CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews


Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Legend of the Seas & Tommie Dobrowski 16-Night Royal Journey: Sydney to Singapore February 26 - March 14, 2000

Ship's Personnel

Several posters on a few cruise bulletin boards have suggested that reports include the names of key ship personnel if possible to assist others who may be interested in finding specific people or tracing their movements from ship to ship. So here are the pertinent individuals from this sailing of the

Master - Captain Thomas Wildung Staff Captain - Hakan Lindegren Chief Engineer - Roger Jensen Hotel Director - Fred De Cosse Cruise Director - Kirk Detweiler Chief Purser - Karin Luppes Chief Housekeeper - Desmond Downer Food & Beverage Manager - Gerald Kugler Dining Room Manager - Nibu Sayed Executive Chef - John Mascarenhas (India)

Background

My wife Tommie and I are in our late 40's and early 50's, reside in Southern California, and both work full time at fairly stressful jobs. Thus we prefer relaxing vacations and have found cruising to be the most enjoyable and worry free form of travel. We are both fortunate enough to have 5 weeks of annual vacation and typically take 2 or 3 cruises each year, varying in length from 10 to 16+ days. This was our 28th cruise in 12 years and our 4th with Royal Caribbean, although it has been more than 5 years since our last cruise with this company. We have previously sailed on 8 different cruise lines (RCL, NCL, HAL, Princess, Carnival, Renaissance, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity) in ships as small as 112 passengers and as large as 2600 - Grand Princess, and over the years have experienced cabins varying from lowest category outside to balcony staterooms, and finally suites. It's amazing just how much larger accommodations with amenities such as butler service and priority treatment can enhance the overall cruise experience! We have also had the good fortune to visit-and revisit-many parts of the world in our travels, and this was our 4th cruise in the southern hemisphere, but our 1st visit to all the ports on this itinerary except Sydney. Thus we feel reasonably experienced enough to make comparisons where applicable, and offer opinions and comments.

The Ship & Public Areas

The Legend of the Seas, at just over 70,000 tons and carrying 1800 guests (double occupancy), is a gorgeous ship inside and out. Although in service for 6 years, the Legend has been extremely well maintained and bears no evidence of its age. There are numerous areas to sit and relax, and we never had trouble finding vacant seats no matter the time of day. And with 6 bars and lounges scattered throughout the ship, a refreshing cocktail was always close at hand. The 7 deck high central atrium was also spectacular. With glass skylights on Deck 10 providing abundant light during the day, glass and metal sculptures spanning the decks, dual glass elevators, and cascading water pools & Champagne Terrace on Deck 4, this was a very popular place day and night. The ship has no dead end hallways and the forward and midship stairways-and associated elevators-go from top to bottom, so it was very easy to find our way around after the first day. However, ONLY the midship atrium (glass) elevators go all the way up to the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 11, and there are NO elevators at the stern of the ship so aft passengers must walk amidship to go up or down (the rear stairways ONLY traverse Decks 6,7& 8). Let's take a quick tour of the Legend of the Seas passenger areas starting from the lowest deck and heading up.

Deck 1

("C" Deck) contains the Medical facilities.

Deck 2

("B" Deck) contains only passenger staterooms, and is where the tenders are boarded when in a tender port. We had one tender port (Bali) and have included information about the tender service under the Bali port description near the end of this report.

Deck 3

("A" Deck) contains passenger staterooms, and the Conference Center which was also where the Bank was located. It was open a great deal and bought and sold all the currencies for the numerous countries we visited at a somewhat favorable exchange rate with no commission.

Decks 4 (Promenade) and 5 (Main) represented the heart of the ship inasmuch as dining, drinking, shopping, and entertainment are concerned. Deck 4 has the exterior promenade area, but for those who like walking be advised that this promenade DOES NOT wrap all around the ship. If you want to walk laps for exercise, as Tommie & I do, Deck 10 is the only choice.

On Deck 4 the Romeo & Juliet Dining Room occupies the stern of the vessel and is the elegant two deck main dining room with an interior grand staircase connecting the two levels (you can also enter each level on its respective deck). The room features beautiful lighting and lighting effects, two deck high glass windows on both sides, and an area at the bottom of the staircase where musicians play during the evening dining hours for about 45 minutes. Breakfast and lunch were always open seating, and the hours for breakfast were 7:30-9:30 when at sea and as early as 6:00AM depending on the port of call. Lunch was consistently served from 11:30AM-1:30PM. Main seating dinner commenced at 6:15PM, while Late seating started at 8:30PM. More about the Romeo & Juliet Dining Room can be found in our section on Dining.

The That's Entertainment Theater occupies the bow of the vessel on Deck 4 and is the attractive single deck main entertainment area for all the ship's production shows and other entertainers. The sight lines were excellent from virtually anywhere in this theater, and we never had trouble getting good seats no matter what time we arrived. There is NO separate Cinema on the Legend and this locale doubles as the movie theater during the day. However, since rehearsals and other events were occasionally scheduled here, movies were only offered about of the days during the cruise.

Between the That's Entertainment Theater and Romeo & Juliet Dining Room on Deck 4-starting forward and walking aft-one first finds the Casino. Neither Tommie nor I gamble, but every time we passed through this area when it was open (there is no way to go around!) it was quite crowded. Next we encounter the Schooner Bar on the port side of the vessel. Although a very nice lounge, it was poorly ventilated and therefore the only place on the ship where we always found it to be too smokey to enjoy. As we continue our way aft we finally we reach the bottom level of the beautiful Atrium and the Champagne Bar. This was our favorite place on the Legend and we spent many an evening sipping champagne cocktails, dancing to the nightly musicians, and people watching.

Now on Deck 5, starting at the upper level of the Romeo & Juliet Dining Room and walking forward, one first encounters the upper level of the Champagne Terrace followed by the Purser's Desk (starboard) and Shore Excursion area (port). The Purser's Desk always seemed to be well staffed and we never had to wait long for service. The shore excursion area was a large alcove with supplemental seating, but since we booked our excursions in advance, we did not avail ourselves of their services. Continuing forward we reach The Boutiques where the typical jewelry, watch, fragrance, clothing, and notions/liquor stores could be found. Note that liquor could be purchased (at great duty free prices) and taken to your cabin for personal consumption. At the very front of this deck is the Anchor's Away lounge, which had terrific glass sculptures and etched mirrors. This too was a good place to come dancing during the evening, and it was also the main meeting place for all the shore excursions and tender boats tickets.

Decks 6 (Mariner), 7 (Commodore), and 8 (Bridge) contain essentially only suites and staterooms, but adjacent to the Atrium on each deck were public areas. The Photo Gallery occupied both the port & starboard sides of the Atrium area on Deck 6, and on Deck 7 the two sides contained the Library and Card Room. The Internet Café was on Deck 8 port, and the rate was 50 cents per minute. We never used this facility, so cannot attest to its availability or reliability. On the starboard side of this deck was the Crown & Anchor study, where the future cruise consultant could be found during 'at sea' days.

Deck 9 (Sun Deck) was perhaps the most popular deck because it contained the Windjammer Café, main outdoor pool area, Solarium, and health & beauty areas. The Windjammer Café was the place for morning and lunch buffets, and evening alternative dining. In our opinion it was not well designed and the buffet sections on each side of the ship ended in narrow single person walkways that were always congested. There was also a center food station between the two buffet areas that served made-to-order eggs in the morning and specialty sandwiches at lunch. We will talk about the food served here in the Dining section later in this report. We also felt that the dining area was too small for the size of the ship. Every time we went up to the buffet for lunch (between 12:00-12:30PM) there were no vacant tables, so we ended up taking our trays of food back to our cabin and eating on the balcony. Evening alternative dining did not require reservations, and consisted of a cooked-to-order entrée with everything else buffet style. We never tried this venue at night, but friends on board said that it was quite good.

