My boyfriend and I came back last week from our 8 day exotic western cruise on the Carnival Legend. The ports of call were Belize, Limon, Costa Rica, and Colon, Panama.
The Legend left out of Ft. Lauderdale and even though we got there early, the line was long for check in. We had booked a 1A guarantee and the luggage porter looked us up and gave us our cabin number for the tags. I was pleased we were upgraded to a 6A oceanview cabin. The check in line and security line moved quickly, but the worst part of embarkation was the waiting area where you get your sign and sail cards. As you pick up your sign cards, you are assigned a group number and when your number is called, that is when you board the ship. Each time a number was called, it was yelled out by an emabarkation agent and no one could hear it above the 600 or so voices talking at once in there. The port really needs to get a loudspeaker or a microphone to call out the number because once a number was called, no one could here exactly what the number was and people were all running to the agents at once to try and board and it was a mess.
Anyways.. we finally got on the ship( it is beautiful, clean and new!) and went to drop off our stuff in our cabin. It was nice sized with large window, two twin beds, and a small sitting area with a couch and a table. The room was decorated in a peach color . We were still on the Rivera deck as we would have been with a 1A, but we since the room had a window, we didn't care. The bathroom was spacious(for a ship) and everything appeared clean. We immediately went up to the Atlantis Lounge to speak with the Maitre'D to request a change to be changed to a table for two instead of one for six. If anyone wants to make a change to their dinner times or table size, I reccommend you do it ASAP after you board because we didn't have to wait long to speak with the Maitre'D at all, maybe five minutes. But when we left, there were about 60 people waiting and the wait time to speak to him was being averaged at an hour. After we got our romantic table for two assigned, we went up to the Unicorn cafe for lunch and everything was good, especially the cheeseburgers and sacher torte!
As we explored the ship after lunch, we began to notice that the average age of the passengers was around 65 or 70, that is fine and they were all nice, but we are both 25 so we were hoping for a younger crowd.
To avoid making this review too long, I will do a brief rundown on my observations based on my experience.
The dining room: The Truffles dining room is lovely and our table for two was on the balcony overlooking the first floor. We ate dinner here every night and found the food to be very good, better than on Truimph or the Sensation. The deserts were fabulous, especially the chocolate fudge cake and the baked alaska. I did not care for the chocolate flourless ckae, it was very bland and yuck! Our assistant waiter as great and provided wonderful service, but our waiter seemed to always be in a rush and before we were even finished with our dinner, he would bring the dessert menu(he did this with all his tables around us at late seating and we were always on time at dinner) and never asked us once how we like our food the whole week. I heard people say the Golden Fleece supper club had great service, but in my opinion and my sweetie's, we are already paying for the dining room food and if you are a young couple just starting out like us on a budget, we prefered to save our money for tours instead of paying $25pp for dinner.
The Lido Deck Unicorn cafe: We had breakfast up here everyday and even though it was the same thing everyday( omlette stations, bacon, toast, bagels, hash browns, yogurts, muffins, etc), it was very tasty. The lunch was always very good. There was a choice of the hamburger grill, sandwich/sub station, Asian food, deserts, hot lunch station(ham, mashed potatoes pork chops,etc), but the best station was always the "world cuisine of the day." I really enjoyed the jerk chicken, red beans and rice, and fried plantains for carribean day. Also, indian food day was very popular and the chicken tikka and vegetable samoosas(vegetable turnovers) were great. I tried the pizza twice and it was ok, it tasted just like the pizza on all the other carnival ships. The 24 hour yogurt stands were great. I found out that at 4pm on days at sea, a ice cream sundae station is set up on the lido deck(the end at the back of the boat near the children's pool) with hot fudge, carmel, sprinkles, oreos, cookies, m&m's, gummi bears, etc.
The cabin and cabin service: Our cabin stewardess always kept our cabin very clean and neat. We loved the fact that we were always able to watch the 6 pm evening news from any one of the 3 major US TV networks in our room. This made us feel informed of world events. Most nights, the satellite feeds stayed on past the evening news and one night, I stayed in the room to watch CSI after dinner, while he went to the casino.
The spa and gym: I found the gym to be very good and used the treadmill three times during the week. There are a variety of weight machines and free weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, etc. Robert and I also loved the hot tub/whirlpool that is in the middle of the gym in an atrium. I didn't buy any spa or salon service, but the prices for everything are lowered drastically on the port days, so if I would have gotten a massage or manicure, I would have gotten it on those days.
The shows and entertainment: I only went to two shows( Take II and the jazz review) and they were very good. I tried to make it to the late night comedians, but would fall asleep. Same goes for going to the disco. The one night we went to the Midnight Buffet(Gala), we popped into the disco and evern though there was music, it was empty. We heard it was empty every night, even though the ship was full. Maybe it was the lack of a younger crowd on board, or maybe everyone ate too much like us and would fall asleep stuffed full of food! The trivia was always fun, but activites were lacking on days at sea( it rained alot, so laying out time was limited!). We would play every trivia game, take every dance lesson, go to tea time( yummy!)and still find ourselves with nothing to do( we are not big casino,bingo, or card playing people). I'm glad I brought a book!
