Carnival Legend Western Caribbean Cruise


Introduction

                                       The Carnival Legend, anchored at Cozumel, Mexico

This is a 7-day cruise in the Western Caribbean.  We were part of a family group celebrating our friend Peggy’s 80th birthday.

Full-size, downloadable photos from the blog are at https://rovingstones.shutterfly.com/pictures/566. The set is titled Peggy’s 80th Birthday Cruise 2011.

Boarding, Day 1 & Day 2 At Sea

July 10 and 11, 2011

We took this seven day cruise on the Carnival Legend to honor the 80th birthday of a dear friend, Peggy Cataldi.  After traveling so much on Holland America, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from Carnival Cruise Lines.  We drove from the North Carolina Outer Banks to Tampa, and from the time we reached the dock our experience was good.  The luggage drop-off was a very efficient, well-run process.  When we got to the parking garage, our attendant was very friendly and helpful.  But that was just the beginning.

After we went through security, we encountered friendly staff that turned out to be from Holland America Line.  When they saw our hats and found out we had gotten married as a result of the 2008 world cruise, the lady who was doing the executive check-in wanted to meet us and checked us in.  We had red carpet treatment throughout the check-in process, and didn’t have to wait in any lines!  Could there be a better start to a cruise on an unfamiliar line?  We don’t think so.

Once on board we found lunch and started meeting both passengers and crew.  The ship is decorated very intensely; it is way too busy visually for our tastes.  But it is a nice ship, well run, well maintained, and the crew is great. The crew comes from many countries:  so far we’ve met some from Indonesia and the Philippines; also Thailand, South  Africa, Swaziland, Trinidad, India and Moldova. 

At dinner our group is large enough that we have three tables, plus one table at the late seating dinner.  We did not go to the welcome show, since it was scheduled for 10:30 PM, a bit late for us.  However, we did spend time walking on deck, photographing a beautiful sunset, and getting to know the layout of the ship.

Day 1 was very full and pleasant.  It feels wonderful to be back on the water.

Day 2 was spent at sea.  Our major daytime activity was trying to get a group photo taken.  One of the ship’s photographers took official photos.  We got some unofficial ones.  Below is a picture of Peggy (yellow T-shirt) and Jimmy, John, Marie and Michael Cataldi (from left to right).  The T’s have Peggy’s picture on the front and a big number 80 on the back.


Cozumel, Mexico


July 12, 2011

Cozumel was our first port on this cruise.  The area around the port seems to be largely a construct of Carnival Cruise Lines.  That is not all bad, because the area is kept up nicely and the merchants don’t hassle you as much as they do outside the port area.  The focus on tourists is total near the port.  There are bicycle taxis that apparently are there to take you from the ship to the duty-free store.  Once outside the immediate port area there are taxis, horse-drawn carriage rides (expensive) and more merchants.

There were three Carnival cruise ships in port the day of our visit.  We decided to try walking to town, but between the heat and a high pressure salesman for what is probably a time share resort, we decided to head back toward the ship.  On the walk back to the dock area we encountered this iguana on the sidewalk.  He didn’t seem to mind having us close to him.

We had a certificate good for a snack plate at Pancho’s Back Yard Restaurant, which we were able to use because we accidentally found the restaurant.  We had a light lunch with beer; our time there was made pleasant by a couple of locals playing a marimba.  The food was excellent.  After we had finished eating, someone spotted several more iguanas hanging around.  The green one is apparently a young one.

There is a coral reef exhibit nearby, and after looking at it, we discovered tide pools just over a low wall.  There was plenty of life to be seen in the pools, including some tiny fish, many kinds of snails, sea urchins, and chitons, a survivor from pre-historic times.

While we were exploring the tide pools we met a very nice couple from Lafayette, Louisiana, who was on one of the other ships in port.  That added yet another very pleasant note to our day.

There are additional photos here.

                                                             Susan enjoying the tide pools

Belize City, Belize


July 13, 2011

Belize is a very small country with a population of about 385,000.  The main population groups are Mestizo (Mayan Indian & Spanish), Mayan, and Creole (African & European), but many other cultures are also represented in the population of Belize.  There are many small islands off the coast, and a barrier reef that extends along the entire coast of the country.

Our ship anchored about 5 miles off shore, so we rode tenders to get ashore.  There was a large shopping complex at the dock, which included a visitor center.  We met our tour guides there, and then boarded a bus for our tour.  The excursion we chose was a tour of Belize City (the country’s only large city) and the Belize Zoo, which is located outside the city.  Perhaps the greatest highlight of our tour was our guides, Ken and Lavourne.

English is the official language of Belize, so our guides spoke it well, but their preferred language is Creole, which they taught us a little about.

The Belize Zoo was started to provide a home for about 17 animals that had been used in a documentary film (about the native animals) that had become tame and would no longer have been able to survive in the wild.  Since then the zoo has become a refuge for injured animals and a place for a breeding program to replenish the numbers of some endangered animals.

