March 10-18, 2002
by Mary & Vincent Finelli
The Carnival Ships with their red and blue whale tail funnels are
distinctive, yet, this line was conceived so that "everyman"
would be able to afford cruising. Initially, from its humble
beginnings of just one old ship, Carnival line now boasts of over 19
mostly new ships (Spirit, Triumph, Pride, Legend, Victory,
Conquest, Glory, Holiday, Destiny, Ecstasy, Fantasy, Paradise,
Elation, Celebration, Inspiration, Sensation, Imagination,
Fascination, and the Jubilee, all in service) with more being
built and even more on the drawing boards. It has sixteen home
ports on the North American Continent, add Honolulu, HI to make
This was our third cruise on Carnival, having sailed on the Legend's
sister ship the Pride and on the Triumph. The
Spirit Class ships were designed so close to perfection that Carnival
has reproduced them in "Cookie Cutter" fashion, even across
company lines (Costa Atlantica is also one of this class). So, with its simplicity of purpose, Carnival has grown to become a
major cruise line to reckon with! Carnival Corporation now
includes the following prestigious lines: Cunard (England), Holland
America (Holland), Costa Cruises (Italy), Windstar Cruises (Tall Sail
Ships), and the Yachts of Seabourn. Carnival 's passengers
are mainly American and include all ages from toddlers to seniors, but
the majority are in their mid forties.
We met the serious and brilliant Captain Claudio Cupisti (Italy) on
the Pride in January 2001, when he spoke of the Legend,
being built in the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Helsinki, Finland and
noted he would soon leave the Pride and move on to Finland to
take command of the Legend, which was launched on August 14,
2002. We were happy to hear that soon he will return to Finland
to take command of the newest Carnival ship, the Miracle. Yet,
with all this recognition, he said his most impressive days on the
bridge were spent with two young passengers from the "Make a Wish
Foundation" whose dream was to see whales--a dream he was happy
to help make come true.
In Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, the Legend resembled her
sister ships on the outside; however, we were eager to see how
Designer Joe Farcus had made her different on the inside.
Even though security was heightened, we experienced no delays. We picked up our tickets on the pier, where our luggage was also
tagged and checked. It took a total of fifteen minutes. We
had wheel chair assistance all the way to the gangway: very
professional and very helpful. We arrived at 12:30 pm and were
on board in our stateroom by 1:00 pm. We checked on our dining
room assignments, with which we were pleased. It was table #127
near the entrance, so we were off to the Welcome Aboard Buffet and we
enjoyed the excellent pizza, our compliments to Executive Chef Craig
Salamone (more about this accomplished young man later).
Sister ships are wonderful, repeat passengers already feel at
home knowing the ship's layout. We were curious to see what Mr.
Farcus did with the decor. Taking a cue from her name, his
concept revolved around legendary heroes of all kinds: mythological,
medieval, crusaders, sports, film and music legends are all
represented. Farcus' signature is repetition and it was in
evidence here once again. AMPHORAE (pewter colored urns) are
everywhere, decorating balustrades, on balconies in the 10 Deck high
Lobby, as door knobs, and as lamp and chandelier bases. They are
of all sizes, some even large enough to hold people! Wide dark
cherry wood moldings frame window, doors, ceilings and sometimes
double rows of these maroon borders greet passengers with the Etruscan
Key Symbol embossed in gold row upon row.
This ship does not show the traditional nautical colors.
is more somber (maroon, gold and browns), but just as richly decorated
as other Carnival ships. We feel that the lack of neon is good!
Riviera Deck 1 forward has the dazzling Firebird Lounge.
This lounge is named after the clever seamstress Maryushka, who was
turned into a Firebird by the evil sorcerer Kaschei, after she had
spurned him. She still sheds her bright feathers to this day,
which are magically seen only by lovers of beauty. This room has
firebirds everywhere: on sofas, chairs, carpeting, walls, ceilings,
etc. On the walls are huge red lacquered discs framing pictures of
figures strolling through idyllic gardens. It is quite bright: a feast
of colors with a prevalence of red and gold!
Midship, all the way to the aft elevators, there are inside and
oceanview staterooms. Toward aft there is the first level of the
Medusa's Lair, a night club, and aft is the Galley.
Promenade Deck 2 forward holds the Follies Theater which
recalls the palatial movie "palaces" of the Roaring
Twenties. Its sparkling draped curtain and the repetition of the
"Blazing Sun Face" image are very effective giving opulence
to this huge room. Go early to shows because there are some poor
seats, since six pillars block the view of the stage, as do wide
wooden balustrades and the balcony design.
