Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeLarge

Insider Take

Overview

One of our favorite “Spirit-class” Carnival vessels due to its smaller size but modern amenities. Lovely staterooms, best Carnival service.Read More

Best For People Who Want

A budget/mid-priced cruise; a high energy, Las Vegas-style atmosphere with a vast array of activities in a glamorous atmosphere at a budget/mid-priced range; spacious spa and fitness facilities, plenty of activities for children; large fitness/spa facilities; large cabins, many of then with balconies, many for three and four passengers; many choices of excellent nightlife; an expansive casino, above average food and friendly, although unpolished, service.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A quiet vacation away from large crowds and children; a more subdued atmosphere.

Onboard Experience

The 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend is the third ship in Carnival’s new Spirit-class of ships (sister ships Carnival Spirit, Carnival Legend and Carnival Miracle). As with her sisters, this ship has some great new ideas for carnival including a wedding chapel. With 80% of all outside cabins on this 88,500-ton ship having balconies, from the outside the ship looks more like a hotel than a cruise ship, which is appropriate because from the supper club located high in the funnel down to the the dance club tucked away literally on deck one, the amazing “turned on its head” interior decoration on these ships is so state of the art that the fact that the entire vessel actually moves on water becomes ancillary to the experience at hand, which is just enjoying your vacation. These are some of the most well-designed ships in the industry, with Azipod navigation outside, and easy to navigate insides with good crowd flow and lovely cabins with everything right where it is supposed to be.

Public Rooms

Deck 2, the Promenade, is the deck from which one learns to navigate the corridors from the atrium to the Follies Showroom in the bow to the Truffles Restaurant in the stern. At the base of this spectacular atrium is the lovely Legend Lobby with a bar and a stage featuring a pianist or string trio playing relaxing music. The Shore Excursions and Purser’s desks are also on this deck. Most of the action on the ship is on Decks 2 and 3 where the shops, main dining room, lounges, and casino are located. The shops offer perfume, jewelry, and $10 bargains – all duty-free.

You will find the Satchmo’s Dance Club across from the Legend’s Cafe, and a sports bar entitled The Dream Team Bar (featuring large portraits of famous athletes). The generous (in proportions, anyway) Club Merlin Casino spans the entire width of the ship and features slots and and a variety of table games. Four glass elevators take you to the Lido Deck (number 9), which features the ship’s spa, pools, and fine dining, including alternative options, along with the glass staircase to the Golden Fleece Supper Club on deck 10. This swank restaurant requires jackets and reservations to enjoy their famous stone crabs from Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant and prime beef.

Follies, three decks high on Decks 2, 3, and 4, is Legend’s primary showroom, and it has everything a state-of-the-art cruise ship theater could ever boast of including great sight lines and plenty of seats. Also on Deck 4 is the children’s video arcade called “Gigabytes Arcade”, while the children’s club Noah’s Ark is on Deck 5. Kids can be kept busy with the computer lab, PlayStation area, candy-making machine, and sand art area, all connected by tunnels. The Enchanted Forest on Deck 3, while skirting the showroom, provides a peaceful rest-place to recharge before heading back to the excitement. The passenger cabins are on the remaining decks.

Cuisine

As we have mentioned before, the dining room food on Carnival is surprisingly good, much better than one would expect from a mid-price ship formerly known as a party boat. Carnival deserves a lot of credit (and they have a lot of experience) for getting this part of the cruise experience right. There are standard items on the menu every night, as well changing entrees that include low-carb and vegetarian selections.

Restaurants

Truffles is the one dining room for all 2100+ passengers serving up to 1000 people at any given time surprisingly effectively. There are booths as well as tables for two (and four, six and eight), and an annex called the Private Club with tables for eight and sometimes 10. The main dining room has early (5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m.) and late (8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) seatings. The Supper Club is open from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Table service is also available in the informal Unicorn Cafe from 6:00 to 9:30.

The Lido restaurant, Unicorn Cafe, also features a variety of specialty food stations in addition the usual buffet line. The international stations offer such tasty choices as Japanese, Indian, Chinese, deli-style sandwiches, pizza and other pasta, and hamburgers and hot dogs. There is a different meat featured at the carving station daily.