Ports of Call:
Belize: We went on the Stingray/Shark Alley tour with Carnival. A boat picks you up from the ship and from there we took a nice 30 or so minute ride out to Caye Caulker for a bathroom break and to pick up sardines for the stingrays( We got fitted for our snorkel gear on the way to Caye Caulker). We saw several dolphins on the way there and got to see Caye Golf Chapel or whatever it is called from a distance, very beautiful. The boat capt. and his crew were very nice and told us a little about Belize and it's history on our ride. After we left Caye Caluker, we took a 20 minute ride out to the barrier reef/shark ray alley. Now, I am pretty scared of stingrays and big fish so I was trying to get myself excited about getting in the water. When the boat capt. began to throw sardines in the water to attract the stingrays and sharks and big huge ones came and fish began to jump out of the water to get the sardines, I almost had a quiet heart attack. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and most everyone else was getting in the water and loving the experience. I got in the water and tried to swim around for a few minutes, but when the first stringray swam past my leg and I put my face in the water saw how huge it was and all the other huge fish swimming around me, I got back in the boat as soon as possible. My boyfriend and the tour guides tried to get me back in the water, but I decided to stay on the boat and watch everyone else snorkel. To my surprise, there were 2 other ladies and one man who were already back in the boat because they got scared like I did and we all just watched our significant others swim around. Pretty soon, a 7 year old boy came back on the boat because he got scared of the stingrays and large fish also. Now, my boyfriend swam out to the reef with the guides and said it was lovely, but the current there was strong. People swam around for about an hour or more and then we left for lunch on San Pedro. San Pedro was very beautiful, but small and lunch was a tasty barbeque chicken lunch buffet. I had hoped to go swimming on a beach in San Pedro, but while it is possible, there is high sea grass when you get in the water and that might not appeal to some. We were in San Pedro for 2 hours and we walked around the island and looked in some shops and checked our email for US$2.50 for 15 minutes. The last 30 minutes or so before our boat left San Pedro headed back to the ship, we just went back to the place we had lunch and bought a cold Coke and relaxed in the shade.
All in all, I think the Shark Ray Alley tour was worth it for $69 inlcuding lunch. I enjoyed the boat ride and getting to see Caye Caulker and San Pedro and I went because I wanted to spend time with my boyfriend and I didn't mind watching him snorkel for an hour. Now, if you are a big chicken like me about swimming with stingrays and big fish and want to spend time lying on a beach, then maybe think about taking the Carnival tour to Goff Caye (which I heard was lovely).
Limon ,Costa Rica: We ended up taking a local tour from the people under the big red tent at the end of the pier. There was just two of us, but we caw several other people from our ship looking at the tour price board under the red tent and we approached them and asked them if they wanted to go on a tour together to bring the price down a little. In the end we got another couple and a group of 8 to join our tour with us. We paid $40 per person to go the Tortugero Canals(including the boat ride), a tour of a del Monte bananna plantation, a stop to hold a monkey and sloth and take pictures(no extra cost), and a Limon City tour. We went in an air conditoned taxi van and our tour guide was Big Jim. We went on the Limon city tour first, and Big Jim gave us a history of the town and pointed out sites of interest and took us up to the highest point in the city so we could take pictures. Then we went to the canals. At the canals, Big Jim waited for us while we took the hour boat ride. The guide on the boat was great and gave us a history of the canals and stopped several times to point out monkeys, sloths, and birds. After the canals, we went to a Del Monte banana factory. Since it was Sunday, the workers were not there, but Big Jim knew the security guard and he let us in and Jim told us how the bananna growth cycle works and explained the whole process down to the shipping out. We got to see the machinery used to wash the banannas and walk through a row of bananna plants while Jim was explaining. After the plantation, we made a stop at his friend's house to hold a monkey and sloth so we could take pictures. All in all, it was an excellent tour and much cheaper than the Carnival tours considering all we did. I know that just the canals tour was around $70ish or so per person through Carnival. Also, for those of you who want to do shopping for local crafts or tee shirts, there is a little mini market at the end of the pier. After Big Jim dropped us off at the pier, we just walked into the little market(it is in a fenced off area in front of the cruise tourist welcome center) and browsed each vendors stall and bought costa rica tee shirts at $5 each. Also, for those of you who want to check your email, the internet access inside the cruise tourist welcome building is one dollar for an hour of internet access. Yes, it is very cheap and much better than paying $.75 a minute on the cruise.
Colon,Panama: We took a Panama City tour by bus through Carnival for $79pp including a delicious lunch at a clean, moden restaurant. A large airconditioned bus picks you up at the pier in Colon with an English speaking guide(Doris, she was fabulous!) for the 45 minute drive to Panama City. Doris spoke the whole way to PC, giving us a history of Panama, the social and political system, the canal and the American influence in Panama. Once in PC(it is a modern city, like Miami or Atlanta with skyscrapers and everything), we went to the old colonial part to see the Presidential palace, the National Theater, and the oldest Cathedral in the city. From there we drove through the financial and banking district to see the ruins of the ancient city burned to the ground by the pirate Henry Morgan. After that we went to have a great lunch of grilled chicken breast with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables at a nice restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After lunch, we headed to the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal to watch a very informative video presented by the canal authority and for photo ops. All in all, it was a great tour and I only heard good things from other people in our tour. Our tour guide Doris, did warn us to not walk around in Colon alone should we ever come back there and if we ever visited the duty free zone shops there, to take a taxi there and not try to walk there alone. Robert and I highly recommend this Panama City tour it you don't want to spend $125 to go on the other tours offered.
Overview of Legend: I had a great time on the Legend. The ship was beautiful, clean, and the food was good. Note: we did have VERY rough waters for 2 days. The ship was rocking so bad, some dancing numbers had to be cut out of the Jazz show for the dancer's safety and a woman lost her balance and cut her lip open on deck. Also, if you opt to have the tips taken off your sail and sign cards like we did to pay them cash, you have the option to do this everyday until 7am the last morning of your cruise. We went to the pursers desk to have the tips removed on the second day of the cruise and there was no line, the last night however, there were so many people trying to do that the line was huge! I hope my review was informative and not overly long or boring to read. I will try to answer any questions posted.
M. & R.