Just outside the theater toward midship is Satchmo's Club (Named
after Louis Armstrong, America's jazz trumpet legend). The
knotty pine benches, wrought iron bar stools and tables are
reminiscent of New Orleans, birth place of Jazz. Next door
is the Dream Team Bar giving homage to many sports heroes (legends)
from Juan Fangio to Jackie Robinson, Babe Zaharias, Wilma Rudolph and
to Bart Starr. Then, there is the Casino Club Merlin named for
King Arthur's wizard and decorated with Crusading Knights and Monastic
Arches. Perhaps the lesser decorated of all public rooms, it
still has many slots and gaming tables.
Midship is the Legend Lobby with the Purser's and Shore Excursion
Desks. We nicknamed it "The 1001 Urns Lobby." Here are the black pleated silk lamp shades and some of
the legendary urn chandeliers with spokes terminating in purple
speckled crystal flowers. These lamps and chandeliers are found
on several decks in great numbers--repetition, repetition. Adjacent to the Legend Lobby there is a beautiful bronze sculpture
representing bears catching salmon swimming upstream. This is
our favorite art work on the ship. It is a gift of the Kvaerner
Masa Shipyard workers. Opposite the three birdcage elevators is
a four deck tall stylized painted mural of the "Colossus" of
Rhodes. A corridor leads back to the Atlantis Lounge (named for
the mythical lost continent) and the entrance to the second level of
Medusa's Lair, a night club displaying a dozen or more huge Medusa
heads with glowing eyes and writhing snakes for hair. The bar
stools are on snake bases, iridescent wrought iron chairs, marble bars
and tables complete this club.
Truffles Restaurant is aft with its subdued ambiance for Carnival,
until overhead lights dim and flashing red lights come on and even the
chandeliers blink, while waiters lead passengers in a Conga Line to
shouts of "Olè, Olè" and "Hot, Hot, Hot." The decorations are mainly black and beige marble squares arranged in
a checkerboard pattern and many arched china cabinets with opalescent
glass fronts holding matched sets of china. For ceiling fixtures
aqua and blue blown glass vials are arranged in ovals. Finally,
the copper pillars make this room unique. However, if you are
looking for the Promenade on this deck--forget it--the outside
promenade is located upstairs on Deck 3.
Atlantic Deck 3 forward has the Follies balcony and next to
its entrances are the entrances to the Enchanted Forest (recalling
many fairy tales of old). Huge tree trunks line its curved walk
where large portholes overlook the sea. There are many glass
tables with cross sections of tree trunks visibly displaying their
annual growth rings. Fittingly, this leads to the staircase in
the prow which goes up to the Gigabytes Arcade (Deck 4) and the Noah's
Ark Playroom (Deck 5). This area is one of the best kept secrets
of the Spirit Class ships; it's great for strolling on rainy sea days,
reading or just sitting quietly and conversing.
Going toward midship is the Chapel (nice stain glass windows) and
the Holmes Library with its bright red leather seats and too many faux
books. This is also the internet area with many computer
terminals (costs are $3.95 for a one time set up charge and $0.75 per
minute to surf the net). Hollywood Blvd. leads to midship and an
interesting Life Magazine photo from 1943 of MGM's Louis B.
Mayer and his "stable" of stars. This provides a great
guessing game for cruisers: they sit across from it, reminisce and try
to identify the famous actors. Next is Billie's Piano Bar, named
for Billie Holiday, the jazz singer with perfect phrasing, who
recorded over 200 songs in a ten year period.
Rodeo Drive leads to the on board shops (nice selections), the
Photo Gallery and going aft is the Odyssey Lounge. Just off this
lounge is the entrance to the Round Table Room where two large murals
depict the flower of knighthood, Renaissance lute players and laurel
crowned youths. All the way aft is the balcony of Truffles
Main Deck 4 forward is the Follies Balcony and the rest of
the deck is staterooms.
Upper Deck 5, Empress Deck 6, Veranda Deck 7 and Panorama Deck 8
are all staterooms.
Lido Deck 9, Sun Deck 10 and Sports Deck 11 are all public
Deck 9 forward is the well equipped gymnasium and Health Spa
with separate Steam & Sauna rooms for ladies and men. The
corridor has the familiar Greco-Roman Black and Copper murals
depicting athletes. There is also an excellent Jacuzzi, which,
like this whole area is quite private from 7 to 9 am; go early and
it's all yours.