The Outdoor Pool was quite attractive but always crowded. It contained a large pool with both deep and shallow sections, and 2 whirlpool tubs. Towels were always readily available. The pool and whirlpools were typically open until 9:00PM. Lounge chairs in the immediate vicinity of the pool were limited, but more were available on Deck 10 above.

The Solarium area housed an indoor pool, bar, and grill kitchen where hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and pizza were served every day ( usually from 10:00AM-7:00PM ). Ice cream was also available almost every afternoon. The glass enclosed solarium was kept surprisingly comfortable and was not hot as one would expect with the sun beating down all day. Here we could always find lounge chairs.

At the very back of this deck was the gymnasium, saunas, beauty salon, and massage/therapy rooms. The gym was very well equipped but periodically crowded. There was a small sun deck with lounge chairs accessed through the spa complex.

Deck 10 (Compass Deck) contained the jogging/walking track (4 laps = 1 mile) as well as plenty of supplemental lounge chairs overlooking the pool area below. At the very back of the ship on this deck was the miniature golf course called Legend of the Links. It was a lot of fun and very popular. Tournaments were a frequent daily activity. At the very front of this deck was an arcade filled with interactive games, and the children's area called Club Ocean. There was also an adjacent area for teens with a television room, billiard table, dance floor, and music booth. There were separate daily programs available for several age groups, but we cannot attest to how well attended nor how well organized these programs were. There were not too many children on board.

Deck 11 (Viking Crown Deck) contained the RCI trademark Viking Crown Lounge. This is a great lounge with a fairly large dance floor and stage, plus multiple levels of seating. This is a multi-purpose lounge that serves as a primary viewing area for surrounding scenery and the deck below, as well as a place for pre-dinner dancing and cocktails, and finally it becomes the late night disco.

Accommodations & Stateroom Service

Tommie & I enjoyed the luxury of an Owner's Suite on Deck 8 (#8002), a complimentary upgrade from the Category C we originally booked. This 540 sq ft stateroom was the largest we have ever had on a cruise ship and it was outstanding. It had a huge living room and dining room section that was separated from the sleeping area by french windows. The dining room contained a table with 2 chairs, small refrigerator (but NOT a stocked mini-bar as on some ships), bar with a supply of glasses sufficient for entertaining a large party, and cabinets with dishes and cutlery. The living room had two sofas (one was a sofa bed), 2 side chairs with foot stools, coffee table, large screen TV, VCR, 5-disc CD changer, and component stereo system with surround sound. From the living room were large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors to the private balcony, where we found 2 reclining lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs, a dining table, and a cocktail table. Yet there was still ample room to lounge around, and the glass balcony railing gave beautiful views of the ocean. The bedroom section contained a king size bed with writing desk opposite, innumerable drawers and shelves (the first time we were NOT able to fill all our storage space!), and 2 nd large screen TV & VCR. Adjacent to the bedroom was the suite entrance alcove, with 3 clothes closets and a chest of drawers. From there one accessed the gorgeous marble bath with it's Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, toilet, bidet, and double sink vanity with more cupboards and behind-the-mirror shelves.

The suite was quite incredible, but it did suffer from a few annoyances. Although we could hear NO noises from adjacent cabins, we did hear some sounds (dishwasher, slamming trays, etc.) from the kitchen area of the Windjammer Café one deck above. Fortunately this was typically during the late morning and early afternoon hours-so it never prevented us from getting a good night's sleep-but we were awakened a bit earlier than desired on a few mornings. Also, despite the wonderful amenities included in the suite, there was no collection of videos or CD's onboard to enjoy with the comprehensive electronic equipment. Our butler was good enough to let us use several CD's from her own collection during the cruise.

This brings us to the topic of the butler. The Royal Journeys on the Legend are the ONLY itineraries where butlers are provided for the suite categories. If you call Royal Caribbean about amenities provided by the butlers, 9 out of 10 booking agents will tell you emphatically that RCI does not provide butler service (we even have an email to that effect). When you then point out the place in their own brochures that speak of the butlers, and finally find that 1 in 10 person who will acknowledge the amenity, they will NOT be able to tell you what services they provide. So for those who may be fortunate enough to enjoy this indulgence on a future cruise, let us say that the butler service provided on the Legend is excellent: not quite on par with Celebrity (but a close 2 nd), and certainly better than used to be provided on Princess. For the record, the butlers offer the following services:

- Arranging cocktail parties in stateroom, and setup for special functions - Packing and unpacking of luggage, folding & packing of clothes and shoes - Shoeshine service - Pressing clothes and providing laundry service - Serving Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner ( off the dining room menu) in stateroom - Serving coffee, tea or snacks in stateroom, freshly squeezed orange juice on request - Picking up & delivering messages

Our butler, Christina, was very efficient and could be reached via pager on request. She also delivered evening hors d'oeuvres almost every night of the cruise.

Our stateroom attendant was also very proficient and we rarely saw him throughout the cruise. Unlike our last cruise on Celebrity's Millennium where the room steward was very intrusive, failed to clean the cabin properly, and often forgot to deliver requested items (ice), this time the service was as good as it gets. Our steward even left 'towel animals' for our amusement several nights throughout the cruise.

Dining & Dining Service

Windjammer Café

The food in the Windjammer Café was okay, but was just the typical buffet fare. Everyday for lunch there was usually a choice of some fish, meat, potatoes, and vegetables plus soup and salad and a freshly carved roast of some kind (beef, pork, ham, etc.). Between the port & starboard buffet stations was a counter where made-to-order eggs were served during breakfast, and fresh made sandwiches could be obtained during lunch. Lunch barbeques were also available numerous times throughout the cruise, and they were prepared on deck outside the Windjammer and served on buffet tables by the pool. Tommie & I only ate breakfast here once because we preferred to have it in our cabin (room service for suites includes a FULL breakfast, not just the traditional continental fare), so we cannot really comment on how the food was for breakfast. As we mentioned earlier, this place was always crowded and we could rarely find a table when we went here to eat. Waiters were present but they never carried trays for women, nor helped people find a place to dine. After the 4 th day of the cruise, we got so frustrated with the lack of space in the Windjammer that we went to the dining room for lunch for the rest of the trip.

Solarium Grill

Here grill items were available everyday for the longest period of time we have ever seen on any cruise (usually 10:00AM-7:00PM). These included hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries, and various pizzas that were quite good. During morning and afternoon hours an ice cream wagon also served a variety of wonderful ice creams, with an incredible assortment of sauces, nuts, and other toppings.

Romeo & Juliet Dining Room

Royal Caribbean is NOT renowned for their food, and this was certainly true on this cruise. The selection, presentation, and quality of food are definitely inferior to Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America. Yet people we met on board, who had been on the Legend only a year earlier, said the food was very much improved since their previous experience. Nonetheless, dinner usually offered only 3 entrée choices: 1 beef, 1 alternating chicken or fish, and 1 vegetarian. Several nights throughout the cruise a regional menu was added, and this provided one additional entrée choice. However the beef was usually a bit tough and the chicken was frequently dry, but the fish and regional specials were usually good (but NOT excellent). Fortunately the appetizers, soups, salads, and desserts were outstanding and salvaged what would have otherwise been mediocre meals.

On the other hand, lunch in the dining room was a radical departure from dinner. There were usually 6-9 entrée choices, offering a wide variety of regional and traditional foods that were almost always delicious and nicely presented. Soups and salads were also available and these were wonderful as well. We often wondered if there was a different chef for lunch and dinner, because it was hard to believe that the same person could be ultimately responsible for such dramatically different dining experiences.

