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Sail Date: September 2013
First the good points. The cabin was very comfortable and spacious. The bathroom was well appointed and very clean, well stocked with towels and other necessities. The staff were very helpful, chatty and friendly. The lady hostesses on ... Read More
First the good points. The cabin was very comfortable and spacious. The bathroom was well appointed and very clean, well stocked with towels and other necessities. The staff were very helpful, chatty and friendly. The lady hostesses on deck 3 of Truffles Restaurant were invariably happy, smiling and very positive. The cabin steward was equally so. Our cabin was kept very clean and tidy. The shows in the theater were also of high quality and reflected high professional standards. There were three shows by the resident staff which would have drawn audiences in London's West End - particularly the magic show on the final night. The other entertainers were varied and professional with a good range of different talents. Both embarkation and disembarkation were handled professionally efficiently and cleanly - it was expected that everyone would be off the ship by 8.30 am. So what was not to like? The weather for the first part of the cruise was particularly bad but that of course was not under Carnival's control. However, the itinerary was completely redrafted on the first day because of, it was explained, the prospect of severe weather conditions in the North Sea particularly around Norway. All ports were rearranged in a different order except for Le Havre which remained the final port on the last full sea day. Belfast was dropped completely from the schedule. Instead the ship went to Liverpool. Liverpool is a nice city with lots to offer but it is not Belfast and it was clear that a lot of passengers had things booked in Belfast - including myself - which needed to be cancelled at short notice. That was a major disappointment. We were given no real explanation as to why Belfast was dropped. It was clear in talking to other passengers that we were not alone in failing to understand why it was possible to visit Liverpool and not Belfast given the short distance between the two. Carnival's clientele is predominantly North American and the menu in the main restaurant tends to reflect the American palette. Thus as a Brit some things were unfamiliar to me and the waiters were not always well versed on the nature and make up of individual dishes. Additionally, most main meals were overcooked even according to US standards. To be different one night we chose not to eat in the restaurant but, instead, went upstairs to the Lido Cafe. It was quickly clear that the Lido was not seen as an alternative to the restaurant there was very little on offer, mainly some salad items, a pizza and that was about it. In the morning and at lunchtime the Lido had a full range of items but not so in the evening. All excursions were very expensive. To give one simple example; the ship docked at Queensferry for Edinburgh. The cost of a shuttle bus booked through the ship to go into Edinburgh was $59.99 (40.00). However, a private bus company freely available on the quay was offering a return ticket on a coach for 10.00 a discount of 300%. Equally, the return train fare from Greenock to Glasgow was 7.50 each the ship cost of transport was again $59.99 (40.00)the station was about a fifteen minute walk from the ship. We were not advised of the existence of any of these alternative facilities at any of the ports which we visited. Whilst the entertainment in the theater was very good the same was not true around the rest of the ship. That is not to say that the people who were performing were poor, the problem was with the locations in which they were required to perform which often appeared inappropriate. Thus one group performed fifties/sixties music and people wanted to dance but the location was also the direct access to the restaurant and the front of the ship, a constant procession of other passengers made dancing very difficult. Additionally, after about 11.00 pm there was virtually nothing available around the ship apart from the casino - which did a roaring trade both day and night - we did go to the disco a few times but there were few others (perhaps a dozen in total) in attendance. Finally, I and my wife found the humor of the cruise director decidedly unfunny and sometimes even bizarre. I understand he has a considerable following but after meeting him in person I fail to understand why. There was one incident in which one North American passenger was encouraged to engage in a caricature of the Scots which I thought was decidedly in bad taste. Would I cruise with carnival again? I think not. I have tried to make this a balanced review; we met some very nice people with interesting tales to tell and it has to be recognized that humor and food are often very personal. The cruise had some very positive aspects but the poor was decidedly very poor and coloured the whole experience; so, no, I would not travel with Carnival again.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
I booked this cruise through an Internet agency and got it at a very good price with free parking at Dover. This was my first 12 night cruise. My longest cruise prior to this had been a 9 night cruise in the Caribbean and another to Canada ... Read More
