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alansfreed

Legend of the Seas - 6/13/04 Review!

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DAY 1

 

This was our fourth cruise, and our first out of San Diego. We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we breezed through security, both in Pittsburgh and San Diego.

 

Our flight arrived in San Diego at around 11:00 a.m., and we were on the ship before noon! We were amazed at how quickly and smoothly the boarding process went. It took us a bit of time to find the Royal Caribbean transfer location at the airport. The two ladies in charge of getting people onto the buses were hanging around outside the airport, in a fairly non-obvious location. We wound up at the wrong side of the road before finally spotting them.

 

But once we got on the bus and to the cruise ship terminal, things went amazingly smoothly, which is somewhat ironic when you think about it. In Miami, Royal Caribbean has their very own terminal, which you would think would be very efficient. It always takes FOREVER to get onto the ship in Miami, and getting baggage afterwards is always a nightmare.

 

In San Diego, the terminal is shared by cruise lines, and has a warehouse feel to it. The Royal Caribbean representatives stand at little makeshift booths, armed with laptop computers. We had no line to speak of, and we were whisked right onto the ship! When we returned, everyone’s luggage was spread out over a large floor area (arranged by color coded tags, so it was easy to find). In Miami, you wait for the luggage to come off an airport-style conveyor belt, and it takes an eternity!

 

When we got to our room, my wife and I unanimously declared that it kicked major butt, considering we got a VERY nice upgrade! We had paid for an oceanview room on Deck 3, but were upgraded to an amazing balcony on Deck 8, in the very back of the ship, in the middle. We were definitely spoiled by the room, and we’ll definitely have a hard time going back to anything less, which I’m sure the folks at Royal Caribbean are counting on!

 

While we were admiring the view from the top of the ship, I spotted someone on their balcony, and surmised that it might be a fellow Cruise Critic poster, so I yelled to him, “Are you Mcarnett!?” To which he responded, “Huh?!” I was about to slink back inside, or simply throw myself overboard to avoid the embarrassment, but after a moment, we concluded that we indeed knew each other from the boards here.

 

We got together with Mike and Tina (Suziehmkr) for a get-together at the Viking Crown Lounge later in the afternoon. We had a good time putting faces to the typing, and we wondered out loud who “Drunkalot” was (he had posted several messages before the trip). My wife surmised that he could actually be a doctor (“Dr. Unkalot”) as opposed to someone who imbibes frequently. In any case, sorry we missed out on meeting Greg!

 

We got bits and pieces of our luggage delivered to the room throughout the day. It was later in the evening before the last suitcase arrived. This wasn’t a big deal at all to us, so long as they didn’t mind us showing up at dinner in shorts. The older couple next door to us seemed a bit upset since they had some sort of critical medications packed away. Not the best planning on their part, perhaps.

 

At dinner, we met our tablemates, and they were absolutely wonderful. We were all relatively the same age, although at 36 we determined that I was the “old geezer” of the crew. We had a great time getting to know both couples, and hope that we’ll all keep in touch.

 

DAY 2 – AT SEA

 

The first day of the trip was at sea. It was quite cold and windy for much of Monday, but the skies finally cleared and it got nice & sunny toward the middle of the afternoon. We met all sorts of new people, spanning geographical locations from as far away as California, to entirely different parts of California!

 

Not that I have anything against people from California… we’re just used to meeting people from all over the world on trips, and I can’t imagine that there were more than 25% of the people on this trip who weren’t from CA. I can only recall meeting one couple from overseas!

 

DAY 3 – CABO SAN LUCAS

 

This was definitely my favorite port. I’m an avid photography buff, and Cabo is just beautiful. I participate in a geeky sport called “Geocaching” (http://www.geocaching.com), which involves finding hidden “treasures” by using Global Positioning Satellite receivers. Yes, it’s geeky, but it’s a lot of fun, and I had identified a couple caches ahead of time that had been hidden in Cabo.

