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Copyright © 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman

Carnival Legend
8-Night Southern Caribbean
November 10, 2002

by Paul Therault

Round Trip: Ft. Lauderdale
Ports: Martinique, St. Martin, Barbados

I arrived at Ft. Lauderdale airport on Sunday to a mass of cruise-ship passengers attempting to get home. Lines were extremely long. Hope of improvement in the spring when a new terminal opens.

Picked up luggage at 11:30 AM and waited until 2 PM for Carnival bus. I took a cab. $15 + tip since the lines for port security were very long. Problem here for buses also. I took this as a reason. Really, Ft. Lauderdale needs help. There were six ships in port. I was instructed to mail transfer coupon to  Carnival for return of bus transfer cost.

The check-in lines were long but moved quickly. Arrived at my stateroom and found it absolutely spotless. Assorted clothes and hanging panties were in the closet left by the former passenger. I promptly called the purser who had them removed within 15 minutes. I presumed my stewardess was going to be extremely inept but come to find out Carnival uses the stewards and stewardesses to move luggage and the assistants were cleaning cabins. I presume this policy is due to the fact that may passenger complained that their luggage arrived at their cabin door after the ship sailed. My luggage arrived 1/2 hour after I checked in.

My stateroom was the regular 188 sq. ft. with an additional small 40 sq. ft. balcony with chair, small table, and lounger. The room had the usual three floor to ceiling closets, one with shelves. One door had a floor to ceiling mirror. Had room for luggage in closets and under beds. The dresser had a large mirror with chair and five good size drawers. A 20" TV was above the refrigerator which was locked. Many passengers do not know there is a refrigerator inside the locked door and they must ask the steward to unlock it. There is a charge for the liquor, soft drinks, and candy. There were additional doors with shelves to the right of the refrigerator.

The bath was a good size with shelves on each side of the mirror and below the sink. There was a swivel make-up mirror that was mounted on the side of the main mirror. The shower had a curtain (ideal to keep mildew to a minimum). The shower was 65" X 69." Great size. There was a dispenser for shower soap and one for shampoo and a bathroom dish filled with a couple of razors, mints, shampoos, liquid hand soap, and other assorted items. There was a hair dryer in the top drawer of the dresser. The cabin had an adjustable-height coffee table and a pull-out sofa bed.

Seems like Carnival has a new policy that all complaints receive a call-back from the purser's office to see if the problem was rectified. Nice touch. 

There is a self-service laundry (maybe more than one), ironing board and iron on this ship. There are no soda vending machines or self-serve ice-machines. I was told the CDC required too much maintenance for the machines to justify the placement. Now one must call room service which results in a tip. But what the heck, you're on vacation. Ice buckets in the cabin are filled twice daily.

I sailed this ship mainly to see what architect Joe Farcus has designed with his sometimes wicked imagination. I must admit the ship is quite elegant with browns and twinkle lights (they do not twinkle) that do not flash or change colors. Mr. Farcus has a theme for all his ships. The Legend celebrates the world's great legends and historical figures. Quite a change from his design of the Pride, which the Greek theme was a bit overdone. The ship was extremely interesting and quite a hoot. Especially the 20 foot David statue at the top of the atrium. Another reason I wanted so much to sail this ship was to see and enjoy the antics of the greatest cruise director in the world, John Heald. Sad to say he was on holiday in London. The new cruise director was average. Great singer and entertainer but no where near as witty as Mr. Heald.

Carnival apparently has gone back to the Caribbean style of music at the main pool. Apparently again due to passenger input (comment cards). The first production show was very professional as with all Carnival presentations but lacked imagination. Later in the week, the second production show was a fabulous million dollar production. Same as on the Pride. The first show was OK and the second the greatest.

As with all three of the Spirit Class ships, the design of the public areas makes for easy traffic movement and less "wandering/lost time." Only time crowds were noticed were (as usual) before and after dinner and getting elevators when passengers were coming back from shore tours.

Although Joe Farcus has an unlimited budget to work with, one can see he is frugal. Although the ship may look expensive, it is not. The Murano Glass vases look like leftovers from the Costa Atlantica (whose displays were extraordinary). Things that appear as bronze or other metals are really plastic.

