Editor's Note: One of our site readers, Nancy from Tampa Bay (along with friends Robin and Shelley) cruised on the Carnival Legend from the Port of Tampa in late May 2009. Nancy has cruised on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past. This seven-night Caribbean cruise featured port calls in Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Belize City, Belize; and Roatan, Honduras. Nancy sent us her personal perspective on this cruise and we are providing it below as a service to readers. As with all Traveler's Tale articles, the insight and opinions below reflect the personal observations and views of the author/reader and not necessarily those of SouthernCruising.com (TM). We hope you enjoy Nancy's feedback.
Sailing on Carnival Legend from Tampa
Nancy and her friend Robin hold a sea turtle at the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm. They visited the farm during the Best of Grand Cayman shore trip from the Carnival Legend.*
By Nancy of Tampa Bay
Our departure from the Port of Tampa was much quicker and easier than on past cruises. Although we had long lines for check in at the cruise terminal, they moved quickly and efficiently.
Our room was wonderful! We booked a balcony with an obstructed view.
However, upon arrival, we actually felt the view from our cabin was great.
We were right above a lifeboat so while we could not look directly down into the water, we had no problem looking out across the water.
(For example, our view from our cabin's balcony across to the Roatan dock is shown above.*)
Pre-cruise, I had ordered a wine, fruit and cheese basket for our room as a send off for my cabin-mate Robin (shown at left*) who had never cruised before.
It was there when we arrived onboard. This is the second time I have ordered this basket. Both times it was great.
We enoyed bananas, kiwi, pears, apples, oranges, a variety of dried fruit, cheeses, crackers, smoked almonds, grapes (big grapes that were really tasty) and a nice bottle of French white wine. The goodies were nestled within a basket, which was ours to take home.
We savored the fruits, nuts and wine throughout our cruise. Our cabin steward uncorked the wine for us so we did not have to worry about how to open it.
Our luggage arrived quickly. So we settled in before heading out for the sailaway and relaxation.
A great selection of food was readily available on the top deck. Given that we hadn't had lunch prior to boarding, we ate right away.
Dinner the first night was casual dress in the main dining room. Our servers, Tatiana and Chavez, were wonderful. They were very polite and thoughtful.
Tatiana and Chavez (shown at right*) remembered things about us right from the start.
That made us feel important. We felt as though we were more than "just a number" or a typical tourist.
And the food at dinner was beyond words. I had the tasty grouper with fresh broccoli.
We also ordered a nice bottle of wine. We couldn't resist sharing different deserts, which, of course, were out of this world.
(Nancy is shown with Chavez, her dining room server, at left*)
After a fun embarkation day, it was time for sleep. However, I discovered that the beds were incredibly hard.
It was surprising considering my past cruises have all been so comfortable.
First Day at Sea
Our first full day at sea was calm and delightful. We had a great time discovering the ship inside and out. We went to a tea time and also the formal (elegant) night for dinner.
We decided to have several pictures made before dinner in our formal wear. (Decked out for formal night, Nancy is shown at right on the Carnival Legend's staircase.*)
This gave us a good choice of photos as well as the opportunity to find the photographer -- Tynra from Africa -- we liked the best.
We watched her work with a man and his daughter who appeared to be about six years old. She did a great job getting the little girl to smile and look natural with her daddy. She handled the situation perfectly.
So, we asked her to take our pictures, both as a group and as individuals.
We were so pleased we came back to her on the second formal night for more pictures. She did an equally great job.
Nancy's Tip: I highly recommend having pictures done by more than one ship's photographer. That way you have choices and the best chance of getting photos you really like.
Entertainment-wise, I enjoy the full-scale production shows Carnival puts on with dancers, singers and so on. This cruise's entertainment, however, seemed to lean more toward comedians.
One bright spot? Singer Marcus Anthony who belted out Motown hits was an amazing singer and personable as well. Frankly, I wanted to hear more from him and I bought his CD!
I attended two Tea Times on the first and last day. Those were so enjoyable.
Another fun activity on any Carnival cruise is ping pong. My friend Robin enjoyed playing ping pong with another passenger. (See photo at right*).
Actually, Robin won the ping pong tournament and got a trophy -- the infamous "Ship on a Stick" as Carnival calls it.
There was only one Art Auction aboard -- and it was on the first day we sailed. I presume they did not have enough interest to continue it but I love going to those. I've picked up some great paintings on past cruises.
In the past, I recall that cruise lines often display the art work displayed for several days so everyone might view it -- and so you can guess the price on one piece. But this was only done on the first day as well.
The activities offered during the days as sea on this cruise were a bit disappointing compared to the experience on my previous sailings. There didn’t seem to be quite as much to do.
What about our shore time? Most shore excursions we booked through Carnival were quite good.
Port Call: Grand
For our day ashore in Grand Cayman, we opted for the three-hour "Best of Grand Cayman" tour, priced at $45 per person.
On our motorcoach tour 'round the island, we passed many shops, hotels and homes.
Some of the homes featured historic Caribbean or "ginger-bread" decor (Above is one cute, historic home.")
While I would have liked knowing a bit more information about the city, the people and the history before disembarking the ship, I truly enjoyed my time ashore in this port of call.