I booked this cruise through an Internet agency and got it at a very good price with free parking at Dover. This was my first 12 night cruise. My longest cruise prior to this had been a 9 night cruise in the Caribbean and another to Canada and New England and earlier this year I had done a 9 night cruise to the Canary Islands. Also, I had never sailed from UK before and hence there were no flights needed as I live in London and a drive to Dover only takes about 2 hours. We travelled as a family of 3 with 2 balcony cabins. On the day of sailing, Sunday 1st September, we left home at 9am and got to Dover around 11.15. I dropped off the luggage and my family members at the cruise terminal and was shown to the nearby car park area where I was to park my car for the next 13 days. I was then taken back to the terminal in a shuttle. I met up with my family and went upstairs for registration. This was very easy as we had checked in online and were given our cabin cards which are also used for any purchases onboard. We were straight away asked to proceed inside the ship. This was one of the fastest check ins I had seen. After a quick photo we were inside this beautiful ship in less than 10mins. As we were very early onboard we were asked to go and and have lunch at the lido restaurant as the cabins would not be ready till around 1pm. The atrium was around 9 decks high and had a very dark feel to it. I quite liked it but it may not be to everyone's taste. We went straight to the lido in the glass elevators. There was plenty of choice for lunch including freshly made hot and cold sandwiches, salads, pizzas, car very dishes, oriental dishes, desserts etc. Burgers and chips were served by the inside pool. Plenty of choice for everyone. Being vegetarians we were pleased to see that every dish was labelled as being vegetarian or not. So no need of asking anyone about this. Lemonade, water and ice tea together with coffee and tea were complimentary. After enjoying our lunch we quickly went on the outside decks to explore the ship. The ship had 3 pools ( one inside), plenty of hot tubs, a private adults only area called Serenity located on deck 9 at the aft, a basketball court, mini golf, gym, and plenty of sun loungers through out the upper decks. However as we were sailing towards Norway we knew we won't be using them much expecting the weather to be much colder. We were about to go and explore the bars and lounges on lower floors when we were advised that the rooms were ready. We went to drop off our hand luggage and the rooms were 2 balcony cabins ( starboard side) located next to each other on deck 7. Really nice rooms with a good size balcony, seating area, dressing area, plenty of storage space and a well appointed bath room. The shower area was much larger compared to some ships. There was a shower curtain instead of a shower panel but at no point did any water drip into the rest of the bathroom whilst showering. We were quite pleased with our cabins and had a view of the white cliffs of Dover. We then went to explore the ret of the ship. There were plenty of bars and lounges, casino, a huge theatre, a discotheque, another small theatre called firebird lounge whereby all the stand up comedians performed their shows, a bright dining room on 2 floors ( upper floor was for anytime diners and lower floor was for fixed seating). The whole ship was very well appointed and didn't show many signs of ageing despite being over 10 years old. After a quick safety drill, we set sail at 5pm from Dover. As there were 8 ports of call and 3 sea days in between this was going to be a very busy cruise for most however we looked forward to the sea days for some relaxation time. As we were on anytime dining we could choose to dine anytime between 6 and 9.30 in the main restaurant or could go to lido. We normally dined between 7 and 8pm. There was never more than 10 mins queuing time and you could get a table for your party or could share with others if you preferred. On the first few nights we were given different tables but once we got to know one of our head waiters, Olana, we always asked for her table. It is nice to dine with the same head waiter every night which is normally difficult for anytime dining. However the lady who gave us tables always ensured she got us a table with Olana which made it a great dining experience each evening. As we were vegetarians, there was always an Indian vegetarian choice and also another choice which changed daily. In addition they also asked if we would like anything else in particular and we asked for hot soups with vegetable stocks as they mainly used chicken stocks to prepare the soups. This request was recorded and whenever we were given a table a note was printed which was given to the head waiter of the table so we didn't need to tell him or her everyday. I think this was excellent as in other cruises we had to let the head waiter know about our choice at the start of each meal. For breakfast and lunch we went up the lido and there was plenty of choice there. The tables were easy to find generally however the queue at omelette or sandwich counter was usually long. On the whole we enjoyed all parts of our dining and had no complaints. The desserts were all mouth watering and we all put on a few pounds at the end of the cruise. One positive and one negative now about the cruise director and captain respectively. Our cruise director, John Heald, was the best cruise director we have ever come across in the 12 cruises we have been on. He is so interactive with everybody and is always visible in shows and on the tannoy. He is very funny too and together with his sidekick Calvin, this made it a very enjoyable experience. Loved their live morning shows on tv and also their game shows like a quiz game show in the theatre and another marriage show. I wish I could have a cruise director like John in every