There are all kinds and types of entertainment venues on the "fun" ship. Even in the casino Dougie Trask, who was transferred from the Pride, sings with sideman and his henchmen the singing and dancing waiters. Have to hear to believe.

The casino is initiating a new Ocean Players Club Slot System where you can earn "points" for slot play. This is a separate system from the old (still in place) Players Club for table games. Not to get everyone too excited, one must play slots many hours every day to accumulate the 500 ocean points average per day to pay for your next cruise. So for every $10 you play (including credits), you earn 8 tokens or points. You need 100 points to earn $1.00. Therefore you need 40,000 points for the week to earn $400 for your next cruise. Phew! Might as well sleep in the casino.

My cabin stewardess turned out to be fine. She even asked me before I even thought of it if I would like my twin beds pushed together along with a king sheet pad and bedspread.

My waiter was extremely professional and worked hard but his social skills were lacking. He only smiled when he was singing and dancing. Could be he rather wished he was an entertainer. My assistant waiter was fabulous. Young and happy with his job.

Tipping is automatic and is added to your sail-and-sign card. The total per day was $9.75 per person. The tip for the maitre d' apparently has now been eliminated. Again probably due to passenger complaints. Surely the $9.75 per day for steward and service for 3 meals a day is a bargain.

Taking an average passenger profile, I found a majority of senior citizens. I counted 1 child for every 25 adults; therefore, there were less than 100 children on-board. The lack of families in the Caribbean on Carnival is more  than likely due to the 8-day cruise and not being school vacation.

Although the "food" thing on Carnival is a moot point on many forums I am one that has to disagree with the nay Sayers. The food is excellent for ship fare and to have the staid Ocean & Cruise Liner Society to rate it up to that of a 4-star cruise line must mean something. There was not one complaint at my table of eight.

The new "food court" type buffet is the greatest. There are no lines. There are many separate counters. There is a regular station for hot food and carving (I even found my favorite wiener schnitzel one day), a NY Deli, an Asian counter where the food changes daily, a "nations" counter where the food changes from German to French to Japanese to Italian, etc. daily, a salad counter with no less than 20 selections and a huge dessert counter.

The Grill has not only large juicy burgers but chicken breast and steak sandwiches, as well as veggie-burgers. The fries are similar to "that" place where you take the kids. The meat is all fresh and USDA approved. No "loafs" of turkey, etc. The 24-hour pizza, calzone, Caesar salad counter has home-made fresh items. Nothing frozen here. There is an assortment of pizza including goat cheese. There is complimentary juice, lemonade, punch, iced tea, and hot chocolate. They have small cartons of assorted milk. Coffee and tea. One does have to pay for soft drinks and liquor. The price is less than most shoreside restaurants.

For a few months Carnival had discontinued trays in the buffet (I presume to save money). They have now returned. The gym/spa is very large and the machines are varied and all in working condition. Four levels of machines.

With over 2,000 passengers on a full ship, I only saw one fairly loud inebriated passenger and one young lady that was quite tipsy. As on a fun mass-market ship there were many that were on the verge, late evenings.

There were the usual compliment of pool games at the main pool. If this is not for everyone, the rear pool has good ol' Sinatra music piped in.

Carnival is one line that continues with its midnight buffets, with one Grand Buffet. I presume it is due to that most passengers stay up late. 

I am not  going to comment on the ports or I might have to write a book. All I can say, it is a $5 cab ride into Barbados center (find someone to share). It is $2 per person for a van into Martinique (cab $8). You can walk into St. Martin since the pier is in town. Exception is the poor Norwegian Norway that sat forlornly in the ocean.

Carnival was quite generous to give all the passengers a large hard-cover Legend book to take home.

Only negatives I overheard for this wonderful cruise is: No activities during shore times. There were some activities that were offered for early seating diners and not for the late seating. The singles get-together was not organized. The slide did not empty into the pool.

All I can say is that Carnival is a far cry from when Mr. Arison had to borrow money from the casino department to purchase fuel to sail his first ship home from the Caribbean. Carnival is improving monthly and does not deserve its bad reputation.

The check-in lines were long at the airport and it was Monday, but it only took 11 minutes to get to the security belt.

Paul Therault is a Travel Agent who has taken 78 cruises

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