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Copyright © 1995-2004
Linda Coffman

Carnival Legend
Carnival Legend Cruise ReviewMay 2004
Western Caribbean

by Joe Yancho

We just returned from the 8-day Western Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Legend. We booked an extended balcony room on the Panorama deck (deck 8), the top deck of cabins. We assumed this was he best position on the ship. However, above is the Lido deck and pool area. The sounds of the band, people dragging chairs across the deck, and the midnight deck/line dance party can all be heard in your cabin loud and clear, from 6am when the breakfast service starts until at least midnight. So, my only real criticism is this inherent defect in the ship. There is apparently no sound insulation between the Lido deck and the cabins below. I was not the only person to recognize this. If booking this ship, get a cabin on deck 7 or below and this problem takes care of itself. Now let’s get to the good stuff. We chose this itinerary due to the ports of call. These are not like the ports one is used to in the Caribbean. If you want 2000 jewelry stores, duty free liquor, and 5 star resorts do not take this cruise. If you want nature, adventure, and intellectual stimulation take this cruise. 

Belize: I arranged a tour online before the cruise. We took a local water taxi to Caye Caulker. Belize is surrounded by coral island. Some small, some not so small. The resorts and activities are on these islands. So from Belize City one must go by boat to snorkel. These boats are not your average tender. The are long and narrow with two 200 HP outboards. They go REAL fast to get to these islands and are an excursion in themselves. Once on Caye Caulker we found the tour company shack. My wife and I went with another couple snorkeling off this island. This island is a lot like Gilligans’ Island, primitive. 

Our tour guide was Ramsey. He took us to snorkel over the coral reef. The water was crystal clear. The fish were abundant. After two stop on the reef, we went to Shark/Ray Alley. Here we snorkeled with 8-10’ nurse sharks (docile) and huge stingrays. Ramsey picked the sharks up and we pet them. The same with the sting rays. He claims to have named them and talks to them while there. I did not hear them answer. In my opinion this was superior to Stingray City, Grand Cayman due to the fact that we were the only ones there. Unlike Stingray City where there are dozens of boats and hundreds of people. We then took the water taxi back to Belize City, making several stops along the way. One of them being at Caye Chapel, an island entirely covered by a beautiful Golf resort. The ultimate golf experience for golf nuts. They fly you in from Belize City to golf here. From Belize City we took the tender back to the ship, anchored 5 miles off shore to protect the coral reef. Virtually no shopping here. 

Costa Rica: Here we took the Sloth Sanctuary/Canoe tour offered by the ship. This tour was brand new. I highly recommend this fascinating tour. We went by air conditioned bus thru the city of Limon to the rain forest to the sanctuary. It is in a beautiful, lush jungle setting. We viewed a short video that has been featured on Animal Planet, which explains their work there. Then we met Buttercup, a 3-toed sloth. She is a permanent fixture there at the sanctuary. We were able to pet her and take photos with her. We also saw the baby sloths and Millie, a mature 2-toed sloth, who also lives at the sanctuary. After a delicious tropical fruit platter and ice cold lemonade, we boarded a small canoe for a peaceful ride thru the jungle. Our guide pointed out iguanas, birds, and other wildlife in the rain forest. Wild bananas, bamboo and coconut palms were everywhere. The tour ended with a leisurely walk thru the rainforest. There we saw blue land crabs, fluorescent fungi , cutter ants, and sloths. The sloths were high up in the canopy. On the way back to the ship we saw the Dole banana plantation. Further on the bus driver spotted some howler monkeys up in the trees by the roadside. We got off the bus for a look at them. They truly live up to their name. They raise a terrible ruckus. A great way to end our tour. Back at the dock there is a flea market where beautiful, unique, exotic wood handicrafts can be purchased for reasonable prices. No diamonds, just handicrafts. Also the coffee they are famous for is here. We bought beautiful hand made rosewood boxes. Costa Rica also grows exotic hardwoods as a renewable crop.

Panama: Here the ship docks in Colon, the port on the Atlantic side. We left the ship and made our way to where the local tour guides wait to take people on tours, mainly to the canal. They are very aggressive so beware. We found a fellow who had a SUV-type vehicle, as there were four of us. Our guide took us up to Gatun Locks. Here we saw the lock operation up close. We watched as the ships are led into the locks by the locomotives they use to guide them. The doors close behind them and the water is pumped causing the ship to rise. This is an incredible sight to see. Then we crossed the locks and went up to Lake Gatun. Here we see the amazing sight of ships sailing above sea level. We then went all around the canal zone viewing the former US military installations. From there he took us into Colon for some shopping. Once again, no jewels but lots of bargains. He would have taken us anywhere we wanted to go. We paid 100 for all four of us and as our guide said, he took us places where the tours never go. Don’t be afraid to go out on your own. Just use your head and tell the guide what time you have to be back. The canal is a must see!!!

About the ship: The room was nice and comfortable. Our room steward, Alberto from India was the best. The room was always perfect and he was never intrusive. Except for the aforementioned noise problem, the room was fine. The balcony is private and is a real nice place to relax and have a cigar or your morning coffee. The decor of the ship is a bit over the top but who cares. The food on the Lido deck is plentiful and delicious. The variety was endless. There is a midnight buffet every night. All food served on the Lido deck was superb. Service there was great there too. The dining room is 2 tiered. The food there was also great. The desserts were especially good. However Carnival no longer offers free espresso and cappuccino after dinner, as was the case in the past. Also the dining room has a lot of tables for 2. We prefer to dine with others so we were able to switch seating assignments. However, we had to switch to early seating. Not a big deal. This cruise has made me take back most of the negative things I’ve said about Carnival in the past. The service on this ship, to a man, was outstanding. I was really impressed. Keep up the good work Carnival. 


Copyright © Joe Yancho

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