But let's put the quality and presentation of the food aside for a minute, for there was something at which the Legend absolutely excelled. SERVICE! The service in the dining room by ALL our wait staff (waiter, assistant waiter, wine steward & assistant Maître D') was outstanding. This fact alone made what could easily have been a disappointing dining experience into a very pleasurable one. Everyone was very personable, friendly, helpful, and extremely efficient. Our waiter was well aware of the menu deficiencies and made a point of always recommending the 'best' item on the menu, and telling us if a particular entrée wasn't too good. When we realized this, the menu inadequacies became a minor issue. Our waiter also checked back frequently to make sure that the foods were cooked to our liking, warm, and satisfactory. Otherwise he would have been quick to make the necessary substitutions. Our busboy was similarly attentive, and always ready with a joke or humorous anecdote. Even our Assistant Maître D' was more attentive than we have ever experienced on any prior cruise. If you read our last review of a September 2000 Celebrity Millennium cruise, we relate a story where the waiter serving tables adjacent to ours was injured midway through a meal one evening, and not able to return to the dining room. Neither the Head Waiter nor Assistant Maître D' so much as lifted a finger to help the assistant waiter for the rest of the meal, and he was saddled with both his own duties as well as those of the injured waiter. On the Legend, our Assistant Maître D' Ayan routinely helped out anyone, whether needed or not. During the evening he could be seen taking orders, opening and pouring wine, and even clearing soiled dishes if he happened to be passing a table where diners had just finished eating. And you only had to mention something in casual conversation and it magically appeared soon thereafter. One evening we just happened to mention how much we enjoy Crepes Suzette, and the next night he was preparing them by our table side. This is the kind of service that makes a cruise memorable, and makes one want to come back to a particular cruise line. It also makes one appreciate traditional seating-where you get to enjoy the same wait staff every day and they get to know your tastes and dining habits-rather than the open seating concept which is starting to gain a foothold in the cruise industry. And we should add that service in the bars and lounges was equally attentive. We just cannot convey enough accolades about the service on the Legend of the Seas - it was ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING.

Spa Facilities

Although we walked through the spa and health club facilities on many occasions, we did not avail ourselves of any of their services on this particular cruise. Thus we cannot offer any comments about how the prices, hours, or services compared with other cruise lines we have taken.

Entertainment & Activities<

There was a great variety of entertainment during the 16-day cruise, and overall we would have to say that it was all very good. The musicians that alternated between the various venues aboard (Champagne Terrace, Schooners Bar, Viking Crown, etc.) each specialized in a different style of music, so you could be assured of ballroom, country western, Latin, or easy listening somewhere on board everyday. We only went to one production show and considered it okay, but when you cruise as much as we do they get to seem a bit repetitive. So our opinion might be a bit jaded (off the mark) here. Most of the other entertainers were okay, but The Australian Three Tenors were especially enjoyable. And pianist Michael would unobtrusively introduce himself to diners in the dining room and then play their favorite melodies during dinner on subsequent nights.

Ample daily activities, typical of any cruise, were readily available. These of course included Bingo, fitness & exercise, dance lessons, napkin folding, culinary demonstrations, wine tasting, various competitions (miniature golf, putting, etc.), and the now inevitable art auctions.

Several sail away parties were scheduled in a few ports and these were all very, very good. Of course the absolutely perfect weather we enjoyed for the whole cruise made everything seem more enjoyable. There was also a 'Crossing the Equator' ceremony one afternoon by/in the pool, and this was hilarious and extremely entertaining as well (certificates commemorating the event were delivered to our cabins that evening).

All-in-all we have to say that the entertainment and activities during this cruise were above average.

Miscellaneous

The daily menus for lunch and dinner are shown on a channel on your stateroom TV, typically starting early in the morning.

The stateroom TV's DO NOT provide any interactive facilities such as reviewing your shipboard account or booking shore excursions, etc.

Wine may be taken into the dining room, but is subject to a $8.00 corkage fee (if it isn't a wine that is on their wine list).

Gentlemen are able to rent tuxedos onboard for formal nights.

We were permitted to purchase liquor in one of the Boutique shops and bring it back to the cabin.

Although the daily program stated that "All duty free liquor or cigarettes purchased ashore will be collected at the gangway and delivered to your stateroom during the evening prior to the day of disembarkation," none of our bags was ever searched nor were we ever questioned when re-boarding the ship in any port.

The Voyage & Ports of Call

Before we describe the cruise itself and the various ports of call, we want to say that Royal Caribbean was NOT our first choice for this cruise. We had planned to do this itinerary on the Regal Princess (Princess is our favorite overall cruise line), but decided to switch to RCI because the Legend's itinerary was 2 days longer (16 days as opposed to 14), and offered overnight stays in several ports rather than the typical 8AM-6PM stops scheduled by Princess. We had grave misgivings about trying Royal Caribbean again, because our last experience with them many years ago was far from satisfying. But as many comments earlier in this review convey-and others to follow will reiterate-RCI greatly exceeded our expectations (maybe they should take that slogan over from Celebrity). This ended up being one of our most enjoyable and memorable cruises EVER, and we liked the itinerary SO MUCH that we tried to book it again for March 2002. But more about that later on....

We did a lot of port research over the internet prior to the cruise, and arranged for numerous excursions (as well as our air arrangements) in this fashion. We have included the names of the companies with whom we booked our excursions under the port being described, and provided a list of their web site links at the end of this report. This is the 2 nd cruise on which we have done this (although ONLY in English speaking ports), and it is proving to be the best way to see many of the sights. No more caravans of tour busses, impatient people pushing to get on/off the bus first, tardy passengers who never make it back to the bus at the scheduled time, etc. Of course, the fact that these private tours are also a fraction the cost of the cruise line shore excursions doesn't hurt either! As a result, we only did 3 actual Royal Caribbean shore excursions (1 in Darwin & 2 in Bali), and so have just listed the various shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean under each port.

Prior to this cruise we also 'met' numerous people on various cruise web sites (Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Cruise Critic, and others) who were scheduled for the same cruise. By sailing time our 'Net Buddies' group had grown to 5 couples: 1 each from England, Australia, Seattle, Kansas (this couple had done the same itinerary in 2000 and liked it so much they repeated in 2001), and ourselves from California. We ended up meeting for pre-cruise cocktails in a hotel in Sydney, and enjoyed another cocktail party in our cabin the 2 nd day aboard.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Pre-Cruise (almost 2 days) & Embarkation

Over the years we've learned never to trust airlines to 'get you to the ship on time,' and this is even more applicable today with the rash of delays, strikes, and other airline related problems that plague the industry. Thus we always plan a pre-cruise stay of a day or more at our embarkation location. We flew into Sydney one day early and stayed at the Inter-Continental, a pre-cruise hotel package offered by Royal Caribbean. We flew Quantas Airlines (coach) on a 14 hour red-eye flight that left Los Angeles at 10:30PM and arrived in Sydney 2 days later (International Date Line) on schedule at 8:00AM. This gave us almost 2 full days before the cruise, as the ship did not sail until 10:00PM the following day. The flight was quite comfortable, had good food, lots of conveniences (in seat view screens, etc.), and afforded us several hours of uninterrupted sleep. Taxis at the Sydney airport were plentiful and the 20 minute ride to the downtown hotel cost only AUD$27.50 (about US$15); a far cry from the US$20 per person RCI was charging for the bus transfer. Once at the hotel we checked in at the RCI hospitality desk/room, but had to wait about 2 hours before our room was ready (during which time we enjoyed a slow brunch). The room was great and had a wonderful view of the Harbor Bridge and parts of the Sydney harbor. As it turned out this was a terrific hotel, at a convenient location to numerous sights and attractions, as well as the main ferry quay.

