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Carnival Legend
Western Caribbean
May 6, 2007

by Michael Farmer

I must admit that after reading some reviews concerning the Carnival Legend I was a bit concerned as what to expect. But after returning from what Carnival lists as the 7-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruise, I am very pleased with my choice. Being that this was my first cruise and will definitely not be my last, I have no other cruises to build my expectations on other than what I have read online. But here is what I encountered.

After much research and input from friends who have cruised in the past, I opted to drive to Tampa and book an inside cabin. Being that I live in North Carolina, it wasn't a bad drive and learning that Carnival was going to charge me what I consider too much for airfare I drove. And after talking to others about the room choices I could make, I booked an inside cabin, and was very pleased. Besides, how much time was I going to spend in the cabin? I didn't need a balcony, I had the whole ship!

Arrival at Tampa Port seemed hectic when I pulled up, and there was some confusion where to park. I had to stop and ask an attendant who was very nice. I parked, took my luggage to a very nice porter who I tipped and was pointed in the direction of the line of others that was waiting to get on board. The line moved smoothly and everyone was very helpful. Since I had booked the cruise only two months before the sail date, I didn't have a chance to get my passport and used my certified copy of my birth certificate instead, which made me nervous. But everything was processed with no problems. The lady at the counter was very friendly and actually entertaining after I told her it was my first cruise. Since we were early in arrival, we had to wait in the waiting area before being allowed to board the ship, but once they called us by group numbers, we had our pictures taken and off we went.

Once on board we were pointed in the right direction, and I found my room easily. But since we where early, we ate lunch in the Unicorn Café. Now I had heard all kind of things about the food on a cruise, about the abundance, the variety, and the quality. Once again I was pleased and very impressed. Once we were given the OK to go to our rooms and check them out, I put my stuff in the room and out to the deck I went to watch as the ship sailed off. Later that evening an announcement was made that a mandatory muster drill was to take place and everyone must attend. So I headed for the room to gather my life vest and followed the directions that where announced over the intercom. After the drill I returned to my room, my luggage had not yet arrived, so I wandered around the ship learning the layout and had dinner in the Unicorn Café on deck 9.

The rest of the cruise went without a hitch, but the only time I was disappointed was after discovering that the Tea on board is what I would just call nasty. I decided to purchase the Fountain Fun Card. For those that choose to purchase this card, be prepared to pay the 15% gratuity at time of purchase. From then on I drank Coke. They say that only one drink will be served with the card and to the person who purchased the card, but after a couple of days, some of the servers would let anyone drink off my card that was with me. You have to get your drinks from the bar or a server, but that was no problem. There was only once when I presented my card I was told "this bar is closed" and had to walk to another when the two female attendants had the drinks there ready.

The food on the Legend was outstanding! I would have coffee and fresh fruit delivered to my room each morning, which was always on time! I would then go to the Unicorn Café for the rest of my breakfast which consisted of eggs cooked to order with either bacon or ham with a pastry or two. Try the pastries, they are great! I would also eat lunch in the Unicorn Café which was also great. The choices daily seemed to be a buffet with a freshly carved meat such as roast beef, pork, or turkey with all the sides you could want. You could have a freshly made deli style sandwich, which was popular stop so be prepared to wait in line. They had stir-fry which I skipped. Or, outside they had burgers or hotdogs with French fries which where also very good. At dinner I would dress up and eat at Truffles which was an adventure in itself. Carnival had made arrangements for my partner and I to be at a table for eight, which I was very apprehensive about. But once we joined the table we where at ease, there was another same sex couple there also, so we fit right in. The only thing that disturbed me about my dinner partners was after the first night they never returned, leaving just us two couples there. But being in this lifestyle I am used to such ignorance, their loss not mine! The food in Truffles was outstanding, and like everywhere else, you can eat as much as you want. I was very pleased with the selection, each night I tried something different and always left full. The Maitre D stopped by the table nightly to make sure everything was ok which made for a very nice touch. And each night the servers would sing and dance which was also a very nice addition. Now I had seen this in the advertisement for Carnival and said "They'll never get me to do that", but boy was I wrong, once they start you can't help but to get up and join in, I am not very shy in front of people.

