We flew into Tampa a few days early to stay with a friend. He dropped us off at the port around 1:30pm. We decided to carry our own luggage onto the ship due to sheer confusion when arriving at the port: we couldn't tell who was "official" and who was just looking for a quick buck. Escalator takes you to the second floor holding room. First you must go through a scanner similar to the airport. The staff person said we should have given our luggage to someone at the entrance, but agreed to let us put our bags through the scanner (they barely fit). We entered a line based on what floor our cabin was on. The line was about 10 minutes long. After bypassing the photographers, we were on the ship and in our rooms about 10 minutes later. Guests enter in the atrium where it can become cramped - just keep walking towards the elevators to get out of everyone's way.
- Our "Large Inside Cabin Category K" was very small but designed well with cabinets and drawers to fit everything we had with us. Closet was divided into two sections with 20 total hangars and four wire shelves. Bathroom had plenty of counter space around the sink, lots of shelving in the shower for toiletries and the mirror opens up with large shelves for other personal items. The toilet is very loud - we covered our ears every time we flushed. Shower is very small (I could not bend over to shave my legs), but the shower head is removable and has nice water pressure and the knob locks to prevent you from getting burned by hot water (you can manually unlock the knob to get really hot water). Room included a vanity with nice lighting and storage space, a safe accessible by a credit card (it is not charged to your credit card), a cushioned chair, TV and glass table. Twin beds were pushed together to make a queen and there were two nightstands with two drawers each. Drapes can be pulled across the room to separate the bed from the TV area. As I've read in previous reviews of this ship, the air conditioning doesn't work. Our room was always warm and the air conditioning only sporadically blew out a small amount of cool air. My grandparents room was always cold and the heat only sporadically blew out a small amount of warm air.
- Dining staff were friendly and very professional as well as staff at Purser's Desk. We thought our cabin steward was unprofessional - he seemed awkward around us, did not give us daily newsletter everyday, did not give us a survey at end of cruise and was joking with staff in hallways, often not acknowledging us. I only make this complaint because I'm comparing typical cruise staff etiquette from other cruises, not because I expect this level of service in everyday life. Our assistant waiter (Igor) was the most professional and friendly staff member I've ever encountered on a cruise ship, and quite good looking too.
Much of the staff didn't seem to enjoy their job. One opened up to us and complained about how hard they are forced to work. I also witnessed one buffet staff member making fun of a mentally challenged guest. We opted to pay our tips manual as we usually do. Royal Caribbean has a voucher system in which you can agree to the set amounts for tipping and they will give you pre-written vouchers to physically hand to staff members or you opt to do everything manually. The only disadvantage to manual tipping is that it must be done with cash. But there is an ATM near the Purser's Desk.
- If asked to compare food on Carnival, RCCL, Norwegian, Celebrity and Holland America, I would say that RCCL is near the bottom. Dining Room Breakfast was a nice change from the buffet. It was more relaxed and the food was better. Fruit was fresh and choices included eggs, bakery items, pancakes, granola, turkey sausage, pork sausage, bacon and omelets. Grapefruit juice was always on the menu and every time I ordered it, they said they don't have any. Buffet Breakfast was good if you can maneuver the sometimes chaotic buffet area. Included cereal, yogurt, eggs, sausage, bacon, omelets to order, fruit (always terrible and mushy, pineapple chunks were bitter and most of them were hard, core pieces), bran muffins, croissants, pancakes, French toast among other items. RCCL's breakfast buffet was one of the better cruise buffets I've had. Free juice with breakfast including lemonade, ice tea, cranberry and orange juice and usually a fruit juice like Guava Passion. Buffet Lunch was ok. Some items changed daily such as soups, desserts, pastas. Many were good. We enjoyed couscous, raisin scones, salads (which had low-fat dressing options), great oatmeal raisin cookies. Sandwiches were good but were only labeled as "assorted sandwiches" and I could not tell what type of meat what on some of them. Dining Room Dinner had great appetizers, soups, awesome Cesar salad and desserts but I was never very pleased with the entrees. I highly recommend the Pepperpot Soup, Duck Consume, Lobster Bisque, Cesar Salad (under the healthy section), all the chilled fruit soups, Low-fat Key Lime Pie, Low-fat Cheesecake. I enjoyed the Thai BBQ Chicken entrée and the Norwegian Salmon (on the healthy section), but was disappointed with the Snapper and the Mahi Mahi Tempura (tasted like fish sticks and ketchup which was suppose to be sweet and sour sauce) Sometimes I was put off by the vegetables that accompanied the entrees such as bok choy (which our waiter said nobody likes) and steamed celery (which is a strange vegetable to steam) To put the cruise lines in order of best food to worst, I would order them this way: Holland America, Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian. My issue with Norwegian was expired yogurt, soggy scrambled eggs and bad fruit.
- I enjoyed the fitness center two times during the week. It was never very full and all the machines face a large picture window off the star board side. Machines included elliptical machines, treadmills, some stationery bikes, some stepper machines, weight training machines, two rowing machines and an area for stretching that included free weights, balancing balls and floormats.