We got cleaned up after the long flight and then relaxed until 2:30, at which time we headed to the hotel lounge for our planned pre-cruise meeting with the other couples we met on the internet. After a bit of difficulty finding each other (we had never met nor exchanged photos), we enjoyed a wonderful couple hours introducing ourselves and getting psyched up for the cruise. Tommie & I have friends in Sydney and they showed up at the hotel at 4:30 for another pre-planned outing. We walked the short distance to the Circular Quay and boarded a boat for a Sunset Dinner Harbor Cruise that we had arranged over the internet with Captain Cook Cruises (AUD$69 per person, about US$36). The meal and scenery were spectacular, and the dinner very elegant. We were greeted with champagne and then enjoyed a 2 course meal consisting of a choice of entrées and desserts. Wine was also complimentary, and we ended up consuming 5 half bottles during the 2 hour cruise. It was a pleasure to spend time with old friends, who also described most of the sights we were passing as there was no other commentary on the boat. There was a later dinner cruise that was 1 hour longer and offered a 3 course meal plus entertainment, but we knew that we would probably fade pretty fast after our 2 day trip from Los Angeles and called it a night before 10PM.

The next morning we enjoyed an excellent breakfast (part of the hotel package), left our luggage outside the room per the cruise line, and waited at the front of the hotel for a short while until we were picked up by the tour company Sydney Day Tours , with whom we had pre-arranged over the internet an all day tour. Since we had visited Sydney on a former cruise and seen all the local sights (Opera House, Harbor Bridge, Bondi Beach, etc.), we elected to take a trip to the Blue Mountains, which turned out to be a marvelous excursion. It started with a ride on the Rivercat Ferry boat which took us up the Parramatta river for about 20 minutes. Since this was basically part of the Sydney Ferries system there was no commentary, but the scenery was great. After that we boarded a small bus for a short drive to the Koala Park Sanctuary, where we spent a fascinating hour petting koala's, wombats, kangaroos, and a dingo, and walking among wallabies and other native Australian wildlife. At 11:00 we got back on the bus and drove for 2 hours, visiting the towns of Windsor and Richmond and making our way up into the Blue Mountains. The name apparently comes from the color of the mist that is generated by evaporation from the Eucalyptus & Gum trees. We made one stop at the Hawksebury lookout and saw the lakes where the Olympic rowing events took place, and a 2 nd stop at Echo Point where magnificent views of the 'Long Valley' and 3 Sister's rock formations could be seen. This area of the Blue Mountains is referred to as Australia's Grand Canyon and does have deep canyons, but is tree covered. After the stop at Echo Point we made our way to Katoomba where we disembarked until 3:00PM. During that time Tommie & I enjoyed lunch and then took a thrilling ride down a very steep inclined railway (they played music from Indiana Jones) to almost the valley floor. From there we walked a short distance to view the Katoomba Falls and then back-tracked past an old coal mine on our way to the aerial tram. We ascended using the tram rather than the inclined railway to get a different view of the scenery. At the top we re-boarded the bus and viewed different sights on the way back to Sydney, and spent about 20 minutes driving around the site of the Olympic games last September. The bus subsequently dropped us off right at the ship just after 6:00PM. It was a wonderful excursion, and perhaps the best part was that there was only 22 people on the tour with us!

At this time of day there were no delays boarding the ship and we were in our cabin by 6:30, where we found our luggage waiting, as well as 2 bottles of champagne and all sorts of food (cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, etc.) and gifts. We unpacked, met our room steward & butler, arranged for tomorrow's cocktail party for our 'internet buddies,' and enjoyed a cocktail before heading down to dinner. We had a magnificent table for 2 on the 2 nd level of the dining room, at the top of the stairs. Our service was exceptional and at times during the evening we had 2 waiters and 2 assistant waiters, plus our wine steward (I joked with Tommie that this better not continue because we didn't bring enough money to tip this many people!). The food was not quite as good as on Celebrity or Princess, but delicious nonetheless. Clocks turned back one hour tonight.

DAY AT SEA (Formal Dress)

This was a warm, calm, relaxing day at sea. We enjoyed our first room service breakfast out on the balcony and then spent a good deal of time touring (familiarizing ourselves with) this beautiful ship. When we went to the Windjammer Café for lunch at 12:30 there were no tables available anywhere, so we brought our food back to the cabin and once again ate out on the balcony. Our butler started setting up for the cocktail party around 2:30 and soon our dining room table was covered with numerous platters of hors d'oeuvres, vegetables, shrimp, and fruit (including more chocolate covered strawberries). We arranged for several bottles of wine, but Royal Caribbean provided neither a mini-bar nor portable bar cart, as many other cruise lines do. Thus our poor butler had to make a trip to the nearest bar whenever someone desired a mixed drink. Our internet friends started arriving at 3:00 and we spent a memorable afternoon getting to know each other better, and sharing past cruise experiences. Afterwards we went our separate ways (some had early seating while others had late), got ready for formal night, and went to the Captain's Welcome Aboard reception, followed by dinner (where we savored chocolate souffle for dessert).

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (Casual Dress)

Shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean: Brisbane Without Walking - 3 hrs, $34 Brisbane Sights & Woolshed - 4 hrs, $54 Queensland's Wilderness by 4WD - 9 hrs, $135, tea & BBQ lunch O'Reilly's Mountain Retreat - 9 hrs, $135

We arrived on time at 7:00AM and it was another hot (low 90's) and sunny day. Brisbane is located a ways inland up the Brisbane River, and it was most enjoyable eating breakfast out on the balcony as we traversed this scenic waterway. The ship docked a long way from the city, but within about a 15 minute walk (1 kilometer) to the nearest river ferry terminal (NO shuttle service of any sort was available at the ship). None of the RCI shore excursions appealed to us, so we headed ashore to see some of Brisbane on our own. Australia is one of the strictest countries in the world for restricting imported fruits & vegetables, and there was a dog at the bottom of the gangway sniffing passengers' bags for quarantined items being removed from the ship. There was an information booth on the wharf and they provided us with maps, literature, sights to see, and the water ferry service schedule (called the City Cat). This proved to be an excellent way to get around the region and see all the sights. You could pay for each segment of the ferry separately, but there was an all-day option for only AUD$8.00 (about US$4.50) that provided unlimited use of the ferries and connecting busses within the city. We walked to the ferry terminal (taxis were also available at the ship) and caught the City Cat shortly thereafter, arriving in downtown Brisbane 20 minutes later. We then walked around and thru the City Botanical Gardens but were a bit disappointed because virtually nothing was in bloom. From there we walked up to the central pedestrian mall and did some shopping, stopping for a while to listen to an open air band. Afterwards, we walked down to the nearest ferry dock and caught the next City Cat boat, which took us to the very end of the line at the University of Queensland before turning around and bringing us back to our starting point (at the other end of the line) near the ship. We arrived back onboard just after 1:30PM, both tired and somewhat exhausted from the intense heat of the day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the ship, enjoying lunch in the Windjammer Café (due to the later hour we were able to find a table), sunning on our balcony, and watching a movie on TV. Once again our service in the dining room for dinner was outstanding, but we sure miss the quality and selection of food from Celebrity and Princess. After dinner at 10:15 we headed up to the pool area for the sailing away party. The weather was about as perfect as anyone could hope for, and we danced and enjoyed ourselves immensely until the band took a break at 11:30 and the crowds started to dissipate.