cruise. He just took the cruising experience to another level. The negative was regarding the captain who was only heard a few times on the tannoy system and was never seen in public. I couldn't even see him on the captains night. Usually in my previous cruises captains have been visible throughout the ship. So my one advice to the captain, Giuseppe Donato, would be to be more interactive with his passengers and be more visible like his Cruise Director. The other shows in the theatre were mostly very good. Welcome aboard show by John was brilliant and set the scene for the entire voyage. Whoever attended that show won't be able to forget passengers like Zorro and Ish due to Johns excellent performance at this show. He was also very good at the port talks and made them very humorous. The production shows were good but nothing out of the ordinary. The 4 singers were good but were not given good numbers to sing in the shows. Their talent was seen one night in a concert held in the firebird lounge one night when they all sung very well. Loved the girl who sang the Whitney Houston number from Bodyguard. The dancers were good and the orchestra was brilliant. The head of the orchestra plays the flute brilliantly as was seen in one of the other shows. Most of the guest entertainers were British and they were all top notch. Piano man Brett Cave was a good entertainer and bit of an eccentric. Philip Hitchcock did well with his magic. The magic and dance of Justin Illusion was a brilliant show. Penny Mathisen was a brilliant singer and sung mostly opera and west end numbers. Hypnotist David Knight was entertaining but looked a bit staged. Musically talented Samantha Jay was brilliant on the 4 musical instruments she played and got a standing ovation from most. We missed show by Malcolm Pitt but heard good feedback from others. The only show that we didn't like was by juggler Neil's Duinker from Holland and we left half way. There was no show during the final night in Le Havre which was a big disappointment. This was because we were looking forward to seeing John for one last time together with Calvin, other dancers, singers and the hard working Orchestra band. Most ships have a goodbye show hence not having one on this ship was surprising. Instead they had a movie playing in the theatre. All the 4 Norwegian ports of call were brilliant. Surprisingly we got the best weather in these ports. Alesund was breathtaking. We did a hop on hop off tour which was short but took us to top of a Mountain which gave us great views of this wonderful place and the ship. In the afternoon we walked around the town in the sunshine and explored the shops. Bergen was our favourite port. Very pretty and once gain had brilliant weather there. Did the hop on hop off tour again and went up the funicular which gave us great views of the city. Once again we walked around the town and the various markets in the afternoon sun. Loved this small city. As there was no hop on bus in Stavanger we did a last minute tour with Carnival which turned out excellent. We went to see the countryside and the fjords. Loved this tour. In he afternoon, we once again walked around Stavanger but it was definitely not as pretty as Bergen and Alesund. We had the warmest weather in Oslo which was another exciting city. We went round in the hop on bus and explored the sculpture park followed by visiting some brilliant museums. In the afternoon we explored the castle and the fortress and walked around Oslo city which is a great buzzing city. All of Norway is very expensive so we made sure we came back to ship for lunches and went out again. Apart from some souvenirs didnt shop anything else. If once wants to go to Norway, best to go via a cruise. I would like to do Norway on a smaller ship which takes you round the bigger fjords in the future. Hamburg was the next port and unfortunately it was pouring with rain all morning. We did the hop on tour but couldn't see much of the city due to the rain. Hence I would rate this port as my worst out of the cruise but I think it was mainly due to the horrible weather. As the rain cleared in the afternoon. It was time for us to sail away down the river Elbe and I was expecting some cliffs and castles on the way which John had described in his talk. However there was none of that and the land on both sides of the ship was mainly flat with farms and houses and some farm animals. The next port was Amsterdam. Loved going through the lock and sailing down to Amsterdam. The weather was ok with some showers but plenty of sunshine in between. We did the hop on hop off canal cruise which was nice and then explored the city by foot. In the evening, the heavens opened and by the time we walked back to the ship, we were all drenched and tired. In the last 2 ports Zeebruge and Le Havre we did excursions with Carnival as there was nothing much to do around the ports. In Belgium, we did a tour to Brussels and luckily we got decent weather with not much rain. However I heard from those who went to Bruges that there was quite a bit of rain there. We saw the atomium, palaces, the grand square and Manekin Pis. This was a full day tour and just got in time for the ships departure. Unfortunately our guide on this tour was not very informative and rushed around everywhere. In Le Havre we did a tour to see the Benedictine palace and factory and see the needle and eye on the beach at a nearby town. We did this tour as we had been to Paris just last year and didn't want to go back. Would have loved to do the tour of D day landing beaches but it was very expensive. It was mostly a dry day. The sea days were all dry but on the first sea day the sea was very choppy and several people suffered from sea sickness. However it calmed down as the day progressed. On the whole I loved sailing out of Dover, loved the beautiful Legend, loved the food, loved the service from all ship personnel including the Cruise director who was brilliant and loved the ports of call. It was my first time on Carnival but surely won't be the last. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