Our first animal encounter was an opportunity to hold a boa constrictor.  It was a pleasant encounter, even for those of us who are not fond of snakes.

In the same area where we handled the snake, there is a large cage with three King Vultures, a bird we recognized from our time at the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore.  As with the other places we’ve been on this cruise, there were iguanas everywhere.  We saw spider monkeys, deer, tapirs (their national animal), crocodiles, and several big cats, including a puma, a jaguar, a margay, and a jaguarundi.  After the snake encounter, our group split into two parts, one going with each guide.  We were with Ken, and when we got to the black howler monkey, Ken was able to get the alpha male to roar for us.  The birds we saw included macaws and the Ornate Hawk-Eagle.

Unfortunately we did not get a good look at some of the cats because of rain, which was heavy enough to send them looking for shelter.  We were soaked by the time we got back to the bus, but still had a very good time, and our cameras did survive the rain.

There are many humorous signs throughout the zoo. The humor made it fun to read the reminders of things to beware of.  With the sign pictured, it was interesting to see that some people didn’t take it seriously.  Fortunately the male tapir had no victims while we were there.

On the way back to the ship, Lavourne gave us a lesson in the meanings of the colors and symbols on their country’s flag.

Our experience with the people we met in Belize is that they have a wonderful sense of humor, and they are a pleasure to be around.  There is a lot of poverty here, which bothered many of the cruise passengers, but the Belizeans seem to accept the life they have.

In our guide Ken’s words, this country is UnBelizeable!!  We would enjoy returning to Belize at some time.

                                      Guides Lavourne (with microphone) and Ken (behind flag)


Isla Roatan, Honduras


July 14, 2011

Isla Roatan is located in the Bay of Islands off the coast of Honduras.  It is a beautiful tropical island with palm tree forests, white sand beaches and beautiful blue water.  There are a couple of cruise ship ports on the island; we docked at Mahogany Bay.  As you leave the dock you find the usual shopping complex.  Beyond that we found the vans that would take us on our excursion.

The excursion we chose was called Pirates, Birds and Monkeys, and it took us to Gumbalimba Park, which is a tourist attraction that includes a botanical garden, a very small interactive zoo with parrots, macaws and monkeys, an insectarium and beach activities.  The park is named after the Gumbalimba tree, which is known on the island for its medicinal properties.  It is apparently good for treating infections, kidney and liver ailments, and back problems.  The bark of the tree is a distinctive shade of red that makes the tree easily identifiable.  

Our guide, Teddy, took us around the park and made sure we had all the proper instructions for survival …  Well, actually, instructions to bring us through to the end unscathed.  We were warned about protecting our eye glasses, cameras and hats from the monkeys.  Too bad he didn’t warn us about the birds.  When Susan posed for a photo with a Scarlet Macaw, the bird immediately went for (and stole) the button from the top of her cap.  We are pretty sure that the button was still in the bird’s mouth in this photo.

The Insectarium is a really nice exhibit that showcases butterflies and other insects native to Honduras, along with a few examples of insects from other countries.   We got to meet the artist who is painting the murals on all the walls.  Following this we were given some of the history of the island.  Then came the challenge of the day:  we could cross the lake filled with unfed alligators via a rather rickety looking suspension bridge, or we could take the “chicken path”.  All of the group elected to take the suspension bridge, even though some of us would have preferred not to.

We could have our photo taken with one of the white-faced monkeys if we so desired, but we opted to let others do that.  In the mean time we enjoyed watching the Honduran “rabbits” which turned out to be agoutis.

There were many iguanas in the park, along with a lot of interesting plants.  The park is still fairly new, and parts of it are still under construction.  It is nicely done and will be great when they get it finished.

Isla Roatan was once a British colony.  Honduras traded the land that is now Belize for Roatan.

… Our guide did mention that the shipwreck in this photo is of a Carnival ship … (LOL)

Isla Roatan is a pleasant place to visit.  It was many people’s favorite port on this cruise.  There are more photos in the album.


Georgetown, Grand Cayman

The Carnival Legend Anchored at Grand Cayman

July 15, 2011

Grand Cayman is a port we have been to before, so we did not feel the need to do a formal shore excursion.  Instead, we decided to go to Margaritaville to have a margarita.  Excellent choice!  We ended up having a wonderful time.  Our server, Juan Manuel, contributed significantly to our good time.  He is actually from Isla Roatan, Honduras, where we were yesterday.  As you can see from the photos (check the album), he was a lot of fun.  We ordered Perfect Margaritas in souvenir glasses, which turned out to be a lot of alcohol.  One of those margaritas is probably enough to last us for a lifetime.  Juan Manuel recommended that we try one of the local dishes.  It turned out to be very good, as was the local beer with which we finished the meal.  We just couldn’t leave without trying local beer.  These days it’s a matter of principle!  We ate well, drank well, had good conversation and laughed a lot.  What more could we ask for?  Our table was on a little balcony, just big enough for two, and we had the pleasure of eating outdoors combined with just the right amount of air conditioning.