DAY AT SEA (Casual Dress)

Another warm, calm, relaxing day. For lunch we tried hamburgers, pizza, and french fries from the Solarium grill. The pizza had huge thick pieces of pepperoni and was extremely spicy, but the hamburger & fries really hit the spot. Afterwards we just relaxed and read until it was time to leave for the 3:15PM wine tasting. On our way out the door we were pleasantly surprised to find an invitation to dine with the Captain this evening. The wine tasting ($9.95 per person) was very informative, and we got to sample 4 white wines, 3 red wines, and a sparkling wine. The chief wine steward gave very humorous commentary and the hour went by in no time.

This was supposed to be a casual night but the dress code for dining with the Captain was semi-formal. We met in the library at 8:15 and were led by the Social Hostess Tracey to the Captain's cabin. There the 10 of us chatted and drank champagne until almost 9:00PM. In addition to Tracey and ourselves there was the Captain and his wife, a couple from Milan who had been on the ship for 4 months (since it began its Royal Journeys in the Mediterranean!), the Godmother of the Legend of the Seas who christened her back in 1995, and another couple from Chicago. After cocktails we paraded through the dining room to the Captain's table, where a group photo was first taken. Service was outstanding-as should be expected-and we enjoyed a choice of caviar or crabmeat appetizer, vegetable or consomme soup, salad, and lobster tail, blackened salmon, or turkey entrée. For dessert we were served a delicious pastry shell filled with fresh berries, and cappuccino coffee. Dinner did not end until after 11:00PM when we were presented with the signed menu, place names, and souvenir photo. All in all it was a most delightful experience.

DAY AT SEA (Smart Casual Dress)

Another warm, calm, relaxing day at sea viewing the magnificent scenery as we started to sail along the Great Barrier Reef and among the islands that dot it's length. Flying fish are prevalent, but we have not seen any other sea life. Today there was a barbeque lunch by the pool (ribs, chicken & shrimp, as well as salads), but nothing was all that great - mostly overcooked and dry. We got ready for semi-formal night and headed to the dining room right at 8:30PM. Unfortunately the food is not as good as the service and we often DON'T find anything really appealing on the menu, as there are only 2 appetizers, 2 soups (one chilled), and 3 entrées to choose from.

CAIRNS (pronounced CANS), AUSTRALIA: Day 1 - (Casual Dress)

Shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean: The Great Barrier Reef - 5 hrs, $145, tea & refreshments Cairns City Tour - 3 hrs, $66 Cairns Rainforest Habitat - 4 hrs, $53 Cairns Without Walking - 2 hrs, $34 Scenic Train and Army Ducks - 4 hrs, $89, champagne & treats Rainforest Adventure by 4WD - 8 hrs, $174, tea & BBQ lunch

We arrived on time at 7:00AM, and Tommie & I were already enjoying breakfast on our balcony as the ship moored and a band played wonderful music on the wharf below (we are on the port side of the vessel & once again facing the pier and all the action). This was one port where we definitely wanted to avoid the crowded ship excursions and ensure that we got to see all that we wanted to see, so for today we pre-arranged an all-day Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tour over the internet with a company called Great Adventures , and a hot-air balloon trip for tomorrow morning with a company called Hot Air (the ship is due to sail at 1:00PM tomorrow afternoon).

We disembarked the ship at 7:45 and walked the short distance to the Great Adventures terminal, where we paid for the 9 hour excursion (AUD$143 per person, or about US$84 - a far cry from the US$145 per person being charged by RCI for just a 5 hour tour), and boarded the catamaran. The boat left at 8:40 and arrived at Green Island around 9:30. We spent about 1 hours touring the tiny resort island, walking along the beaches, through the rainforest, and among the resort shops. It was extremely hot & humid, but an interesting place to see nonetheless. There was also a Marine Land on the island, but we elected to forgo that attraction. We then re-boarded the catamaran for another 1 hour ride to the company's pontoon at Norman Reef, arriving at 12:30PM. The pontoon is huge and has a separate sunning deck, buffet court, dining section with ample tables, underwater viewing area, submersible, snorkel & scuba equipment section, and large roped off areas for snorkeling and scuba diving. We immediately obtained snorkel equipment and spent more than an hour snorkeling on the reef. It was really quite spectacular: not quite as colorful as Bora Bora, but with much more varied coral formations and terrain, and lots of multi colored fish. At 1:45 we came in to enjoy a lunch of Oriental food (steamed rice, curry beef, chicken oriental) and some salads. We had to pay for sodas, but the food was pretty good. At 2:15 we went snorkeling for another hour and then walked around the various parts of the pontoon. It really was a very interesting place, and a great way to see the reef. The catamaran left the pontoon at 3:00 and, after another quick stop at Green Island to drop off some people, arrived back at the port at 5:30PM. This was an outstanding excursion, and definitely a MUST DO when in Cairns.

Later at dinner, service was once again very good and the food much better than usual. Our wine steward was busy when we first arrived in the restaurant so our assistant Maître D' opened and poured our wine and brought our dinner menus. The dining room staff really appears to work as a team on this ship and it shows in the wonderful service. We returned directly to our cabin after dinner and went straight to bed at 10:30 as we have to awake at 3:45AM (ouch) for the early morning hot air balloon adventure. What an outstanding day this was in every regard, and a truly exceptional port of call!

CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA: Day 2 - (Casual Dress)

Awoke at 3:45AM, dressed quickly, and packed the few things we would need for the excursion. Arrived at the meeting place on the pier right at the scheduled 4:15 meeting time and found 5 others ( Legend crew members) already waiting there. The bus didn't arrive until 10 minutes later and then stopped at 4 more places to pick up passengers on it's way to Mareeba. When everyone was onboard we were all given a book of the rules to read for the balloon ride. Most interesting was the fact that the basket will bounce a few times when landing, so don't be alarmed. Unfortunately way through the Kuranda rainforest it started to rain quite heavily, and by the time we reached Mareeba at 5:50 it was announced that the excursion had to be canceled due to inclement weather. Apparently this only happens 15-20 times per year and it was our misfortune to be one of those 15-20. Our first disappointment of the trip! However, it was on the return ride to the ship that Tommie & I decided to come back and do this itinerary again next year.

We returned to the ship around 7:00AM-where it was now raining as well-dropped our things off in the room, and headed for our first (and only) breakfast in the Windjammer Café. After breakfast it was no longer raining, so we settled out on our balcony and relaxed for most of the morning. At 11:00 a terrific duet started playing music out on the pier and they played until we sailed at 1:20 (20 minutes late). During this time Tommie & I decided to go to the dining room for lunch (our 1 st time) and enjoyed it immensely. There are 3 times more entrée choices than at dinner, and the food was very tasty. Later, when we sailed, there were quite a few people lining the pier and wharfs along the way, all waving, cheering (hooting), and wishing us a safe journey. Cairns was definitely one of the best ports we have ever visited in our 28 cruises, and we know we will be back in the not too distant future. We tried the Champagne Bar for the 1 st time tonight, and savored delicious champagne cocktails while listening to a wonderful Latin duet called Island. At 8:30 we went to dinner, where the food was once again pretty good and the service exceptional as usual (we're getting spoiled).

DAY AT SEA (Formal Dress)

Another warm, calm (but windy), relaxing day at sea viewing the magnificent scenery as we continued to sail north along the Great Barrier Reef and then rounded the northernmost tip of Australia to began our westward journey to Darwin. At this point we would like to add a note of caution to those with video cameras. The temperature and humidity difference between the cabin and outside was so substantial that the camera dew indicator came on and we couldn't use the camera for more than an hour. Apparently many people experienced the same problem. From then on we left the camera (in its carrying case) out on the balcony day and night (on a lounge chair under towels) as the problem did not occur in reverse.