 

This gave me reason to hike across to the other side of the beach, and up along the coastline behind Lover’s Beach (and straight up a rocky hillside to claim the cache). It was a wonderful walk on a stunningly beautiful beach! My wife and I ate at Cabo Wabo, which is Sammy Hagar’s alcohol-fueled fun spot. We also spotted Brad Pitt’s personal boat at the marina. This news, combined with intense sunshine, caused several women on the ship to melt into a puddle on the ship.

 

The only downside of Cabo was the extremely annoying vendors that basically attached themselves to our legs as we tried to escape the dock area (there is no cruise ship dock; we were tendered here, by the way). It was impossible to stand in one spot and swing our arms around without knocking over at least two people, either selling time shares or offering taxi rides.

 

It’s apparently highly unusual for anyone to walk anywhere in Mexico. The cab drivers looked at us as though we were completely insane (“muy mucho loco,” I suppose) as we turned down their offers. I like to walk. Honest!

 

DAY 4 – MAZATLAN

 

The town itself was much more industrialized than I had anticipated. It didn’t have the same charm as Cabo. My wife and I headed out together to find another Geocache, which was hidden at Faro de Mazatlan, the “world's tallest natural lighthouse.” It was hovering around 100 outside, so perhaps we were loco for not taking a cab, but this was another big highlight of our trip for me.

 

We walked nearly 2 miles to reach the foot of the mountain, and we took a trail up to the top. The cache site itself (an item hidden under a rock) was about midway up the hill, but I HAD to get the rest of the way to the top. It was a really neat trip, and there was a building at the top where they sold drinks.

 

 

DAY 5 – PUERTO VALLARTA

 

The ship parked, almost literally, in a Wal-Mart parking lot, so we felt right at home.

 

This was the only day we took an excursion. We took the “Off the beaten track” tour, and it was a nice change of pace. We boarded a van with about a dozen people, and headed to several sites in the city. We explored Casa Kimberley, a villa once owned by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. We enjoyed a bite to eat at a small roadside restaurant called Agua Hile (tacos were $1, Pepsi was free!).

 

We also toured a cathedral, and spent a little time in the shopping district before heading back to the ship. And we encountered one of the most annoying tourists in history on the trip. One of the women in our van had “blithering disease.” This is a condition where there is no filter between the mouth and the brain, and anything the brain thinks automatically gets routed through the mouth without much processing at all.

 

This lady would fire off a random question to our van driver, and after a while he just started answering “Si!” to whatever question she was asking. He, and the rest of us, eventually managed to tune her out entirely after a while.

 

One of the most interesting shore excursions we heard about was the “Canopy Tour.” It sounded like a blast, and involved whizzing along a series of ziplines in the jungle. People told us it was pricey, but well worth it. Had we known about this, we probably wouldn’t have spent quite as much time at Wal-Mart!

 

The ship stayed at Puerto Vallarta until 11:00, and at about that time we had quite the thunderstorm. The lightning was really dramatic as it streaked across the sky! Several of us spent that time in the hot tub, debating what the chances were that we were all about to be electrocuted. In case you were wondering, I didn’t die.

 

 

DAY 6/7

 

Our last two full days were at sea as we headed back to San Diego. It seemed like there weren’t quite as many activities as we might have liked, considering we were stuck on the ship. I’m not sure what kind of activity I might have wanted to see that wasn’t available, but I did actually find myself a little bored at times, which is nearly impossible on a cruise! And having nothing to do was actually somewhat welcome, really.

 

I accomplished my goal of making it up the rock climbing wall (twice!), and I spent a lot of time shooting photos and enjoying the pool.

 

 

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

 

Like I said earlier, we found the port of San Diego to be a great experience for boarding and leaving. That was wonderful.

 

We thought the entertainment was decent, although not as good as we had it on the Voyager a few years ago. It seems like Royal Caribbean puts a lot of effort into entertainment on the Voyager class ships, and not as much on smaller ones, or on shorter trips. When we went on Majesty last year for a 5-night trip, we thought the entertainment was pretty poor, with a lot of lip-syncing, etc. At least this time, much of the music was live, and there was a good orchestra etc.

