This was cruise # 9 for me and in many aspects was the best yet ! (I think I've said that before in reviews, but it is amazing how they seem to just keep on getting better.). I've sailed with Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Holland America in the past.
Pre-Cruise / Hotel Accommodations / Waikiki Dining
We left Vancouver on Thurs May 15 so we could spend some time in Waikiki before the cruise left the following Monday 19th. I believe it's far better to be relaxed and laid back when embarking on a cruise than just running off the plane to catch the ship and spending the first day or so jet-lagged. The flight over on Aloha Airlines was just fantastic. The service was great and lots of leg room for Paul's long legs. (sure beats Air Canada all to hell . LOL) Very service oriented friendly crew, lots of refreshments and great meal, more like a dinner than the breakfast that it was. Choices, even, where am I ??? I had braised beef short ribs (for breakfast yet!) and they were delicious, just melted in your mouth and cut with a fork.
We stayed for 4 nights at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. It was a really nice room with a great view of the beach. Due to renovations being done on the hotel we lucked out and got an upgrade to a Diamond Head oceanview room on the 10th floor. Participated in the lei making on Friday morning after breakfast before heading down to the beach for some sun, sand and surf. Great weather the whole time we were there. Some of the more memorable meals were at Sunset Grill in our hotel where we had calamari for appetizer and then the catch of the day macadamia nut coated "ONO"; at the Beachside Café in the Sheraton Moana Surfrider where they serve a dinner buffet which features Prime Rib and Crab Legs ; seafood pasta at the Tiki Grill @ the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel ; and at the Ocean Restaurant at the Outrigger Reef on the final night we had a delicious dish of the catch of the day there which was "Opakapaka" .... yum, yum all this nice food to get our tastebuds juicing for the upcoming cruise (not to mention to start tipping the weigh scales already..)
On Monday after checking out we had the bell desk call us a cab to the Aloha Tower Pier and to our surprise it ended up being a stretch limo. Certainly was a nice way to arrive and I suppose was an omen of all the wonderful times ahead as well.
Embarkation We arrived at the pier at around noon. I had figured this was going to be a long, long wait after the crowds of people last year on the Radiance on this same itinerary. It seemed then that everyone arrived at the same time and the organization was not all in place. This cruise went smooth as could be. Our suitcases were taken to one part (to be security screened before being loaded) and we then took our carryon and documentation up to another door. A new piece of paperwork to be filled in was the "S.A..R.S." form --- questioning whether or not we'd been in a country (or City in the case of Toronto, Canada) where the outbreak had been prevalent, or whether we'd been caring for anyone with that particular disease. Simple form and sign, hand in to girl right there in waiting room. We were in a Cat "C" suite which gave us priority boarding according to the workers there. (I had thought one needed a higher category suite than that for priority boarding, but heh...who am I to argue, especially when it will work to my advantage..)
Boarding was handled quickly and we were shortly in our stateroom which was 3rd back from center on the starboard side beyond the Crown and Anchor Study / Future Cruise Booking Area. We immediately met our great cabin steward Brian from Trinidad and Tobago, who informed us what time muster drill would be, made sure we were comfortable and advised us of his services etc..
The cabin was very nice - larger than I'd stayed in on Rhapsody and Radiance and this balcony was larger as well. The balcony had room for two small chairs as well as two lounge chairs and a table. We do enjoy the balcony at times for breakfast, coffee or just to watch the world go by. Marine life which we saw off our balcony this trip included flying fish, pods of dolphins, and on the final night coming back we caught a whale around 5:30 pm or so. (this would have been off the coast of Washington state, most probably on it's way to Alaska for a good summer feeding)
Legend of the Seas -
I love the design and flow of this ship. You never feel crowded in any areas. Part of that may have been due to the fact that the sailing was NOT full by any means. Apparently there were only around 1450 of us sailing on this cruise, as opposed to the prior one (from Ensenada, Mexico) which had been full. The artwork around the ship is very nice. The "That's Entertainment Theatre" is wonderful in that there is not a bad seat in the place. So many theatres on ships have many "bad" areas, pillars etc...this is perfect. It's on one level. The Anchor's Aweigh Lounge is a nice place as well. The Romeo and Juliet Dining Room is quite beautiful on both levels. We had originally requested a small table at the main seating ; however once onboard we checked the dining layout and found that they'd put us at a table for 10. I have a hearing problem and can't hear when there are several conversations going on at same time, so prefer the small tables. We went to the Maitre'D on the first afternoon (who was making the final arrangements in the Library) and were immediately given a choice of small tables if we'd go to the late seating. We said fine and managed to get a nice table with what turned out to be great couple with whom we intend to keep in touch.