Our motorcoach tour included an informative and fun visit to the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm
(The turtle tanks are shown at left and below.*).
Multiple tanks held turtles that were grouped together by age. We loved watching the giant sea turtles swim and surface for air.
During the tour, we were even able to hold one of the gigantic creatures - a real treat.
Back on the motorcoach, we then headed for Hell, which is an area of the island that features dramatic rock formations.
(At left is a shot of the stark rock formations visitors encounter at Hell *)
While I enjoyed my tour, next time I visit Grand Cayman, I might consider renting a vehicle and creating my own tour with my friends.
I understand there are some enjoyable activities -- such as a tour of the botanical gardens -- which are more affordable if you just go on your own, without booking the tour from the ship.
Or, I might alternatively plan a snorkel/sting ray swim tour.
Grand Cayman was certainly enjoyable for us as a port call. I would like to go back to experience more of the island.
We booked the "Sights and Sounds of Belize" city tour at $49 per adult. (At right, Nancy is shown at one tour stop in Belize.*)
Unfortunately, it didn't live up to our expectations.
While we thought we would be learning some of the history of Belize, we instead learned too much about the Mayan religion.
Our tour guide seemed to think he needed to try to convince everyone to switch to his Mayan faith so he preached it throughout the entire tour.
In addition, according to our guide, they don't care much for the U.S. That was rather disturbing since the majority of the people on the tour were Americans.
In addition, the guide uttered continual "digs" with such statements as: “You think your oranges in Florida come from Florida but they don’t. They ALL come from Belize.”
I thought that statement would certainly be a surprise to the orange grove farmers in Florida that I actually know who do provide oranges to this state and other states in the U.S.
While I would imagine the U.S. does import a lot of fruit, shrimp and other products from Belize, that country is obviously not our only supplier of these products. To imply such is insulting.
When we visited the cultural center, we spent most of the time in the Mayan portion and rushed through the rest.
(An old port office in Belize is displayed in the cultural center, at left.*)
Again, it would have been nice to learn more about agriculture and other facets of life in Belize, but we just continually heard over and over again about the Mayan religion.
I appreciate that the guide was dedicated to his religion but he went overboard in pushing it on us.
In addition, the area we visited was very depressed. People seemed bothered that we were visiting. We felt unwelcome.
If I ever go back to Belize, I might consider snorkeling or another activity, but certainly not a Belize city tour.
We did also stop at Cucumber Beach in Belize (shown at right*)
Port Call: Roatan, Honduras
Our tour in Roatan, Honduras was the complete opposite of the Belize experience. It was fabulous!
Entitled "Discover Roatan," the tour cost $59 per person. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Roatan.
Our tour guide was sweet and knowledgeable.
She gave us details about Roatan's history and provided much useful information about the region.
One interesting highlight of the tour was a boat ride to view the mangroves and several shipwrecks.
(See photos of Roatan area shipwrecks both above left and below.*)
We also motored by coach around the island to see the magnificent scenery and learn about Roatan's history.
This port of call is truly a beautiful place! I also felt the Roatan people were very friendly and polite.
(See photos of the gorgeous Roatan scenery at right and below*).
Also, even though some of the area is impoverished, the local residents and merchants showed us respect and kindness.
Thus, it was a joy to support the local merchants as much as possible.
Disembarkation at Tampa
Returning to port was an amazingly good experience. We got in early. Because we had decided to carry off our luggage instead of putting it out the night before for the ship to handle, we were off the ship by 8 a.m.
One of the parties in our group did allow the line to handle her luggage and she was still off by 8:30 a.m. We went right through the terminal without delay.
Everything moved easily and quickly. Disembarkation at the Port of Tampa was a very good experience.
The Carnival cruise experience is a good one. The Carnival crew onboard the ship were amazingly friendly. The food was out of this world and certainly lived up to its reputation.
While the beds were hard as rocks and tough to sleep on, I guess you can’t have everything perfect.
As for the Carnival Legend, this was the prettiest ship I've been on. (One interior staircase on Carnival Legend is shown at left. Dresed for formal night, Robin and Shelley pose on another staircase below*)
All in all, I would probably take this cruise again.
Although next time I also might, alternatively, seek out an itinerary that skips Belize.
After returning home, I received a phone call from our Carnival Cruise Lines professional to see how I enjoyed my cruise. This gesture was a pleasant and admirable customer service procedure.
The Carnival representative listened to my stories about our tours and stops. He seemed honestly upset about our experiences on the Belize city tour.
But he also made a good point to me about not judging the whole island by that one tour guide.
I was pleased that the representative provided me with additional contact information for Carnival regarding that negative tour experience.
I'm following through and I find it wonderful that Carnival seems to really care about what their customers think.
Overall, I enjoyed my Carnival Legend cruise immensely.
I cherish memories of all the fun we had onboard as well as those brilliant Caribbean sunsets (see photo above*).
I would certainly sail with Carnival again!
For more information on Carnival, readers may visit the line's official site at www.carnival.com.
As with all Traveler's Tales, the views in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent SouthernCruising.com. We believe providing a forum for insightful reader views may prove helpful to others planning a cruise on the same ship and line.
*Photos are owned and used courtesy of the reader. They are for editorial use here only. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.