Following Major surgery and long recovery for my wife we were looking forward to a relaxing break with our family and embarked on a twelve night Baltics cruise We were in stateroom 7111 a lovely comfortable room with balcony We had two ... Read More
Following Major surgery and long recovery for my wife we were looking forward to a relaxing break with our family and embarked on a twelve night Baltics cruise We were in stateroom 7111 a lovely comfortable room with balcony We had two stewards main one was I Ketut and they were both brilliant nothing too much trouble and also friendly with our family The ship had some lovely features and most importantly, ample and comfortable seating areas The theatre was welcoming and comfortable with some first class evening entertainment shows on a London West End comparison The lifeboat drill at Dover was a bit of a shambles crew members were unsure when and where the drill was to start The instructions given during drill were unclear and captains address over pa system at end of drill was distorted and with insufficient volume Restaurant staff namely table hostess and waitress were very rude necessitating a complaint to dining room manager (something we have never needed to do on any other cruise) The table hostess told us we would need to choose and order meals for following day every evening. My wife was unable to eat some food one evening and the waitress was arguing with her we moved table to another part of dining room and were served by a lovely waiter called Joel. The Buffet restaurant tables were cleared but tables seldom wiped sausages were uncooked and chicken was overcooked.Whilst the stateroom, restaurant and theatre were nice and warm, other parts of the ship were very cold with air conditioning running The ships hotel director was approached and complained to by numerous passengers but the temperature did not improve whilst the ship was in St Petersburg for two days people not on excursions were not allowed off ship There was no entertainment and it was really cold and most people spent day in staterooms On day we did river excursion it was raining (not Carnival fault) but river cruise boats had not been organised very well and we had to get on and off boats trip to shops was too short. our favourite ports were copenhagen Warnemunde (Rostock) tallin and amsterdam (we had done baltics cruise before and been to several other ports also) Kids club was quite well organised and children seemed happy Guest services very helpful although didnt know what to do on final invoices Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
Friday, August 16th, 2013, started off like most of the Friday's since I started working. 12 hours worth of work crammed into 8 hours, if nothing went wrong. My Karma was good, I left work on time with all tasks completed. Vacation ... Read More
Friday, August 16th, 2013, started off like most of the Friday's since I started working. 12 hours worth of work crammed into 8 hours, if nothing went wrong. My Karma was good, I left work on time with all tasks completed. Vacation started at 14:30 Arizona Standard Time (regardless of its official designation). We made it to Sky Harbor in plenty of time to make it through security. Unfortunately, our flight was leaving from terminal 4's B gates, the side with the least palatable food. I opted for a milkshake from Mickey D's, as anything else would be more likely to be problematic on a 10 hour flight. We ended up boarding the plane about the scheduled time for its departure, as there was a slight delay. We took off about 30 minutes behind schedule, which was to be expected. The British Airways 747 was a full flight which generally means if you are not flying in first or business class, pray for people that actually fit in one seat are next to you, that was almost the case, with not having access to my left armrest the only inconvenience I faced. Due to the guy sitting in the aisle seat sleeping with a blindfold, my wife used the ends of the armrests as a place upon which she could step in order to get to the restroom. That is not an option for me. Food on this flight was chosen by a sadist! No person with an ounce of kindness would serve beans to passengers in a confined space, but that was one choice, the other being pasta in a runny tomato based sauce designed to loosen one's bowels. Times like this make me thankful for a clearly defined limit to the torture. I will have to remember the British hold grudges about losing the American Revolution. British customs was a fairly short ordeal, with civil servants that made you feel as if they actually liked their job and meeting you. At least this trip has a relaxing aspect to its first stop. The taxi ride from Heathrow Terminal 5 to our hotel (Doubletree Hilton Westminster) is the first indication you get that travelling in Britain is expensive. The black cabs would run 75 to 85 BP, an independent took us there for 60. One word of caution about the Doubletree Westminster, be cautious of where you aim your camera as MI5 doesn't like to have its picture taken. Aside from that the hotel is in an excellent location for seeing the major tourist attractions. If booked