by Linda O'Brien
November 19, 2004
Cabin type: (2) adjoining extended balcony suites on the 7th deck
Below is a fair account of the "highs and lows" of the ship and its staff.
The embarkation process was smooth and quick, particularly if you pre-register all the members of your party in advance on Carnival's web site. To my pleasant surprise, there was abundant seating available for much of the embarkation process. In addition, guests were permitted on board prior to the published 1:30PM boarding time. Given the large number of passengers, this was impressive.
The carpets in the hallways adjacent to the state rooms had been replaced, however, the original carpeted cove base had not, thereby illustrating an obvious cost saving measure and creating a mismatched result.
The closet space was sufficient and the clearance under the beds was appropriate to fit our large hard case luggage. The shower was a pleasant surprise in both spaciousness and water temperature. A plastic dispenser with body soap and shampoo was provided in the shower in lieu of individual sized toiletries.
The extended balconies offered space for greater comfort and we were pleased that our room steward made arrangements to have the partition opened between the two balconies allowing us easy access between the rooms without the necessity of going out into the hallway. The doorway to the balcony, however, was not a sliding glass door thereby eliminating the option of sleeping with the door open denying us the pleasure of listening to the sounds of the ocean anytime we were in our rooms.
The main dining room food was inconsistent. We noticed that the menu would often over-promise and under deliver. One such example was the promise of prawns when 30-40 count shrimp were served. Another example was the promise of vine-ripened tomatoes when un-ripened tomatoes, clearly packaged green, were served. There were several dishes that had to be returned, namely the Coquille St. Jacques that was tremendously overcooked and the highly overstated Chateau Briand. Dessert choices were also so poor that we opted to have fruit for desert nearly every evening.
The only free alternative dining was provided on the Lido deck where cafeteria style dining awaited! I refrain from calling this "buffet style" as calling the Unicorn Café a buffet would be an insult to any genuine buffet offered on the Las Vegas strip. The atmosphere, quality of food and despair of the employees made this a place I chose to avoid as much as possible.
A small coffee station was available to purchase coffee and breakfast pastries. I purchased two pastries, one for myself and one for my son, only once, discovering that the exterior presentation far outweighed the flavor.
Finally, one additional restaurant, the Golden Fleece, was available in the evenings for an additional $25 per person per meal. This restaurant was the only dining on the ship that met our expectations. The service and quality of food were very good.
Staffing and Customer Service
Upon boarding, as my children and I made our way to the Lido deck for the welcome aboard luncheon, we literally ran into our first of many wretched employees. This particular pool area waiter was carrying a tray of fruity welcome aboard drinks when he made an abrupt 180 degree turn thrusting himself directly into our oncoming path. The tray wobbled while he desperately tried to stabilize it. In the end, one tall drink tumbled to the tile floor below causing the contents to shower on myself and my daughter. One would expect a sincere apology but instead the waiter cast us a disgusted look and began to pick up the ice on the floor. Still standing in the same spot with stains on our clothes, my daughter was forced to ask if we could use one of the towels to wipe ourselves. Still without a word, he finally handed us a towel.
A second event occurred shortly thereafter in the Unicorn café which was a cafeteria style restaurant which required the use of trays (the only free alternative dining on the ship). It was extremely crowded with most tables being occupied. Those tables that were not occupied had not been bussed. As we were aimlessly searching for a place to sit, much to horror, my huge tray caught the edge of the protruding window frames and slammed into the floor. Naturally, I felt terrible and was distraught. Fortunately, a bus girl was nearby and I caught her eye hoping for a sympathetic smile. But she didn't smile or rescue me at all. She didn't offer any sympathy, spoken or unspoken. I asked her if there was a towel that I could use to assist in the clean up, but she merely waved her hand at me signaling me to go away. I was so upset by the incident that I did not eat at all and left the area.
During breakfast one morning in the main dining room, I had the pleasure of meeting a couple who genuinely reminded me of both of my deceased parents. Needless to say, I was delighted by their company as we enjoyed breakfast together around 9:30AM. Shortly after finishing our eggs, as we sat and drank coffee and tea together, it became apparent that the staff was more interested in clearing this section of the dining room than in the comfort and pleasure of the customers. Two waiters actually began standing directly behind us (within a foot) making it very clear that we were not welcomed to stay despite the fact that the dining room would not close for another hour.
One morning, at the excursion desk, quite a few customers were discussing what alternatives might be available since their excursions were being cancelled due to poor weather. We were among those persons. We discussed the alternative tours which were still available and asked for a few minutes to consult with the children. The staff reassured us that taking a few minutes would be no problem. When we returned 10 minutes later, the desk was closed! A ship with superior customer service, out of courtesy for the guests, would have remained open extended hours (or minutes) due to the large volume of passengers being inconvenienced but the Legend employees would never provide anything more than the absolute minimum standards!
On the last day of our cruise, we arrived for breakfast in the main dining room at 7:30AM to allow enough time to be at our designated meeting spot by 8:30AM. Although we were seated immediately, by 8:15AM we still had not been served our meals. Two dozen persons, who arrived much later than us, had already been served and were leaving the dining room. When I expressed concern to the waiter about our time constraints, he literally yelled at me. He shouted that the turnover days for the staff are very busy and stressful and that our food would come when it got there. The horror on our faces must have embarrassed the other wait staff as one of the other waiters did have the good manners to apologize to us for the behavior of his co-worker.
Shortly after this incident, we gladly left the ship, forever!
In conclusion, the Carnival Legend is a ship which will please only those with minimal standards.