If beef is your passion, you will be very pleased with the 18-ounce prime rib and porterhouse, 14-ounce New York strip, or 9-ounce filet mignon found at Golden Fleece Supper Club, where reservations and jackets for men are required (and a $25 charge is added to your Sail & Sign card). Obviously specializing in special occasions, they also offer champagne and caviar (at an additional charge).

Room service is available 24-hours a day, but is not really a great reason to skip a meal outside your cabin. You don’t want to miss the coffee bar’s delightful desserts and pastries. The pizza bar, including an excellent Caesar salad, and New York deli are also available 24/7. For dessert, there is a self-serve soft ice cream and frozen yogurt stand.

Service

Carnival has developed a new way to serve its guests that ensures prompt and efficient service from friendly and courteous staff. This ‘team service’ concept entails four tables being attended by a headwaiter and several assistants. The enthusiastic staff learn the passengers’ names and preferences, resulting in their favorite drinks, bread, and extras being on the table when they arrive. The nightly entertainment and dances performed by the staff give the whole ship a warm and informal feeling.

Tipping

Gratuities include $5.50 for the Dining Room staff, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the service in the alternative dining rooms. This makes for a total of $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two). You can prepay this charge or have it automatically added to your Sail & Sign card. The pre-paid gratuities are mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere. The purser’s desk will increase or decrease this amount at your request throughout the cruise. The $10 charge does not include tips for the spa, casino, room service, maitre d’ or other staff. All beverage tabs have a 15% gratuity already included.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for the maitre d’, room service, spa, casino and other staff are at the passenger’s discretion.

Entertainment

Along with regularly featured entertainers such as magicians, comedians, jugglers, ventriloquists, and various types of musicians (all at the Versailles Lounge), the Carnival’s main entertainment is its Vegas-style show. This multi-million dollar production includes two singers, five male and nine female dancers, along with special guests, and is sure to leave you feeling well and truly entertained. The costumes alone cost half a million bucks!

Attire

During the day casual attire is the norm, but don’t try to get into the dining room after 6 p.m. in shorts or jeans. There are two formal nights, but most men wear dark suits rather than tuxedos. Other evenings, men typically wear a sport coat and tie or other resort-type clothing. For the Alaska cruise, you are encouraged to bring warmer, waterproof clothes, along with comfortable shoes for outings.

Decor

Carnival Legend features (what else?) “Legends” as its unifying theme. While at times the irrepressible Joe Farcus goes for more ethereal themes such as “inspiration,” this is one of those ships where the theme is obvious and pervasive, almost like a theme park interior. It begins with a large mural of the Colossus of Rhodes filling the nine-story atrium. All over the atrium one finds the banisters and pillars take on the shape of a congratulatory loving cup. It is hard not to feel like a hero in such surroundings, “Congratulations, you’ve arrived.” Unlike her sisters, Legend has more carpet on the floors instead of marble, making her a little quieter. The colors tend to be more muted as well.

Cabins

The spacious cabins, 180 sq. feet, are cleverly designed with a subdued decor of peach and beige along with wood-toned furniture in warm caramel colors. Their layout features a sofa and vanity near the twin/king bed configuration and ample closets. Other amenities are the several movies found on the color TV everyday, hair dryer and safe. The bathroom has a shower and enough shelf space for two people, along with a complimentary basket of toiletries. Other room options are the 230 sq. feet deluxe ocean-view balcony cabin and the 245 sq. feet cabin with a 220 sq. feet wrap-around balcony. Other suites are the 300 sq. feet suite with a 115 sq. feet balcony and the 275 sq. feet suite with an 85 sq. feet balcony. The highlights of the suites and Oceanview staterooms are the well-stocked mini bar and cozy terry cloth robes. Cabins for disabled passengers are available.

Fitness/Spa

Legend’s 13,700 sq. feet, two-deck gym is simply not to be missed, not even by the resolutely indolent. With floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views, you may find yourself enjoying your time on any of the stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, elliptical walkers, stationary bikes, or treadmills more than ever before. There’s a jogging deck surrounding the forward Sky Deck; 15 times around equals a mile. Saunas and steam rooms are available for both sexes, along with an adult only whirlpool. Steiner’s of London operates the nearby Helen of Troy Salon where guests can indulge in any beauty treatment or massage they desire. Ladies are very apt to feel like Greek goddesses in the salon, which features Doric columns and Greek vase motifs as part of a beautiful mural.