early enough, it's a wonderful bargain. Booked late, you will pay more than double for the same room. Based upon our experience, it is a waste of money to add meals to your bill. The Original London Tour is a Hop on Hop off service that includes a boat tour along the Thames off of the Red and Yellow routes. This is the best type of touring for photographers, as it takes you to all sights of interest London has to offer. If you choose to use this service, I highly recommend you look for a bus with a live narrator. The tour is more fun when there is interaction between tourists and the guides. Breakfast at the Doubletree was expensive and not worth the price if it had been half of the total! The scrambled eggs were quite runny and bangers was the only breakfast meat. Don't waste your money on convenience. Places in Trafalgar Square offer much better food and more reasonable prices. Little Frankie's has a fairly good spaghetti and meatballs dinner big enough for 2 to share at a reasonable price, unless you add garlic bread. Garfunkel's has really good fish and chips. Unless you enjoy being pickpocket bait, standing for a long time in a crowd, spending more than an hour for a 5 minute spectacle and breathing in the aroma of the unwashed masses, the Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace is not going to be your cup of tea. For me it was the biggest waste of time on this entire trip! After doing the normal tourist stops in London for the weekend, we took the Eurostar to Paris on Monday August 19th. We booked it through Viator and they in turn arranged it through Premier Tours. It included the following; Round trip Eurostar travel, Bus tour of major tourist attractions in Paris (Arc d'Triumph, Champs Elyse, Opera Houses, etc.), minor stops for pictures but not designed for a photo tour, Cruise along the Seine (a narrated boat ride that is quite enjoyable), Sparkling White Wine (reminiscent of Champagne) Brunch at the First level of the Eiffel Tower. My first impression of the Paris train station came from my nose, I suspect the French must not have any qualms about urinating in public, as the stairwells reeked and had small puddles along the walls. This is not the kind of thing I would have expected in a city known for its art and food. I was glad that that was not the way the rest of the city turned out to be. The tour itself turned out to be something I cannot recommend to photographers. It was rushed and there were few opportunities for taking pictures. If you want a good tour for that purpose, purchase your own Eurostar ticket and use a hop on hop off bus. The tour is very informative and hits all the major points of interest. The principle aim of the tour is for you to spend time at the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. It accomplishes that goal fairly well. The food at the first level of the Eiffel Tower is surprisingly mundane for a French Restaurant. I have eaten at local dives on the Cote d'Azur that were far better. Is it possible that the quality of the food was due to the displeasure of the Parisian French with dealing with foreign tourists? At any rate, I can at least say I've been to the Eiffel Tower and it was no big deal. We headed back to the airport to catch or ride to the Carnival Legend. Our cab ride was negotiated for a lower rate to Heathrow Terminal 1 (closest terminal to London), which is also where I highly recommend catching the bus for Carnival. Your luggage will be travelling with you on the bus as opposed to being crammed into the cargo hold of a truck where it can easily sustain crushing damage. Most of the passengers that travel from Heathrow will have been taken to Terminals 4 and 5. Our bus driver provided a nice narration along the way and the ride was enjoyable. Dover is very picturesque. The cliffs look very nice and part of me wishes we had spent a bit more time there. The Carnival Legend is trimmed out in black silver and gold accents on dark red stained wood. The ship is smaller than many of the others we have sailed on, but that is a necessity for the Baltic ports of call. Its size also makes it much easier to learn the layout so navigating to the places on the ship you want to your favorite activities is much easier. The upgrade to our cabin was well worth its price. This is the first time I had enough space to put my shirts, suits and pants in the closet as opposed to keeping them folded in drawers. Our next cruise will require going back to my wife having all the hangers. Having a full bathtub with jets is clearly something not to be avoided. It came in handy after some of our excursions. Our cabin steward was very nice and always had a smile whenever we saw her. I am one of those people that likes to buy t-shirts of places and events I have been to or participated in. Upon seeing a particular one I liked on board, I was very disappointed finding out that it was unavailable in any size except 2XL or larger. Further examination revealed that the smallest size T-shirt in the ship's store was 2XL. Were they expecting this to be a voyage for strictly obese people? Is Carnival telling those of us of normal size that our clothing is not something they wish to sell? I can understand limiting the purchase of goods to avoid excess inventory, but it is better to have too much inventory than not enough when you have a limited window of opportunity to sell something and angry passengers who want clothing that fits! After a sea day, spent mostly in the trivia games on the ship (with the answer sheets used by the emcee often having incorrect information) we hit our first port of call, Copenhagen, Denmark, home