The tender ride over to the island was very short.  As we walked along the dock we noticed a lot of brightly colored fish that were apparently looking for a handout.  On the other side of the dock we saw a squid swimming among the seaweed, the first time we’ve ever seen one in the wild.

After lunch we visited the Margaritaville gift shop, where we acquired t-shirts; then we walked around for a little while before taking the tender back to the ship.   Grand Cayman gave us a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and great people.

Our table was under the left awning upstairs

                                                                                                                                           


The Carnival Legend

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July 17, 2011

The Carnival Legend was built in 2002, and it has been refurbished.  Everything on board seems to be in good condition.  The decor is over the top busy and garish to our eyes, although the displays of Bohemian glass in the stairwells are nice.  The ship tends to be very noisy because there are so many hard surfaces, like the tile floors and ceilings in the Lido Unicorn Restaurant (the casual buffet dining area).

The crew on the Legend is multinational, and they are very friendly and do their jobs very well.  They have helped to make our experience on the ship a pleasant one.  The passengers are also pretty good people:  even though there are many children on board, ranging in age from infants to teenagers, the children have been very well behaved.  This is in notable contrast to Susan’s experience on the Norwegian Spirit.

Possibly the best feature on this ship is the ventilation fan in the bathrooms that runs constantly.  It has enough power to deflect a tornado, and as a result this ship is the only place we’ve ever been able to shower without fogging the mirrors.  That is impressive.  The bathroom door has a door check, so the door can’t swing wildly when the seas are rough.

This ship has bars in every nook and cranny.  Many of them have a stage for entertainers, but the entertainers are placed in areas where it is difficult to just sit and listen to them.  The lounge entertainers are mostly solo, with one or two duets; there are no bands on board.  This kind of entertainment did not call to us at all.

The Lido Unicorn restaurant is a complex set-up, with the food split between several areas.  While it does help to disperse the crowds a bit, finding what you are looking for isn’t always easy.  The tables are set up more like a restaurant, which makes moving between them somewhat difficult.

Our cabin is smaller than what we are used to on the ms Amsterdam.  However, it is furnished in such a way that it feels spacious.

We have been to three shows:  2 productions with the ship’s orchestra, singers and dancers, and a singer named Marcus Anthony, who is from St. Thomas and has worked with many Motown singers.  The first production show and Marcus Anthony were very good.  The ship’s orchestra is excellent!  The second production was of very mixed quality, which was sad because the group has a great deal of talent.  We skipped the comedian and the show featuring the passengers.  We have also skipped the nightly comedy shows in the smaller theater.

In the interests of making the Legend a ‘fun ship’, every night at dinner, the entire wait staff has had to either sing or dance for us.  Maybe it is fun for some, but not for us.

The disembarkation process is a little different from what we are accustomed to.  For starters, we gave the company all the information about our flights during the online check-in process.  The other thing that is clearly different is that we must be out of our cabins by 8:30 AM, no matter what time we will be disembarking.  Disembarking turned out to be a rather amazing experience.  Even though we were in the next to last group to be called for disembarkation, we were off the ship within an hour after the time we had to vacate our cabins.  The process was very efficient, the best disembarkation experience we’ve had.

There are other items worth commenting on.  For starters, there are no serious grab bars in the bathroom, which makes the bathroom an unsafe place for older passengers.  We are accustomed to having a theater where we can go to watch movies; there was none on the Legend.  The daily program has a long list of activities, but the program is difficult to read, between the tiny print and the way it is arranged.  The most prominent activity is bingo, which is available at all hours of the day.  It is also noteworthy that the daily program provides no information about the ports beyond the emergency phone number and the time of the last tender and/or departure.

The ship had a large number of photographers on board, and there was a huge push for getting formal portraits taken, as well as the usual dockside and formal night dining room photos.  There were so many portrait sets that they blocked off significant portions of several lounges.  The photographers were even at work in the dining room for our final (casual) dinner.  We have photos in our album; no ship’s photographers were sacrificed to get them…

Carnival’s emphasis is on fun.  To that end they had a cruise director on board who always spoke with what sounded like artificial enthusiasm, too much hype and too much adrenaline.  In addition he spoke very fast and had a British accent that made him difficult to understand.  In his defense, though, we must say that when he did the disembarkation talk, which we watched on the cabin TV, he did speak at a reasonable rate, and he did a good job with that presentation.

Would we go on a Carnival cruise again?  Perhaps, if there is a good reason to do so.  But we are far more comfortable on Holland America ships.




© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com