Ship Overview

The third ship in the Spirit-class, Carnival Legend entered service in 2002 and will receive a major refurbishment in 2013, when Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades are introduced, including new casual dining options, poolside bars, and additional entertainment options. Carnival Legend passengers explore ports of call in the Western Caribbean from her home port in Tampa and also have the opportunity to sail transatlantic crossings when she repositions to Europe. Once she crosses the Atlantic, the ship offers 12-night Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Venice, as well as 12-night voyages through northern Europe from Dover.

Spirit-class vessels may have seemed like throwbacks in size when they launched, but these sleek ships have the advantage of fitting through the Panama Canal’s original locks and, with their additional length, include all the trademark characteristics of their larger fleetmates. They’re also racehorses with the speed to reach far-flung destinations. Carnival Spirit—for which the class is named—makes its home port in Australia, primarily serving the Australian and New Zealand markets.

A rosy red skylight in the front bulkhead of the funnel—which houses the reservations-only upscale steak house—caps a soaring, 11-deck atrium. Lovely chapels are available for weddings, either upon embarkation or while in a port of call, and are also used for occasional shipboard religious services.

The upper and lower interior promenade decks are unhampered by a mid-ship restaurant or galley, which means that passenger flow throughout the ships is much improved over earlier, and even subsequent, designs.

The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

  • 12 passenger decks
  • specialty restaurant, dining room, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator
  • 3 pools (1 indoor), children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 7 bars, casino, 2 dance clubs, library, show room, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • laundry facilities, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
The enclosed space located forward on the promenade deck is quiet and good for reading
For relaxation, his-and-hers saunas and steam rooms have glass walls and sea views
Complimentary self-serve ice cream dispensers are on the Lido deck
These are long ships, and some cabins are quite far from elevators
Connecting staterooms are relatively scarce
The video arcade is almost hidden at the forward end of the ship

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Decor
Bathrooms
Accessibility

Cabins on Carnival ships are spacious, and these are no exception. Nearly 80% have an ocean view and, of those, more than 80% have balconies. Suites and some ocean-view cabins have private balconies outfitted with chairs and tables; some cabins have balconies at least 50% larger than average. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. High-thread-count linens and plush pillows and duvets are a luxurious touch in all accommodations. Suites also have a whirlpool tub and walk-in closet. Decks 5, 6, and 7 each have a pair of balcony staterooms that connect to adjoining interior staterooms that are ideal for families because of their close proximity to children and teen areas.

Light-wood cabinetry, soft pastels, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, a hair dryer, and a seating area with sofa, chair, and table are typical for ocean-view cabins and suites. Inside cabins have ample room but no seating area.

Extras include shampoo and bath gel provided in shower-mounted dispensers, as well as fluffy towels and a wall-mounted magnifying mirror. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.

Sixteen staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.

Food & Drink

Food

One formal restaurant serves open seating breakfast and lunch and adds a brunch on sea days; it also serves dinner in two traditional assigned evening seatings or an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet with stations offers a variety of food choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines); at night it serves casual dinners. A pizzeria and poolside Guy’s Burger Joint, for burgers and fries, and BlueIguana Cantina, serving burritos, tacos, and all the trimmings, round out casual options. There’s also an upscale steak house and a sushi restaurant that require reservations and an additional charge. A specialty coffee bar and patisserie and sushi bar have per-item charges. Taste Bar serves complimentary appetizers before dinner and light snacks during the day; room service operates round the clock with a limited menu of breakfast selections, sandwiches, and snacks.

Entertainment

All ships have received newly branded bars and comedy clubs, and all offer high-energy shows by resident singers and dancers or guest performers in the main show room. Spirited piano bars, nightclubs featuring music for dancing and listening and karaoke, and deck parties add to the fun after dark.

Spa & Fitness

Steiner Leisure operates the 14,500-square-foot spas that offer an indoor therapy pool as well as such indulgences as a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens. Complimentary steam rooms and saunas in men’s and women’s changing rooms feature glass walls for sea views. Salons offer tooth whitening in addition to hair and nail services.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
2002
Number of Cabins
1,062
Passenger Capacity
2,124(2,667 max)
Crew Members
930
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.28
Gross Tons
88500
Width
105.7 feet
Length
960 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/599–2600 or 800/227–6482

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