of the Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Anderson, Danish Modern Furniture, and the favorite breakfast pastry of millions. The Little Mermaid statue fits its name, it is small. The crowds around it are huge, and because it sits on an easily reached perch, there often are people standing in the way of your shot, but if you are patient you can find an opening. It is worth waiting for that brief duration. A brief walk from that location towards the cruise ship pier you will see the other mermaid statue of Copenhagen. She is bigger in every way and that includes her chest, which is nicely proportioned. One can see that if this one had been located at the water line she would have been more of a Siren. Architecturally, Denmark has some very interesting buildings. The only problem one encounters in trying to photograph them is the over head electric wires. With patience, one could remove them in Photoshop, or leave them in for an authentic photo. The buildings along the canal are found in almost every travel brochure, and do not disappoint anyone that wants to see them. Keep in mind that if you take a canal tour, you are not going to see them from the boat. Do not let that be an excuse to not take a canal tour though. The boat ride has other benefits. The guards at the Royal Palace are changed every day at noon. If you thought the changing of the guard in London was worth seeing, this one has far fewer people, and you can be very close to the action. The only thing it lacks is the pageantry and music of the London event. It is every bit as formal and we enjoyed it. Our next stop was in Waremunde, Germany. It is an industrial city, with its 2 major attractions being its typical German beach (not recommended for prudish people or children) and its closeness to Berlin. We chose to go to Berlin. Our tour of Berlin was with Alla Tours, out of St. Petersburg, Russia. It was their Grand Tour which was to include a one hour lunch and one hour of free time at the end of the tour of Berlin. The actual tour did not match up with what was paid for. This disappointed several people who didn't take time to shop immediately after eating lunch. It is also not a good tour for serious photographers as the bus was completely closed in and not everyone has a chance to shoot because each person is stuck with the view from their window and there were very few stops for taking pictures. Our host, Yve, was an excellent guide and very knowledgeable of the history of Berlin. Had he not been on our tour, I would find it very uninteresting. It is my hope that at some point the tour get moved to an open air bus similar to the hop on hop off busses. The price of the tour is better than the cost of the train ride to Berlin offered by Carnival, and if you book this tour, ask to be in the group led by Yve. The food at the restaurant we had lunch at was reasonably priced and tasted great, but the same food was offered by a nearby restaurant for considerably less making one wonder if somebody made arrangements based on something other than customer's best interests. They also only worked on a cash basis, but took Euros or Dollars. Being partial to pork, I can recommend their pork schnitzel with French fries, though I was hoping for noodles. The return to the Carnival Legend was later than most of the normal eating times, so the Chef had a special German buffet prepared. It must have been extremely hard on him. The last time I had food this tasteless, I was in a hospital on a bland diet and even that food had a more enjoyable flavor. During the sea day, I presented a challenge to the waitress at breakfast by ordering one of my favorites, waffles with ice-cream. It was met, making a good start for a sea day. I did well at the movie trivia challenge, but didn't win it this time. They didn't specify exactly what they meant when they asked for the 3rd Star Wars Movie's title, the 3rd one made or 3rd in the actual series. The third one made was the 6th in the series. Nor did they know that "I'll be back" was used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in more than one Terminator movie. Neither of those items would have made a difference though (I had written the most likely answer due to previous knowledge of their source), as I had drawn a blank on their clue for a couple of movies I hadn't seen. I spent a fair amount of time watching ships sail by and photographing the ones that were close enough to be interesting. They were mostly freighters and tankers with the occasional ferry. I was relieved when we attended the "Game Show" that my wife did not put my name into contention because I felt as if I have been breathing in too many diesel fumes from the slow moving buses and idling ships when we are docked. I have been coughing quite a bit. While watching it from the audience, it also became apparent that it would have been extremely single sided as the contestants missed many very easy answers. Our Alla Grand Tour in Finland, had it been run in accordance with the posted schedule, would have been a disaster. Once again, our guide never was given the same information the clients received. Our guide however, knew enough of the local events, what was open and when, and managed to include stops that would have only been drive throughs according to the original schedule. It is good that Alla doesn't impose a rigid schedule on their guides, but it would be nice if the guides were given an outline of what the tour was to include that matched the one given to the clients. All this walking was starting to make my arthritis act up. Down slopes and going down stairs was becoming painful, and