 

We also enjoyed a juggler one night, and an adult comedy show late another night. We attended the adult comedian show, and I’m sure it was very funny. I laughed a LOT, but it was probably as the result of the huge quantity of alcohol I had consumed. I also have nice pictures of the midnight buffet, but I admit I have very little recollection of it…

 

Anyway, we really enjoyed this trip, and give it Two Thumbs Up. Feel free to browse a sampling of my photos here (be glad I didn’t post all 1,300!):

 

http://www.thefreeds.com/misc/legend

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Alan,

 

Excellent! I love your take on things! We had booked an excursion in every port. If we ever make it back to Cabo, we will definitely do it on our own. We didn't see very much of it. Oh! and I would have had a 2nd Waborita! LOL

 

Smiles - Tina

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Great review! Any tips for using a GPS on the Mexican Riviera cruise? I said on a post a while back that I wanted to be just like you on the top deck with a GPS!

 

I ordered the Etrex Legend online last night and I bought the "GPS for Dummies" book today. I only know what I've read so far. Did you find maps for the area before you went?

 

Thanks for any info/advice you can give me.

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Ah! Alan would have you believe that he is a "geek" - but he fools you. Nice try Alan! You are NOT a geek! I am jealous of your photography ability too!! hee hee

 

Everyone needs to check out the photos on Alan's site listed in his post. Fabulous photos!!

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Alan,

 

Very enjoyable reading. I did something that I have never done on all our previous cruises. On the second to the last day I actually watched the whole "Belly flopping" contest!

 

I'm glad that you all enjoyed your cruise as much as we did ours on the 6th.

 

And boy, what an upgrade! Congratulations.

 

And thanks for the good review of our port. We do like it and find it very easy to navigate. I'm just a little fearful that with the explosion of more cruise ships visiting that it might outgrow itself and that would be a pity, as for years it was underutilized. Guess you can't keep a good thing a secret for long.

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Did Alan mention that he was IN the belly flop contest? Or was that a part that you had to cut out Alan? ;)

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Great review! Any tips for using a GPS on the Mexican Riviera cruise?

 

Hey! Glad you found this post! I really enjoyed using the GPS on the trip, especially since the Legend has built-in mapping! On the map page, you can measure distance, so you can move the pointer and see how far offshore the ship is... I found that interesting.

 

I also made a bit of a game out of attempting to pre-mark the ports of call ahead of time to see how close I could come to the actual coordinates. For example, I marked the tender pier in Cabo, and came within 75' when we arrived; I was about 200' off the mark in Mazatlan, and about 500' off in Puerto Vallarta. Pretty good, I thought!

 

Since we had a nice balcony room, I was able to keep the GPS outside all day/night, and I tracked most of the trip home with it. I did it similarly for the plane ride home -- it was interesting to be able to see what states we were flying over, along with airspeed, altitude, etc.!

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Here are some GPS points of interest I marked for this cruise:

 

Cabo's Tender Pier: N22 52.830 W109 54.510

Cabo Wabo: N22 53.035 W109 54.752

Mazatlan Pier: N23 11.600 W106 24.850

El Faro (natural lighthouse in Mazatlan): N23 10.654 W106 25.655

Senor Frog's of Mazatlan: N23 13.730 W106 25.841

Puerto Vallarta's Pier: N20 39.241 W105 14.527

 

As far as another "tip" for using the GPS on the trip... invest in some rechargeable batteries! I alternated rechargeables the whole time, rather than buying a ton of AA's. The rechargeable batteries are a great investment for a GPS receiver!

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Did Alan mention that he was IN the belly flop contest? Or was that a part that you had to cut out Alan? ;)

 

Heh... my original review had all SORTS of extra stuff :) My belly flop attempt made the cruise tape, not to mention my cross-dressing experience in the Quest game.

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We completely MISSED the Quest game. I didn't even see it on the Compass!! Bummer! I saw your photos though! Too funny!

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