Enjoyed lunch in the dining room again, and then decided to try a round of miniature golf. However, we only played about 4 holes and then gave up because it was just too windy (the wind was actually blowing the balls around!). Spent the afternoon reading and sunning on our balcony and then got dressed for formal night before heading to the Anchors Away Lounge at 7:45 for the Repeater's Party. It was quite crowded but we found a table at the back and quickly received a glass of champagne from our wine steward who happened to be working the event. The Captain appeared around 8:15 and gave an often humorous talk for 20 minutes, even answering numerous questions from the passengers. He did indicate that it would probably be raining in Darwin but added that if it wasn't, the humidity would be 120% so what difference did it make! Arrived in the dining room at 8:40 and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the meal tonight, including a bottle of champagne. We both savored a wonderful Beef Wellington, followed by an equally good Creme Brulee. It was a delicious meal and of course the service was again outstanding. Clocks back hour tonight (yes, hour).

DAY AT SEA (Casual/Western Dress)

Another warm, calm, relaxing day at sea. After breakfast we made a trip to the Future Cruise Consultant to check into booking this same cruise next year. We unfortunately discovered that RCI has altered the Royal Journeys for next year and would only be doing the reverse Singapore to Sydney trip ONCE in early December 2001 - the Royal Journeys will not end by reversing itineraries and returning to the Mediterranean. However, they have added a 16-night Auckland to Honolulu (via Tahiti) itinerary departing March 31, 2002 that sounded so interesting we booked it instead. Hopefully we will be able to arrange a pre-cruise trip back to Cairns! It was Italian night in the dining room tonight so lots of Italian meals were featured. After the entrée all the dining room staff paraded through the dining room and congregated around our table and down the stairs where they all joined in a rendition of O Solo Mio. All-in-all the dinner, service, and entertainment were very good. At this point let us add another informational note - Royal Caribbean does not tell you in advance that there will be a Country theme night, but invites people to dress in western garb for the evening. Likewise, there was a 50's/60's theme night later in the cruise when it would have been fun to dress in the corresponding attire. So if you would like to dress for these types of events, don't forget to bring some appropriate clothes.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA: Day 1 (Casual Dress)

Shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean: Darwin City Orientation - 3 hrs, $39 Jumping Crocodile Cruise - 4 hrs, $77 Territory Wildlife Park - 4 hrs, $54 Litchfield Escape - 9 hrs, $99, BBQ lunch Kakadu National Park Adventure - 11 hrs, $189, buffet lunch

Today we had another private tour (Litchfield National Park), but this time it was arranged by one of our internet friends, so I don't have the company name. Contrary to the Captain's assertion at the Repeater's Party that it would be raining in Darwin, the weather was perfectly clear and very hot. We met our friends at 7:30, disembarked, greeted our guide Owen, and walked the short distance to his Toyota Land Cruiser to begin what was soon to become one of our most enjoyable excursions ever. We drove for about an hour until we reached the Litchfield National Park. Owen is a terrific guide and seems to know everything about the wildlife, as well as the flora and fauna. He suddenly brakes and turns around whenever he sights anything of interest. One such stop was to see a six foot water python which had just been recently killed by the roadside, while another was to view a 'fornicautorium,' which was a special nest built by a certain male bird species to attract females. He made all his stories very interesting and humorous, and before the day was over had us tasting berries & leaves and eating ants! We then stopped for morning coffee and snacks at the Banyan Tree roadside inn, which naturally had a huge banyan tree on the grounds.

After the morning snack we drove through the town of Batchelor, saw the Karlstein Castle (a Czech immigrant who missed his homeland built a small replica of this castle & was ridiculed by the residents), and then made our first major stop at the magnificent Florence Falls. We viewed the falls from a lookout, and then Owen led us down a few steps to view some rock wallabies. On our way back to the car we ran into our first busload of people from the ship, but Owen managed to successfully avoid them for the rest of the day. We then drove to the Buley Rockhole for our first swim of the day in the incredible pools formed by the water cascading down the Table Top Range. We spent a great deal of time here swimming in many of the wonderful pools, and Owen showed us the best places to experience the force of the waterfalls. The water temperature was perfect to offset the extreme heat and humidity of the day. After leaving Buley's on the way to our lunch stop at Wangi Falls & park, we stopped at one of the huge termite mounds where Owen took everyone's picture (as he did at the swimming holes). However before he could begin his narration about the mounds, a park ranger truck pulled up and hailed Owen to show us a large (9 foot) crocodile they had recently trapped and were transporting to a crocodile farm. It was amazing to be able to see & touch a live crocodile up close & personal! Oddly enough the crocodile was trapped only about 500 meters from the falls and parks where we were going to have lunch.

While Owen (and his brother John) were getting lunch ready we viewed the magnificent Wangi Falls and pool. Unfortunately swimming was temporarily forbidden due to flooding. We also got to see some huge fruit bats hanging from nearby trees as we walked by the falls. We viewed some artwork (available for purchase) by an Aboriginal woman and then returned for our lunch. There was a spread of potato salad, fruits and vegetables, various sliced meats, pieces of chicken, and two kinds of bread. Everything was very tasty and we enjoyed it all very much. After lunch we headed to yet another swimming hole at Tolmer Falls. We had to walk a bit to get there, but then had the pools entirely to ourselves. While swimming in the warm water, a water monitor (family of Kimono Dragon) made its appearance, and the girls quickly nicknamed it Robbie. The lizard climbed the rocks within inches of everybody and 'checked us out'. It then crossed the creek and checked out our clothes on the shore before re-crossing the creek and disappearing in the foliage. What a great experience. After swimming for a while we made our way back to the major termite mounds where Owen finished describing all about them. It was so interesting to learn that they are all 'built' of digested grasses-yet have the appearance of rock-and are all similar in appearance (narrow & long) to regulate the temperature within the mound from the 'movement' of the sun during the day. Then it was the hour drive back to the ship where we arrived around 5:45. We all thanked Owen profusely for the magnificent day and paid the extremely reasonable AUD$99 per person (about US$50 - the ship was charging US$99 per person for a 3 hour shorter tour). It was an exhausting but marvelous day!

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA: Day 2 (Casual Dress)

Today we took our first RCI shore excursion, and although there were 3 other busloads of people, we still had a great time on the Jumping Crocodile Cruise. We got a good seat on the bus and drove through the new residential suburb of Palmerston, along mango groves, and through wetlands during the 1 hour ride to the Adelaide River. There we boarded the Adelaide River Queen for the 1 hour jumping crocodile cruise. We had hoped to get a seat on the top of the boat, but it was full by the time our bus load of people boarded. So we ended up on the bottom at a window seat, which turned out to be absolutely perfect for viewing the crocodiles (we really lucked out this time). This river is infested with an estimated 800 salt water crocodiles varying in size from 7-20 feet. As the boat sailed up river (we were about 90 kilometers up river from the mouth) a crocodile would approach and a deck hand on the upper deck would dangle a piece of meat (basically a large pork chop) on a rope from a pole in front of the crocodile. It would then be slightly raised to cause the crocodile to 'jump' out of the water to grab it. This was done strictly with the strength of their tails and was really quite spectacular. The boat Captain alternates the side of the boat for 'feedings' so everyone gets a fascinating view of the scene. It was a most unusual, but interesting, excursion.

Some of our internet friends greeted us when we returned to the ship and invited us to their cabin for the sail away at 1:00PM. There we shot off 'poppers' and noisemakers, drank champagne, and waved to the well wishers on shore as we left this wonderful country. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then went to the Champagne Bar before heading to the dining room. Dinner was very good tonight, and after our entrées the pianist (Michael) stopped by our table to introduce himself and ask if there was any music we would like to hear tomorrow. He was quite a guy, who related humorous anecdotes of incidents on past cruises. Clocks back 1 hour tonight.