Midship are two outdoor pools and spas, the Camelot and the Avalon,
with medieval warriors standing guard over them. Captain Cupisti
calls these the best sculptures on board. The Camelot pool has a
sliding Sky Dome, very convenient on rainy days. Toward aft is
the Unicorn Cafe (named after the legendary equine with the single
horn: the symbol of power and purity). The food court is nicely
divided to curtail lines; there are separate pizza (excellent), salad,
entree and dessert stations, which make this area easy to navigate. There is a huge suspended blown glass sculpture/chandelier in a chapel
like setting. There are portraits of medieval knights and ladies
everywhere. All the way aft is the third pool with spa, the
Sun Deck 10 holds the second floor of the spa and gymnasium,
mid ship is the Golden Fleece (named for the mythical ship of Jason
and the Argonauts); this upscale restaurant has a cover charge of $25,
but the menu is worth it: Stone crabs, lobster, 10 oz. veal chop, all
with great ambiance). Aft is the open deck area with a giant
Sports Deck 11 holds the jogging track, the Golden Fleece's
Balcony, the Kid's Pool and the giant Water Slide Entrance (great fun
for both adults and children).
Sky Deck 12, at the very top of the ship is an area devoted
only to sun bathing.
The Legend is a well equipped and beautifully designed ship with
careful thought given to every detail and always with the passenger in
Stateroom #7260 is the same room we occupied on the Pride, so we know
it well. It is wheel chair accessible and has a triple long
balcony. It has a huge bathroom with shower, all done in sea
blue tiles. There is a king size bed, double wardrobe, desk/vanity,
refrigerator, personal safe, bar, table and two upholstered chairs. The decor is bright orange, red and beige and two numbered prints of
the legendary Diana the huntress. Our stewardess, Linda was the best!
FOOD & SERVICE
The service under Hotel Manager Carlos Alfonso, we are happy to
report, is top notch. Carlos is friendly, experienced, and
knowledgeable about the service industry. His feels the
passenger must be accommodated, and he has trained his crew to be
happy to do so. He believes the Carnival employees programs are
what makes for low personnel turnover and therefore good service. Lots of smiles and a willingness to serve are what make the "Fun
Ship's" motto "We offer vacations for the everyman."
come true. Carlos keeps an eye on passenger "Comment
Cards" and attempts to incorporate as many suggestions as
possible, such as the new miniaturized Carnival Caper daily paper,
small enough to fold neatly into a pocket, thus easily accessible to
the cruisers whenever needed.
The food is A-one under the direction of Executive Chef Craig
Salamone. He is a detail man and the food shows it in the
careful cooking and interesting plating. It not only looks
appetizing, it is delicious. Up in the Unicorn the pizza was
terrific with a light crust (Chef Craig said, "it is all in the proofing
of the dough"). Whatever it is, this was great pizza!
Try the one with goat cheese and mushroom; it's 4 stars****. There is also an ice cream station, where Vincent could be found
daily. An insider's tip is if it looks too soft--press it again
and it'll be solid, since the Caribbean heat can get to the first inch
or so of the dispenser.
Truffles Restaurant (named for the undisputed King of the fungi
family), under the watchful eye of Chef Craig, has some very inspired
offerings. Breakfast from room service was always on time and fresh,
but limited to continental. In the Unicorn or Truffles,
breakfast can be as varied as the stomach can handle: Express
Breakfast is juice, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and beverage (coffee,
espresso, cappuccino, tea, hot chocolate or milk). The buffet
has cereals, yogurts, fresh fruits, oatmeal, cream of wheat, eggs any
way (from individualized omelets to eggs Benedict), pancakes, French
toast, Lox "N" Bagels w/cream cheese, and a myriad of fresh
breads including the following: Danish, croissants, muffins, rolls or
toast (with various jams and jellies).
Stagger away from this meal, and start contemplating lunch.
Lunch at Truffles has five or six main course offerings: oven fresh
focaccia, fish 'n' chips, barbecued baby back ribs,
Neptune's salad, trout Almondine, Philly cheese steak sandwich,
chicken Parmigiana and save the waistline Nautica Selections of
salads, broiled fish or meat all reduced calorie or sugar free. The most popular place to eat on board is the Unicorn--buffet
style dining attracts cruisers!
Dinner in the Truffles Dining Room was a pleasure.
included the following: Fried Calamari, Gaspacho, Escargot, Crema di
Funghi Selvatici (wild mushroom soup), and cold soups or fresh fruit
plates. Pastas could also be ordered as "starters";
thus, a smaller portion for sampling would arrive: try the pappardelle
w/langostinos (flat noodles with tiny lobster), Bigoli alla Carnival,
or the Farfalle w/turkey or even Lasagna Bolognese. This chef
knows his pasta!
