really wanted to do a cruise to Alaska without a balcony. This year, by some miracle, we didn't end up owing when we filed our taxes, and actually got a decent refund. So I thought, "Gee, maybe I should switch to a balcony." But, to my disappointment, they were sold out.


Well, 6 days before our sail date, I got a call from Carnival. I had Carnival's number programmed in my phone from another time when they called me to tell me about a port change for a cruise I have booked in 2019, so I knew it was them calling. I got all excited, and sure enough, when I answered the phone it was someone calling me about an upsell to a balcony room!


She said that they had a regular balcony room on the 8th deck available for $500 more, and an extended balcony room on the same deck for $550 more. While I was talking to her I was bringing up the deck plans on my computer and saw that the extended balcony room was laid out sideways, meaning that the balcony would be even bigger than the other extended balcony rooms. So I absolutely jumped on that upsell, and we were now in room 8239 for a total price of $2,185!




I have no idea what this room would have went for back when I booked, but I did a mock booking for an extended balcony room in this same area for the first Alaska sailing of 2018 and the price was about $3,700. So I'm fairly certain we got a great deal.

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I don't mind having rooms that are laid out differently, and actually kind of like it. We had an L-shaped balcony room on the Conquest, and I really like the layout. This was was very similar, but without a second window.






Because of the layout, there are only two closets between the bathroom and the door to the balcony. But this was plenty of storage space for us.




That balcony though...wow! It was so much wider than the long balcony we had on the Conquest. Really, it was almost too much space.




The one downside to the room, and the reason why the balcony was so big, is that it's an accessible room. I would never, of course, book this type of room, but since we were upsold to it 6 days before sailing, obviously no one needed it. Now, I don't understand why people try to book this rooms, though. The shower is quite weird, and takes getting used to.






If you've never stayed in one of these rooms before, the shower is weird because there is no lip on the floor to contain the water in the shower area, so it flows throughout the whole bathroom. This didn't bode well for my OCD, and it took me a few days before I was able to just let the water flow freely without trying to contain it.

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I'm going to have to take a break from this review for a little while, maybe call it a night and continue tomorrow, but I do want to touch upon my only complaint about the cruise since it is related to the room. I thought that the housekeeping on this cruise was seriously lacking, and after talking to some other people on the same cruise, I am not the only one that thought the same. I understand having to make a request for robes, but we had to ask three times, and it took us two days before we got them. Also, we did not get turn down service the first day, and nothing that was supposed to be in our room when we arrived was there. We had to ask for a pen, room service menus, breakfast order cards, blue towels, and our gold pins, because none of these were provided automatically as they should have been.


But the worst thing that happened occurred on the first morning of the cruise. I had just taken a shower, and was about to walk out of the bathroom when I noticed something on the drain that runs along the doorway (to prevent water flowing out into the room). I thought it was just a piece of trash of some sort that must have been in the bathroom somewhere and got washed onto the drain. I picked it up and took a closer look...


It was a one inch piece of a used hypodermic needle with the needle part still attached, exposed, and bent at an angle. I do not have a picture. I thought about taking one, but honestly, it was not something I wanted to remember or ever have to look at again.


I was immediately sick to my stomach when I thought about the fact that I could have stepped on it with a bare foot, had I not noticed it. Imagine having to worry about contracting hepatitis C while on vacation? I was in a bit of shock for awhile and didn't know what to do, but eventually decided that I couldn't just throw it away in the waste basket. So I called guest services and asked them to send someone with a sharps container to collect it.


The head of housekeeping came almost immediately and apologized profusely. She promised that she would have the steward give the room a thorough cleaning to make sure there was nothing else from the previous occupants that was left over and missed. While I did appreciate the apology from her, it would have gone a long way if the steward himself made an effort to apologize. But not only did he not, we didn't see him again for the remainder of the cruise. I don't know, but this just didn't sit well with me. We've always had fantastic stewards, and this was the first cruise where I can't say the same. And it was the first time that I didn't tip extra on top of the auto gratuities (which I left alone).


In any case, this is the one and only complaint I have about the cruise. Everything else was amazing, and while this incident didn't sit well with me that first day, I shook it off and enjoyed the rest of the cruise, which was amazing!

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Loving your review! We were booked on this cruise but had to reschedule.