DAY AT SEA (Smart Casual Dress)

Another relaxing day at sea. We decided to take in one of the production shows this evening and went to the That's Entertainment Theater at 7:00 for the scheduled 7:15 show. We were the 1 st ones there, but the theater started filling up immediately thereafter. However, when the Cruise Director came on stage at 7:15 he announced that the scheduled "Jump Jivin' Swing" show (60's night) with the Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers was canceled because 3 cast members were sick and another was injured. In its place was a performance by the Australian Three Tenors, which turned out to be an excellent show. Dinner & service were again outstanding and we had 2 surprises in store for us this evening. The first came while we were enjoying our 1 st course, when the pianist Michael remembered our request from yesterday and played Unchained Melody. The 2 nd came after dessert. After dining on escargots, french onion soup, filet mignon, lobster tail, and Grand Marnier souffle for dessert, our waiter brought by a 2 nd dessert - Crepes Suzette! He & our assistant Maître D' remembered that we had mentioned on a previous night how much we enjoyed Crepes Suzette. This is the kind of service and attention that means so very much, and is one of the main reasons we will be back on the Legend again next year. Clocks back hour tonight.

BALI, INDONESIA: Day 1 (Casual Dress)

Shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean: Bali "As You Please" - 8 hrs, $229 per van, lunch on own Ancient Bali - 4 hrs, $49 Sights & Sounds of Bali - 6 hrs, $39 Bali Bicycle Exploration - 4 hrs, $39 River Rafting - 6 hrs, $84, lunch Ubud "On Your Own" - 7 hrs, $27, lunch on own Mystical Bali - 5 hrs, $84, Indonesian dinner A Royal Evening - 4 hrs, $99 Lake Batur & Countryside - 9 hrs, $69, lunch Central Bali - 9 hrs, $69, lunch Mengwi, Alas Kedaton, Tanah Lot - 9 hrs, $64, buffet lunch Golf Ahoy! - 7-9 hrs, $170, lunch

This is the only port on the itinerary that we did not enjoy and would not care to re-visit. The Padang Bai harbor is a long way from most of the major attractions and the island contains only narrow winding roads with a 60km/h speed limit, so it takes FOREVER to get anywhere. Add to this the poverty of the island, and people who CONSTANTLY swarm to sell you things (10 times worse than Mexico!)-in your face, tugging at your sleeves-and you can get some sort of idea what we are talking about. Of course this does not bother some people, but it is certainly NOT for us.

This was our only tender port, and we did 2 RCI excursions here (although there were numerous Bali tour companies on the internet, NONE offered services from the remote Padang Bai harbor). Unfortunately, both ship excursions were VERY disappointing. The tenders were operated very efficiently throughout the day, and of course those with excursions met in the Anchors Away lounge to be grouped for a particular tender. It took 15 minutes to reach the wharf, where we were greeted with Balinese music and dancers, as well as hordes of people. Our 1 st excursion was the morning Bicycle Adventure, and we were met on the pier by staff who gave us an instructional talk and then led us to our bikes and helmets. Contrary to the shore excursion brochure description, this was a very strenuous outing that turned out to be 75% uphill! The high temperature, high humidity, and bright sunshine quickly took it's toll on everybody. The tour made 4 stops which gave people a bit of time to rest, but it was not enough. The 4 stops included 2 temples, a rice field, and a Balinese family compound. The latter two were quite interesting but, since Bali has more than 3,000 temples, the 1 st 2 temple stops were not all that spectacular in our opinion. Fortunately, the staff had plenty of water and mints available at all times, as well as fresh fruit during the rice field stop. Nonetheless the tour was very exhausting, and a great deal of the ride was along narrow public roads that were heavily traveled, so we had to contend with blaring horns most of the time. The guides also did not keep the group together and we would be strung out for a mile, with the stragglers missing half of the commentary at each stop.

The tour ended back at the pier at noon and we immediately boarded the tender for the trip back to the ship, where we quickly showered and changed clothes. Then we went to lunch and rested during the afternoon because our 2 nd excursion was the evening Mystical Bali excursion. It started to rain (and thunder) quite heavily during the late afternoon, but the Purser's Desk said the tour was 'a go' even though the brochure said that we eat "in an open-air dining area" at the Bali Bird Park.

We were supposed to meet on the pier at 5:30 so Tommie & I went to the tender area at 5:00 and caught a tender that arrived at the pier at 5:15PM. Even being 15 minutes early, 2 of the 5 busses for the excursion were already full; heaven only knows how much earlier the rest of the people arrived! The bus left at 5:30 and then drove for 1 hours to get to the Bali Bird Park (which was only about 30km away!) for dinner. Fortunately the rain did stop, but the dining area at the bird park was covered so it didn't make any difference. We arrived just after 7:00 and it was already dark, so we didn't get to see the sunset nor the bird park itself. Dinner consisted of a buffet selection of Indonesian cuisine including sweet & sour chicken, fish, beef, spicy rice (the best), angel hair noodles, and vegetables, all of which was very good. After the meal we did stroll around what little of the bird park was lighted, but very little could be seen. At 8:00 we re-boarded the bus for another 15 minute drive to the community center where the Kecak and Fire Dance was to be held. It turned out to be a bust as the seating was terrible so most people could not see well, the lighting was poor, and it was never explained to us what the ritual dance and chanting was supposed to symbolize. The only interesting item was when the center statue of kerosine torches unexpectedly fell over and spilled most of the oil on the floor. But then it got really dark until they eventually replaced some of the torches. This went on for almost 40 minutes before the long awaited fire dance started. But then the fire dance was not the advertised walking over hot coals but merely a dancer who very quickly walked into a pile of flaming coconut husks and then scattered them around the floor (much to the chagrin of the people that had the few front row seats) and rolled around on them for a few seconds. All-in-all the "fire dance" portion of the show lasted only about 2 minutes, and was a disappointment in our opinion. Then we had to endure another long 1 hour drive back to the wharf. Fortunately our bus was the 2 nd one to leave the dance show at 9:15 so we were able to fit on the 1 st tender waiting at the pier. We arrived back at the ship just before 11:00PM, and decided not even to go into port again tomorrow; the purported low prices are not worth having to endure the crowds and peddlers.

BALI, INDONESIA: Day 2 (Casual Dress)

Today we basically enjoyed the ship while a majority of the passengers were ashore. We did a lengthy videotape tour of the ship (something we do on every cruise), played some miniature golf, and relaxed in the sunshine.

DAY AT SEA (Formal Dress)

Another relaxing day at sea, and of course tip envelopes were waiting on our bed after dinner.

DAY AT SEA (Casual Dress)

We enjoyed our last room service breakfast of this cruise on our balcony, and exchanged cards as it was our 6 th Wedding Anniversary. At 10:00 we went out for a two mile exercise walk around Deck 10, as we have done several times during the cruise but failed to mention earlier. We ate lunch in the dining room and then spent most of the afternoon leisurely packing. At 4:30 we headed up to the pool deck for the 5:00 Crossing the Equator ceremony, and it's a good thing we did because it was already filling up with people. Fortunately we did get a good spot along the upper deck railing, for only a few minutes later people were 2 and 3 deep and pushing and shoving. The ceremony was quite good with King Neptune passing judgement on 2 passengers (polywogs) and the Staff Captain, followed by their being 'tortured' (spaghetti with red sauce and hot dogs thrown out from behind a drape-covered 'operating table'), and then thrown into the pool. After the ceremony we returned to the cabin (some hors d'oeuvres were waiting), did a bit more packing, watched some TV, and enjoyed several cocktails/wine. At 6:00 we both showered and got dressed (we decided to dress semi-formal since we were celebrating our anniversary). Just before leaving the cabin we witnessed a most spectacular sunset (our last on the ship) and watched as the sun dipped completely into the sea. What a glorious way to end our last day at sea! We had a great meal, and celebrated with a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne. After dessert our entire wait staff sang us Happy Anniversary as a small cake was delivered. Shortly thereafter we distributed the tips and said our good byes.