Carlos Alfonso stated that Carnival has aimed for the top in
culinary achievements and is now on a par with other lines. We agree, especially with entrees like steamed king crab legs,
Vin, Roast veal w/mushrooms, Grilled Rock Cornish hens w/blackberry
salsa, Grilled Black Tiger Jumbo Shrimp, fillet Mignon, and last, but
not least, Prime Rib of Beef.
Now, if dinner didn't do you in, the desserts may.
evenings soufflés were available, or how about a Passion Fruit and
Lime Parfait? There's also Tiramisu, Bread Pudding (this was
definitely a culinary achievement: hot, light, and fluffy w/vanilla
sauce) or just go for it with Pecan Pie! Carnival has come a
long way and should be proud. Our compliments to Chef Salamone
and his hard working staff.
SERVICE on board under Carlos is excellent.
room staff is led by Maitre d' Paul Mecia, handsome and friendly, and
the two beautiful and gracious hostesses: Viera and Catalina. They were sweet and helpful.
Our waiter I. Nyoman and his
assistant Gusti were both from Bali, Indonesia and they made us want
to break out into a song from SOUTH PACIFIC, "Bali High." We now have a burning desire to visit Bali after meeting these two
Good Will Ambassadors.
Of course we cannot forget Angela of the Purser's office, who was
helpful in many ways, and our old friend Michael Laundry, who was
Beverage manager on this sailing, but is working towards hotel
manager. We want to mention the very efficient Albino Aliota and
Chief Plumber Manuel, who made rapid repairs in our bathroom. Thanks.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES
Cruise Director Brett Alans has fun and games down to a science. There were Trivia (Vincent won a medal), Bingo, Exercises, Crafts (The
Round Table Room was always packed with both men and women making
interesting gadgets and apparel). The shows were the typical
fare, but by far the best of the week was "Jazz Hot" where
singers Nadine Holloway, Karina Wright, and David Harvey were
wonderful; however, Eric Hawthorne's voice was warm and mellow and
showed a huge range from baritone to tenor--Bravo.
There was plenty of passenger participation and Brett's magic show
was appreciated. There is something for everyone and all ages
including Camp Carnival for the children.
PORTS OF CALL
Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale: Monday, Depart 4:00
Day at sea: Tuesday
Belize City, Belize: Wednesday, Arrive 7:00 am;
Depart 4:00 pm.
Tendering to port starts 7:45 am. Some of the excursions
available: Altun Ha & Belize City Tour (4.5 hours, $43), is a
visit to an important ancient Mayan civilization site and a tour of
the city; Baboon Sanctuary & Belize City Tour (4.5 hours, $45) is
a trip to a Baboon Sanctuary and a tour of the city; Shark/Ray Alley
Snorkel (7 hours, $69), a very popular snorkeling site along the
barrier reef where stingrays and Nurse sharks can be seen; Cave Tubing
& Rain Forest Exploration (6.5 hours, $85), suitable for able body
participants. Shopping for local crafts, clothing, jewelry and
liquors is available at the Belize Tourism Village.
Day at sea: Thursday
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica: Friday, Arrive
Noon; Depart 7:00 pm
Some of the tours available: Aerial Tram Tour (6 hours, $109), an
eco-tourism sightseeing tour through the canopy of the rain forest;
Coastal Highlights Drive (3.5 hours, $ 48), a guided motor coach tour
through the countryside with visit to Bananito, a banana plantation
village built by the Dole Fruit Company.
Colon, Panama: Saturday, Arrive 7:00 am;
Depart 4:00 pm
Designated as a Duty Free Zone in 1953, shopping is great here. Some of the tours available:
Portobelo & Gatun Locks (5.5
hours, $69), trip by bus to the historic town, fortress and visit to
the Gatun locks of the Canal; Panama Canal Tour (7 hours, $165), a
transit of the Canal from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Sea on a
boat; Two Oceans by Railroad (5 hours, $125), a train ride from the
Atlantic to the Pacific along the Canal and Gatun Lake.
Days at sea: Sunday and Monday
Actually Captain Cupisti debarked in Panama to attend a conference. Staff Captain Vincenzo Alcaras took over; it was such a smooth
transition, that many passengers never noted it. Debarkation was
orderly and painless. We were through customs and passport check and
outside by 8:45 am. Nice work.
1. Please reserve the last row of seats in the Follies Theater for
wheel chair passengers.
2. Filter out excess chlorine in the water to improve taste of
juices, coffee and tea, etc.
3. Establish a repeaters program with mailings and recognition.
Our third cruise on Carnival has been a very good one.
were very pleased both with the ship and the itinerary. The food
was excellent, greatly improved from the previous cruises. We'll
look forward to cruising with Carnival line again, probably on the new
ships which will be launched in the near future; maybe we'll see Capt.
Cupisti on the Miracle.
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