GEORGETOWN, GRAND CAYMAN
This was my third time in Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is a tendering port. It is a beautifully clean island with great beaches. I previously did Stingray City and an island tour of the Turtle Farm, Tortuga Factory and Hell. My boyfriend had not experienced Stingray City, so we booked with NativeWay Sports on their Rays, Reef and Rum Point excursion for $55 each. After a 10 minute ride to the marina we boarded a boat for a 15 minute ride to Sting Ray City. Along the way we were given a menu to choose our lunch from. My boyfriend ordered the Jerk Pork and I ordered the Catch of the Day which ended up being Mahi Mahi. These are the best choices because they are the most expensive lunches on the menu (and it's included in your excursion price). Both came with rice and beans, a pineapple salad similar to coleslaw and iced tea. The Mahi Mahi was grilled and came with a saffron butter sauce. It was very good. The tour guides called in the lunch orders as we put on our snorkel gear. The guides did not give instruction on snorkeling and a handful of people stayed onboard the boat to watch. Unfortunately it was windy and the waves were rough, making it difficult to stand still at the sandbar. The water is about 3 - 4 feet deep. I would highly recommend NativeWay Sports, they did everything possible to make sure everyone had a good time and the price was right, especially compared to the ship's price.
COSTA MAYA, MEXICO
This was my first time in Costa Maya and I learned the port was only built for cruise ships. You cannot walk outside the tourism village, but you can take a shuttle ($3 each way) to Majahual which is about 3 miles away along the coast. It is a small town with a dirt main road, a couple shops and a restaurant owned by a Canadian woman (The Cat's Meow). The tourism village is full of souvenir shops with pushy staff as well as an area with lounge chairs on a man made beach and a large restaurant with a freshwater pool attached to it. We booked a tour of the Chaccoben Mayan Ruins with The Native Choice for $43 each. Our tour guides David and Ivan were very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the Mayan culture. I highly recommend this tour company, the guides are very passionate about their culture and eager to share with you.
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE
This was my second time in Belize. We wanted to try cave tubing and booked with X-Stream for $60 each. Our guide was Elisa. She was very knowledgeable and kept track of our small group of six as we went through the jungle, stopping often to tell us about the various trees and plants, and as we went through the caves. She was a lot of fun. You should be in decent physical shape to do the cave tubing since it requires some "rowing" with your hands and feet. I highly recommend booking cave tubing with an independent tour group such as X-Stream or Coral Breeze. Both these companies charge $60 while the ship charged $98. After tubing, we were given some time to explore a couple shops at the trail's head and eat at the restaurant. For only $5 you were given a large piece of barbecue chicken, some coleslaw, rice and beans and chocolate or banana cake. Great experience, felt like a summer camp.
This was my third time in Cozumel but first since Hurricane Wilma went through. We received a free snorkeling excursion from the online cruise agency that we booked our cruise with. Cozumel has lots of damage, on land and at sea. The water is cloudy, the sea floor full of soot and a majority of the trees have been ripped away. The ships have to "wade" out in the water since it's too deep to drop anchor and the cruise ship pier is heavily damaged. The free snorkeling excursion was at the Blue Angel Dive Shop located just down the main street from the pier a couple miles. Our guide did not speak English but made the most of what ended up being a snorkeling tour of the hurricane damage (not on purpose of course). He pointed out a couple barracudas and a Bahama star. The snorkeling was directly off the main road on a damaged beach looking out at a couple cruise ships. Unfortunately, I was stung by a jellyfish, but the staff had a "sting rub" that helped out. Many, but not all, of the shops are still open along the main drive.
- We found Legend of the Seas to be a beautiful ship considering its age. In fact, of all the ships I've sailed (Celebrity Mercury, Holland America Westerdam, Norwegian Wind and Carnival Destiny), I enjoyed this ship the most. The Solarium was an especially beautiful area of the ship with a glass covered pool, Romanesque pillars and comfortable lounge chairs. The room felt like a bath house. The dining room was beautiful morning and night.
- Went pretty smoothly as we were in no rush to get off the ship. We had a 7pm flight out of Tampa and planned to spend our day at the Florida Aquarium, located a block from the port (the Aquarium will hold your luggage during the day) You receive colored luggage tags the last night and as your color is called, you report to the atrium to exit the ship. Colors were called promptly at 8am. We were one of the last groups off the ship, getting off at about 10:30. The only rule is that you have to be out of your room by 8am. I don't recommend waiting near the atrium because it is loud, the staff people are yelling out instructions and it's crowded.
-- Royal Caribbean's show schedule was different than what I have encountered on previous lines. There were two shows for the dinner crowd; on some nights the show for the late dinner seating was actually before dinner. We enjoyed the magic show very much and an acrobatic-type show from a former Olympian. The Broadway-style shows were ok and very similar to those you see on all the ships that are variety shows of famous musicals.
- I enjoyed the Legend of the Seas because it was designed well, making it easy to find public rooms and your cabin. I was disappointed with some of the staff (except our dining staff) as well as the itinerary (days were too short) and the dinner entrees. I would sail on Royal Caribbean again if I was tempted by a great itinerary.
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