There is a well stocked Library which is very cozy. British, Australian, French, German, Spanish, U. S., and Canadian news faxes as well as the daily trivia quiz are available. Across the hall from the Library on the 7th floor Centrum is the Card Room on the Port Side which had a lot of use on the many sea days in the Pacific. I really must learn how to play bridge one of these days.
Boutiques are set out nicely as well, back of the Purser's Office and Shore Excursion Office.
Photo Gallery is located on a floor with only cabins unlike most ships I've seen. One usually has to walk through the photo gallery to get to somewhere else, on the Legend one must go specifically to the 6th floor centrum area on both sides.
Gymnasium is well equipped and the saunas / steam rooms are good.
There is a nice additional touch of "the Legends of the Links" on the Aft end of Compass Deck 10. This is a miniature golf course (free of charge) which is quite fun to play and was never too busy.
As usual, I enjoyed all the food on Royal Caribbean. We were very fortunate in that we had wonderful staff looking after us in the form of Marlito from the Philippines as our Waiter, Cenk from Turkey as our Asst. Waiter, and Ernesto from the Philippines as Head Waiter. (who also had a great voice and could burst into song at any moment and did!) These staff, the great food, and our great dinner companions Ron and Randall from Peachland in the Okanagan made these the best dining experiences we've had to date. Mind you, we both put on a few pounds yet again from all the good food and those extra desserts.
We've done this itinerary a few times already, so it is becoming harder to pick things to do.
In Nawiliwili, Kuaua we took an enjoyable Kayak trip down the Huleia River and a bit of hiking afterward. Forgot to put suntun lotion on our legs and burned from knees to toes.
In Lahaina, Maui, Paul went on the Lanai Wild Dolphin and Snorkeling Adventure and I went to the Maui Ocean Center and Iao Valley. His catamaran girls decided it was too choppy so they rerouted to the north end of Maui to another snorkel spot. They saw spinner dolphins on the way. Maui Ocean Center is a nice aquarium and worthwhile seeing. Iao valley is a short ride away inland in the rain forest and involves a short hike there as well to the picture taking lookout. Our second day in Lahaina we didn't plan any excursions but went out for shopping on our own. The "Infinity" was docked in the harbour as well and tendering in people so the town was hopping. They had a craft fair on in the "town square" under the huge banyan tree there. We managed to pick up a couple of prints from a local artist and some CD's of Hawaiian music.
Another anchor / tender spot - I didn't do excursions this time here, but rather stayed and caught some sun on ship and enjoyed having that extra space available when others onshore. Paul went snorkeling on the Pawai Bay Snorkel Tour, which he said was better than the one in Maui along with more fish to see.
We both went on the Circle of Fire & Waterfalls Helicopter Flightseeing tour. Spectacular scenery of the lava flows and molten rocks. One can see the smoke still emitting from the volcano and see where whole towns have been covered over and roads cut off. Fascinating narration and most enjoyable tour. We purchased a live video taken onboard our very own flight with the 6 of us pax and our pilot. Having done the flightseeing on Kauau before as well as this one now - I think I preferred the scenic beauty of Kauau, but I have to say they are both worth their cost in my estimation.
Entertainment on Board:
We found the three Production shows with the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers fair but not up to the quality of other shipboard stage productions we've seen.
Entertainment was as follows: Day 1 Welcome Aloha Show Day 2 Joey Van - Comic Impressionist Day 3 Movie - "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" Day 4 Craig Dahn - 'Showman' (think Liberace) Day 5 Production Show - "Rythym Nation" Day 6 Livewire Day 7 Production Show - "Film to Footlights" Day 8 Nick Lewin - Comedian Day 9 Matinee - Charles Brunner - Pianist Day 9 Lenny Welch - Singer Day 10 Production Show - "Jump, Jive, and Swing" Day 11 Farewell Show - Los Pampas Gauchos
Of course a few deck parties, midnight buffets and all the usual festivities...