both knees were swelling by the time the tours were done. I had to resort to starting the day with Aleve and ending it with Ibuprofen. By morning, my knees looked normal. Alla Grand Tours were scheduled for our two days in Russia. Our first day in St. Petersburg was fantastic and exhausting. Valentina was our guide and her vast knowledge of Russian history brought to life the places we were seeing. I was very impressed with her ability to keep our group of 16 together in spite of some extremely crowded sites. We always were able to get to the right places at the right time. A snack and later on a hot sandwich were provided for the first day. I now understand why we didn't get to go in many of these places, they are HUGE. Just walking the perimeter photographing the exterior items of interest can make you very tired. To properly see the interiors of these sites would take at least a month! The first day in Saint Petersburg left us tired and looking forward to the next one. On paper, our second day's tour looked like it would be shorter than the first. We were going to fewer places, but after seeing the exterior of the Hermitage, since we were going inside today, it became very obvious today would be even more walking for us. We saw about 1/10 of the public rooms of the Hermitage which took at least 2 hours at our fast paced walk. It is a vast and expansive place, that to see properly would take a serious art lover a week and a half to see. Our tour by Alla far exceeded our expectations. Resurrection Chapel or Savior of the Spilt Blood Church was even more impressive from up close and inside. Once again, the amount of information we were presented with made it possible to truly appreciate everything we were seeing. Valentina is the most impressive guide I have ever had in all of my travels. If you sign up for a grand tour with Alla, ask for Valentina for a trip that will be very informative and will leave you with an impression of Russia in a way that fosters friendship through understanding. She presents the history and culture of Russia far better than any of the history books I have read, Russia is a very beautiful country with a very rich history. Tallinn, Estonia is a photogenic city that has many interesting buildings, some new and many very old. Our Alla Tour here was basically a bus ride to the upper city and a lot of walking back along cobblestone streets. Helen, our guide, for the next 3 hours was once again well versed in the culture and history of Estonia and Tallinn in particular. This was the most strenuous of all our tours. If even the thought of walking on uneven surfaces down steep slopes makes you cringe, do not book this tour. If you want to really get a feel for the history of Estonia, this tour is great. The 2 hours of free time at the end, was a bit too much for me, so instead of waiting 2 hours for the bus to arrive, we chose to walk back to the ship. Upon spotting a T-shirt I liked here, I was dismayed to learn mine was the only size unavailable. Such is my luck, could this place have the same agent ordering shirts as the ship? I was very pleased with our Alla Tours. They were informative, fun, at times a bit strenuous and a far better value than any tour described to me by my fellow cruisers that took the ship's tours. We saw and did a lot for our time in port and had a lot of fun. Two more sea days followed. They were spent playing trivia games, seeing shows, eating and enjoying the comedians in the George Lopez Punchliner Comedy Club's adults only shows. Taylor, the club's hostess, needs to tell more than one joke per night, or at least make the intro more entertaining! Sitting in the first 2 rows of an adults only show is one way to get the comedian to notice you. This can be good or bad, but either way it s entertaining. Amsterdam is a wet place. That is to say, there are many canals and most of the best sights are easily reached by a hop on hop off boat. An all day pass is fairly inexpensive and if you stay in your seat long enough, you can travel through all of the zones (the boat signs are changed as it approaches Central Station and it starts a new route). If touring the Anne Frank House, buy your tickets online and ring the bell when you get there. It will be a lot cheaper and faster than taking an excursion from the ship. Upon returning to the ship, it was time to pack for the return to Dover. The bags needed to be in the corridor no later than 22:00. Ensuring our bags were not going to be over the weight limit was going to be a challenge. It also meant that our carryon bags would have to have a bit of room in case we had to do some last minute shuffling at the airport. To do this properly, I ensure our bags were underweight when we left the house. Even with those precautions, we just made it this time. The shuttle to the airport was very quiet, almost too quiet. I suspect that unlike the ride to the ship, this meant the end of a vacation for most people, back to their daily dull routines. The difference between the average person and me, I live life along the lines of Work Hard, Play Harder, so I was exhausted and trying to rest up for the time change I'd have to face.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
My husband and I had a most wonderful Scandanivia and Russia cruise on the Legend in August. We had absolutely no complaints and loved the Legend and entire staff. The ship is beautiful and very well laid out. It's nice to be on a ... Read More