SINGAPORE: Disembarkation, 2 Day Stay & Trip Home

In Singapore we elected to do the Royal Caribbean 2 night post-cruise stay at the Oriental Hotel. We awoke at 6:30 as the ship was docking, and decided to try the dining room for breakfast as we feared the Windjammer Café would be very crowded. Service wasn't that great, but it was certainly better than some last morning meals we have suffered through on other cruises. After breakfast we gathered belongings from our cabin and found a spot near the shore excursion desk to wait for our disembarkation color to be called. We were called at 9:15 (15 minutes earlier than scheduled), and traversed the long distance through the cruise terminal to our waiting bus. We were then treated to a 3 hour city tour, which included stops at the Colonial site, Chinatown, a gem & metals factory, and the Botanical gardens. We also drove up to Mount Faber, through Little India, past Raffles hotel, and many other places. It was actually a pretty good intro to Singapore, which is a fascinating city to visit.

We arrived at the Oriental Hotel at 1:30PM. Our room was not going to be ready until after 2:00 so Tommie & I dropped off our luggage in a day room provided by RCI (primarily for those with late afternoon flights) and headed to the adjacent shopping mall for lunch. We returned to the hotel at 2:30 and obtained the keys to our room, along with a welcome packet from Royal Caribbean. The room is very nice and quite large, with a balcony and all sorts of amenities. We read through the RCI materials and rested for about hour before venturing out to the mall once again. When we returned to the hotel around 4:45 our luggage had been delivered, so we unpacked a few things we would need for the next couple days. At 7:20 we left for dinner and decided to try something totally different. It was a restaurant in the mall complex called the Seoul Gardens, and was a place where you cooked your own food. The food was presented all-you-can-eat buffet style, where you filled plates with finely cut up pieces of chicken, lamb, pork, beef, fish, crab, shrimp, noodles, salads, etc. and took them back to a table where you cooked everything at your leisure (almost like a fondue). The cooker was a circular recessed tray with a hole in the middle, where a bowl of hot water was placed. Both were heated by an adjustable flame from below. Basically one placed various foods around the cooker tray and stir fried them. We placed noodles into the bowl of water to get them hot, but later noticed that most people (locals) used the center bowl to cook a variety of leafy vegetables and fishy things to make a soup, which they then scooped into small bowls to eat. After surreptitiously watching others we discovered that you could also obtain small cups of different sauces (who knows what they were) which were spooned lightly over the cooking meats to add flavor and caramelize them. We ate to our hearts (and stomachs) content and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The next day we decided to venture out on our own and visit Sentosa Island. Numerous tour companies had been found on the internet before the cruise, but Singapore is an easy place to get around on your own. We slept in late and went down to the Café des Artistes at 9:30 for a terrific breakfast, which was included in the hotel package. At 10:40 we caught a cab outside the hotel and headed for the World Trade Center, where we could catch the cable car to Sentosa Island. We had a great taxi driver who suggested we make a slight detour to a good shopping area. We quickly found ourselves at a silk shop, jewelry store, and watch & leather goods boutique. Half an hour later, with our shopping needs satisfied, it was time to carry on to our original destination (our taxi driver was waiting nearby). We arrived at the Cable Car Tower at 11:30 (taxi S$5.50, about US$3.25) & purchased tickets for the cable car (S$6.90pp, about US$4), admission to Sentosa (S$6.00pp, about US$3.50), and entrance to the Volcanoland attraction (S$12.00pp, about US$7). We then ascended the elevator to the 15 th level and boarded a cable car bound for Mount Faber. >From there we had magnificent views of the city, harbor, and Sentosa Island. After viewing the sights we re-boarded the cable car for the ride to Sentosa. The Legend of the Seas was still in port and we rode right over her - what a great sight! Once on Sentosa we began touring the sights. We walked among the flower gardens and the Merlion walk, marveling at the colorful fountains. Walking past the Merlion itself (13 storey lion, fish), we made our way to the Volcanoland attraction which turned out to be a real bust. By now it was almost 2:30, so we walked to the Food Court and treated ourselves to yet more Oriental food. Boy did the food ever taste good! The heat was now starting to get to us both so we decided to take the monorail around the island and see if there was anything else we wanted to see. The circle trip took more than hour. We elected to forgo Underwater World (we've seen Sea World) and Butterfly World (we've seen the one in Victoria, British Columbia), but did enjoy riding past the most southern point on the Asian continent which is only 160km from the equator. After the monorail we walked a bit more around the park, and then caught the cable car back to the World Trade Center where we had to wait in a line (oops, queue) about 10 minutes for a taxi. We arrived back at the hotel at exactly 5:00PM, showered and rested for a while, and then went out to a different restaurant in the mall for an uninspired dinner. Afterwards we took a short walk along the marina promenade but couldn't go as far as we wanted because of construction. We returned to the hotel and called it a night.

After a good nights sleep we enjoyed our last breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and then re-packed most of our luggage. At 11:45 we called for a porter to pick up our luggage, and subsequently checked out of the hotel. We caught a taxi at noon and arrived at the Changi Airport just 20 minutes later (S$11.30, about US$6.50). We can imagine what a nightmare this place must be when it is busy because there is NOT a single check-in line where the 1 st person in line goes to the next available agent. Rather, a separate line forms behind each agent so if a particularly troublesome client takes an inordinate amount of time, that line would wait and wait while other lines are moving. Fortunately the lines at the Singapore Air check-in counters were short and we had our boarding passes 10 minutes later. Aside from the potential check-in problems, this is a lovely airport with vast amounts of space, plenty of shops and stores (at normal prices), an Orchid Garden, and several food courts. We're amazed how such a vast airport survives because the number of departing flights could be listed on just 2 television monitors. We entered this area through Immigration at 12:30 and spent the next 2 hours shopping, eating lunch and then waiting for our 5:30 flight. The flight left 15 minutes late, but Singapore Air-even in coach-was a terrific airline - the food and amenities onboard were excellent. We both spent a good deal of the flight watching the onboard entertainment on our personal video screens. A small control device could be removed from the armrest allowing us to choose from 12 different movies, 10 different short features, a multitude of musical programs, and 60 different video games. The device also doubled as a telephone. With the great food & entertainment, the long flight home passed in no time.

Summary

Well we think you can appreciate from the above report that this was an OUTSTANDING cruise in virtually every regard. The itinerary was one of the best we have ever done; so much so that we will be returning next year. The ship was beautiful, and the service, facilities & amenities absolutely top notch. There could have been a better selection of food, but we still managed to put on almost 10 pounds each! The weather was terrific, and the people were so friendly everywhere we went (except Bali). This cruise came about as close to being the perfect cruise, as one could ever hope to experience. Royal Caribbean has certainly moved up in our ranking of cruise lines! We would highly recommend the Legend of the Seas and the Royal Journeys (called Exotic Journeys next year) to anyone seeking more exotic destinations (Cairns & Darwin were exceptional) and a truly memorable cruise experience.

We hope that some of the information contained in this report will be of assistance to those who might be contemplating a cruise on Legend of the Seas, and would welcome any questions or comments at the email address shown at the beginning of the report.

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