Sorry you had to reschedule! It ended up being a great one, with pretty fantastic weather, though cold at times. If you've never been to Alaska, I hope you got to reschedule to another one at a later date. It's definitely something everyone should consider doing at least once.



Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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I haven't been to Alaska since I was a child, so this is going to be very exciting to see!

Sorry to hear about the housekeeping issues you had. Surprised to see such an old television in the room. I expect that you didn't spend a lot of time in there anyways!

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I haven't been to Alaska since I was a child, so this is going to be very exciting to see!

Sorry to hear about the housekeeping issues you had. Surprised to see such an old television in the room. I expect that you didn't spend a lot of time in there anyways!


Apparently some of the rooms on the Legend do have the newer, flat TV's. At least that is what I heard from some of the other people on the same cruise. It wasn't a problem for us, though. I really don't mind as long as we do have a TV in the room. Anything is better than nothing. :)

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To continue on with reviewing our room, 8239, I absolutely loved the location. Being just one deck below the lido, it was so easy to leave the room and quickly grab something to eat for lunch or breakfast. We did eat a few meals in the room. One thing about Alaska cruises: you don't have to worry about chair hogs near the lido pool, but they are replaced with table hogs. Seriously, people would just camp out at tables in the buffet area for the whole day. Making it extremely hard to find a table to sit at when you want to eat. I found this very annoying. Thankfully it was easy to just take our food back to the room to eat. You can see in the next picture how close we were to the elevators and stairs. The door to our room was just to the right of the wall art. The elevators were to the left, and the stairs to the right.




While our room steward was lacking in making sure that we had everything in our room that we were supposed to, I had no complaints at all about the Fun Shops. The waters that I had ordered were delivered promptly on that first day, as well as the Bon Voyage cake that I ordered.




This was the first time I had ever ordered one of those cakes, and I did so simply because I wanted to try it. I got the small size since it was just my husband and I. It was very good, but honestly, even the small size ended up being a lot for just the two of us. I think we had a piece as a late night snack on a few occasions, but even then, there was almost a whole half of the cake that didn't get eaten by the end of the cruise. There's just so much else to eat that ordering a cake (except for a special occasion) is probably overkill. Unless I ever decide that I absolutely have to try the vanilla version, I probably won't buy one again.


Our room was on the starboard side, which was facing the cruise terminal on embarkation day. But we still had a pretty good view of the water and the mountains, even though it was a bit cloudy that day in Vancouver.




I spent a good amount of time before sail-a-way watching the sea planes land and take off. Not sure if that's something I will every be brave enough to do some day. I am still trying to get over my fears related to flying on large planes, so I'm not sure that tiny planes would be good for my anxiety.





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Some more pictures that I took from our balcony, while waiting for the muster drill and sail away:






Be forewarned, there will be a lot of pictures like the next one that I'm going to post. Of snow, snowy mountain tops, ice bergs...this is definitely not going to be your typical cruise review! I will admit, it did feel weird the whole time, often walking around deck with a jacket on. But hey, snow is so much prettier when I don't have to shovel it or drive in it!




Muster drill was outside on deck, and went pretty quickly. One good thing about doing a cold cruise is that you don't have to suffer in 90+ degree heat! The only other time I have ever done a muster drill that took place on deck was on the Conquest, sailing out of Ft Lauderdale, in July. At least one person near us fainted from the heat.


Promptly after muster drill, it was time to get this cruise started and say goodbye to Vancouver! Unfortunately, we didn't have any time to do sightseeing in Vancouver. I have heard that there is a lot to do in the city, and wouldn't mind coming back someday.



Edited by bakersdozen12

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I'm not one to want to participate in the sail away party on the lido, so I can't tell you what one is like on an Alaska cruise. I'm guessing the same as in the Caribbean, with lots of music and dancing. Perhaps just with more layers of clothing. I much prefer to walk around the decks, taking pictures and watching us sail away.




Sailing out of the Vancouver cruise port involves going under a bridge. I believe it's called the Lions Gate bridge, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong.






The sun came out just in time to make our sail away beautiful.