Attire was as follows
Day 1 Casual/Hawaiian Day 2 Formal Day 3 Casual/Hawaiian Day 4 Casual/Hawaiian Day 5 Casual/Hawaiian Day 6 Casual/Country&Western Day 7 Formal Day 8 Smart Casual Day 9 Casual/50's & 60's Attire Day 10 Smart Casual Day 11 Casual
A Slight Glitch - Quickly Remedied
I decided on this particular cruise to rent a tuxedo (my old one no longer fits, and I didn't want to pack along dressy suits to Hawaii , just an extra sports jacket)
I rented online about a month before the cruise and sure enough it was there waiting for me in the cabin upon boarding as promised online. I don't know what prompted me to open it up and check it out immediately, however it was good that I did. To my utter amazement, BOTH white shirts had NO collar buttons on them !!! What was even worse was that the slacks were DIRTY as if someone had dropped some dessert in the inseam area and ironed it right in. I was aghast and worried they wouldn't be able to fix by day 2 (formal night) . Not to worry though, as a quick call to room service brought someone up immediately to whip them away and within a half hour I had another set delivered to the cabin. Pays to check out before getting dressed on formal night .
A few notes people might be wondering.
Pool Towels --- a special towel is provided for each of you in your stateroom for use at the pools onboard or to take to beaches onshore. These can be changed poolside or from your room attendant. A charge is levied if not returned to cabin.
Having your embarkation forms completed online beforehand DOES save time and makes for a much for pleasant embarkation experience for all.
Soda Card - (fountain pop only - not cans) For 11 day cruise $32 for age under 18 , $50 for adult
Cruise Critic Party What this is supposed to be is a get together put on by Royal Caribbean for members who post on the Cruise Critic message boards. This was very poorly organized in my opinion. A little card was placed in the stateroom on Day 4, the day of the "party" advising to be in the Anchor's Aweigh lounge that evening between 8pm and 8:30. (late seating is 8:30) We arrived on time only to find out that the lounge was being used as a honeymooners tribute party as well, which is what the cruise director and social hostess paid all their attention to. The cruise critic people were herded to one corner and sat where they could not converse except with those at their own table. It was real nice to meet Karen and Gray at our table. At around 8:15 the bar staff asked what people would like to drink. It turned out that the contribution from RCI was Iced Tea or lemonade (which can be had for free for anyone elsewhere onboard) and nobody even passed around a plate of snacks. Had to run for dinner anyway..Oh well, the pin is kind of cute I suppose LOL I think the fault lies with the social hostess in this case and the fact that the Legend doesn't seem to get many of these that attain the minimum 25 people signing up required. In the future I would not bother going to that particular party at all.
Crown and Anchor Society Welcome Back Party This party on the other hand was very nice. It was held on a formal night and was very well attended. Ruth the lovely Loyalty Ambassador (who actually booked us this cruise last year while we were on the Radiance) told us that there were about 50% past passengers on this particular cruise. Waiters were everywhere with complimentary cocktails / mocktails and many trays of canapes around.
Legend of the Seas has the type of room safe where you use a credit card to open and close the safe, rather the type which is controlled by you assigning a "code" to it. Personally I don't care for this type as then you always have to carry around a credit card as well as your sea pass card. I like locking up my wallet in the safe and carrying just my sea pass card , unless I'm going ashore. A funny thing happened to our safe - we could not get it to open one night when we wanted to put some things into it. The purser was very quick in coming up to our room as he could not get a maintenance man at that moment. He opened it up somehow with a master and then changed what appeared to be some batteries inside which had apparently died on us. I asked him about the credit card versus "pin codes" and he said from their point of view it's easier with the credit cards as so many people program a number into the other types of safes and then can't remember what they programmed it in as.
People may or may not know that Royal Caribbean has a policy where people can now charge their gratuities to their shipboard account if they so desire. I believe it is only for the "set / standard" amounts. I prefer the old way and used the envelopes which are still provided in the cabin.
There did not seem to be a "draw" prize this time for filling out the guest survey forms and dropping them off at the purser's desk. I may be confusing my cruise lines, but I thought RCI did that in the past.
As far as cleanliness goes --- the whole ship is spotless !!! It looks as if you could eat off the floors and railings. There are always people constantly cleaning everything and the Norovirus warning signs are posted in all the public facilities as well as health info on both Norovirus and SARS in the Compass. The "bread/bun" plates are no longer on the table for passengers to pass around or grab their own bread from, but the assistant waiter is constantly coming around ready to give you any should you want some.
I really don't know how to sum up this particular cruise other than to say that it has been spectacular yet again to travel on Royal Caribbean and the people who work on the Legend of the Seas are a fun and fantastic bunch. I would definitely recommend this ship to anyone, and hope to cruise on her again myself some day.