The ports we stopped at where Georgetown Grand Cayman, Cozumel Mexico, Belize Central America, and Costa Maya Mexico. We did excursions in each port with the exception of Belize. Take my advice do an excursion here also. In each port we would do our excursion which consisted of snorkeling in Grand Cayman and Costa Maya, and scuba diving in Cozumel. But in Belize I chose to just see the city, take my advice and do not do this! Here's why, when we arrived at Belize, we took the tender boat over and decided to shop at the shops for souvenirs then take a cab to a beach area. But I found out very quickly that the closest beach area was about 10 miles away. So that was out, but when we ventured out the backside of the tourist shops that are all enclosed, we where met with a swarm of people offering to take us on different excursions. Now these people cannot take no for an answer. So you practically have to walk away while they yell at you about their service s. Now I wanted to get out of that area and see what I thought was a city. But when I finally made my way through the wall of people I was shocked to see how poor the people here are. We walked with another group from our ship and went in a few shops, but I bought nothing. Making our way back to the port, we shopped some more and returned to the ship. So take my advice, do an excursion.

Grand Cayman was nice, but remember it is a British owned territory and they drive on the opposite side of the street, so be careful crossing! Snorkeling here was nice, the company we booked through Carnival took us through a quick safety class and then we walked out from shore to waist deep waters and snorkeled out to a shipwreck for about 1 hour and then back to shore. The rest of the time there I went shopping for souvenirs. One thing you must buy there, RUM CAKE! If you don't you will regret it! Cozumel is where I went scuba diving, and since I am not certified I did the beginners which sufficed for me. At port we took a cab, which was also adventurous, and after a safety lesson we had to display what we had learned in the shallow waters and then off we went. For those of you considering taking an excursion like this, take it. The only thing I had trouble with was learning to regulate the pressure in my ears, but once I did I was fine. It was an adventure. The company took a picture of us and I purchased it on the way back to the ship. Now after my experience in Belize, I booked another snorkeling excursion which I am glad I did. We took a chartered bus ride to the pier, got on a catamaran for a 30 minute ride out into the ocean while receiving a safety lesson. We then dropped a ladder into the water and snorkeled out for about one and a half hours. The scenery here was absolutely breathtaking. I took a camera and took several pictures. The people that run this excursion where some of the nicest you will meet. We then took the catamaran back to the pier, a quick bus ride to the port and some more shopping. Cozumel had to be the best place we visited, it had everything right there, excursions, shopping, eating, drinking, and relaxing on the beach. After shopping we found a nice place by the pool to li e in the sun. 

The entertainment on the Legend was outstanding. Every night we had something different to do. Several nights we gambled in the casino and I won $125! The other nights we would bypass the casino and catch one of the great shows in Follies Lounge, One word of advice, be there 30 minutes early just to get a good seat. Some nights we would leave to come back to a later showing because the only seats we could get had an obstructed view. There where jugglers, a magician, and a comedian who also did an adults only show which was hilarious! And believe me it was adults only! On this cruise I celebrated a birthday, I made friends on this trip and the night of my birthday we went to Medusa Lair to dance the night away. Now this night was near the end of the cruise so some of the staff was there also. Now I have always considered myself to be kind of hip so the music was not that bad. The only thing that puzzled me was why did the dance floor have what to appear a several thousand dollar light show, and none was being used? The floor had lights underneath it, but they never where turned on. There where lights above the dance floor, never turned on. What a waste! The only lights used which where a nice touch was the wall behind the dance floor that changed scenery to fit the music. But we still had a blast dancing till early morning. One night there was a deck party on deck 9 and we all wore our robes and the kitchen catered a Mexican theme while we danced to a calypso band. If they continue this, and you catch it, join in!

I was impressed how the ship was designed and each room had a different theme accounting for legends throughout history. My room was just right, and was kept spotless by my steward Victor. I tipped him extra. It was nice how he knew our intentions. The night we boarded, we brought along some sparkling grape juice since we don't drink but we wanted to still have that feeling of celebrating. We placed our bottle in the refrigerator to chill which was not going to well, so I placed the bottle in the ice bucket that was in the room. But when we returned that night, Victor had placed the bottle in a separate bucket of ice along with two champagne glasses, how nice. So we drank the bottle by the pool on deck 9. Passerby's never knew the difference Ha!

All in all I had a fabulous time and have already booked another cruise for May 2008 on the Victory to San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Would I recommend this cruise or Carnival to others? Yes, I already have.

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