The obligatory "under the bridge" shot:



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One of my absolute favorite things to do on embarkation day is to explore the ship and take pictures. I haven't been cruising for long, and this is only the fourth ship I've been on (all in different classes), but I don't think this will ever get old for me. At least not as long as I'm on a new-to-me ship. So far, the Conquest is my favorite ship when it comes to how it was decorated, but I did like the Legend as well. I'm sure a lot of people would probably use the word "gaudy" to describe it, but I like it. Reminds me a lot of the over-the-top decorations in Vegas. Personally, I think Joe Farcus knew what he was doing.


The main theater, Follies Main Lounge, has sort of an old Shakespearean theater feel to it, which I loved. I thought it was the prettiest theater of any ship I have seen so far.


The entryway:




The stairs outside of the theater:




Inside the theater:




One thing I found different on this ship than on any other ship that I have been on is that the lounge used for the comedy acts is right below the main theater. It's called the Firebird Lounge, and it's located on deck 1.


The stairway leading down to that lounge:




The lounge itself. Definitely a nice size for the comedy shows. And holy "gaudy" decorations! (I still love it. ;) )



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Around the theater, on deck 3, is what they refer to as the Enchanted Forest Interior Promenade. It wraps around the theater at the front of the ship, and is really just a walkway with seating areas. But the way it's decorated is so cool. When I posted pictures of this on social media for my friends back home to see, one of them commented that she thought I was supposed to be on a cruise, not at an amusement park.






The atrium on the Legend is not one of my favorites, but at least the ship has a real atrium. I'm not sure how I feel about the direction that Carnival is going, with the Vista class ships having smaller atriums that many feel remove that "wow" factor from the ship. I'll find out soon enough when we sail on the Horizon next year, but in the meantime, I enjoyed the glam of the Legend's atrium and glass elevators.






I'm not a gambler, but the casino seem adequate, and the cigarette smoke wasn't that bad when walking through it.




Atlantis Lounge. The Legend doesn't have a Alchemy Bar, but I've heard this martini bar is almost as good. The drink menus were kind of cool, as they were back-lit. I didn't get a picture, but they are cool to check out if you are ever on the ship.



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For this cruise, we had Your Time Dining (YTD), which was located on the second level of Truffles Restaurant. Unlike with other ships, this one only has one MDR. We had such a good experience with YTD on the Conquest last year, that we wanted to try it again. And it didn't disappoint. By far, the best service we have is when we do YTD. We never have a problem getting a table for 2, and this time around, we were always able to get right in. One thing I noticed about this cruise to Alaska is that the MDR always seemed much more empty than on previous cruises. Even looking down at the tables for early or late seating, it just seemed very empty.


Oh, and I should mention, unlike on the Conquest, all of our tables for 2 were private. Meaning, we were never at a table that was just inches from the next table for 2. I really liked this about the Legend MDR.


The Legend does not have the American Table menus. The last time I had the old menus was on my first cruise in 2015, so it was nice going back for a change (though I do like the new menus too). For this first night, I had the heart of ice burg lettuce salad, but forgot to take a picture.


For my entree, I decided to try something that I haven't had before, and ordered the chicken a la grecque. The description didn't mention that it was a pasta dish, and to be honest, when I first saw it I was disappointed because I wasn't in the mood for pasta. But, it ended up being the best dish I had on the whole cruise, and the second best dish I have had on any of my cruises. It was simply delicious. I felt like this was a good start to the cruise, and it would prove to be the same during the rest of the cruise. The food (and the service) in the MDR was very, very good.




For desert, there wasn't anything that really stood out to me, so I decided to try the vanilla creme brulee, since I've never had it before. On Carnival, or any other restaurant. It was ok. I don't think that creme burlee is going to be my favorite desert going forward. Just not for me.




That night, we did go to the Welcome Aboard show. After you have been on so many cruises, it does get old. But, I really wanted to check out the CD, Jen Baxter, because I had read mixed reviews about her. My own personal opinion, is that she really wasn't very good. The CD really doesn't matter to me, as we rarely come into contact with him or her. We typically only see the CD before or during shows. But I like ones that are funny naturally and can ad lib like a good comedian. I didn't think she fit this bill. I found her to be not very genuine. But again, not a deal-breaker at all.


The Welcome Aboard show was the only thing we did that night. I'm usually pretty exhausted that first day, and find that we end up retiring to our room pretty early to settle in and unwind. The one nice thing about having a balcony is that when you are tired, you don't have to go far to enjoy a sunset, even if it's a bit obstructed. ;)



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