My husband and I had a most wonderful Scandanivia and Russia cruise on the Legend in August. We had absolutely no complaints and loved the Legend and entire staff. The ship is beautiful and very well laid out. It's nice to be on a glitzy ship on holiday and there was so much to see and do each day, especially on sea days. We were delighted with our cruise director, the most hilarious John Heald, who always let us know what ws going on each day and was absolutely the best cruise director we've ever had the pleasure of being entertained by. This was our 6th Carnival holiday and we've loved them all and are looking forward to our next one, next year. We loved the gym, which had state of the art cardio equipment and weights, and most helpful personal trainers, who were gracious enough to answer any exercise related questions. We did go early and never had a problem getting a treadmill or other cardio equipment. The gym was extremely clean and it was most enjoyable working out a bit in the morning, anticipating the fun day ahead, whether going on an exciting tour or just spending a lazy day at sea. We took a pre-cruise Carnival package in London and spent two nights at the Hilton, Olympia Hotel. It was great as Carnival arranged for a private car pick-up at the airport and then after the two nights, we were driven to the Port of Dover, in a brand new Mercedes bus, to catch the ship. The pre-cruise exploration of a bit of London was such fun and we took the Hop on, Hop off bus tour and checked out some of the major sites. We were most fortunate to have enjoyed spectacular weather on our 14 day holiday. Embarkation from the port of Dover was flawless and we were on the ship in no time, having lunch at the buffet restaurant. The food was most delicious and there was just too much to choose from. Everything was beautifully presented, fresh and well prepared and there was always such variety on each day. By the time we finished lunch, our cabin was ready and we got our luggage shortly after. There was plenty of storage space and everything was tucked away neatly. Our cabin attendant, Nant, was just a joy and she was always ready to help and went out of her way to greet us whenever she saw us. Our cabin was kept immaculate and we loved the little towel animals she presented us with each day. We did eat at the specialty steak restaurant , the Golden Fleece, and had a most deletable meal. Since we ate there on the first evening, we got a complimentary bottle of wine, which was a nice treat. The restaurant was lovely and nice and quiet, with wonderfully attentive and friendly staff. The rest of our meals during the cruise, were eaten at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, except for one lunch in the main diningroom. All the other dinners were eaten in the beautiful diningroom and all the dishes were amazing and extremely tasty. The waiters were very efficient and friendly and knew our names since we went early and had the same table every night. The diningroom was most elegant. We saw 6 ports during our cruise and loved them all. We took Carnival Shore Excursions for each port and all the tour guides were university graduates and extremely knowledgeable about all the sites we visited and the buses were very modern and comfortable. In Germany, we did take a private train booked by Carnival, into Berlin and that was such a fun experience. We saw Copenhagen, Berlin, Helsinki, two days in St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Estonia and Amsterdam. It was so much fun to look forward to leaving the ship and having an adventure each day. On our return to Dover, we also took an excursion on our way to the airport and spent a few hours at Windsor Castle and walked around the town of Windsor as well. The entertainment on the Legend was first rate and we enjoyed Vegas Style productions with the most fantastic dancers, costumes and stage settings, along with the most talented 10 piece Carnival Orchestra. It was such a treat to have the orchestra entertain us in other venues throughout the cruise. The singers were amazing as well. On other evenings, we saw a fantastic magician, comedic juggler, singer, illusionist, and adult comedy shows. All of the entertainment we saw was very professional and most enjoyable. All in all, we had a most fantastic cruise on the Legend and came away with wonderful memories.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Firstly please accept my apologies for the length of this review but I assure you this is the shortened version! We are a couple in our late 40s travelling with our son who turns 17 in early August 2013. This was our third cruise - the ... Read More
Firstly please accept my apologies for the length of this review but I assure you this is the shortened version! We are a couple in our late 40s travelling with our son who turns 17 in early August 2013. This was our third cruise - the first two being with Ocean Village (cruises for people who don't do cruises) and Princess. This was intended to be our last family holiday together before our son hopefully heads off to university. The choice of cruise destinations was based on our son's dislike of "sat-in-the-sun for two weeks" and the opportunity for us all to explore new places, with the main port of interest being St Petersburg. The fact that the cruise set sail from Dover meant there were no flights required, just a drive of approximately 6 hours from Lancashire without any air con... but that is a different story. We travelled down to Dover the previous day and stayed overnight in the very basis 2* County Hotel (NB: You get what you pay for). We did not use the port's car parking facility but chose to use an off site Company called Relyon (much cheaper than the port parking but situated the other side of town) who provided us with a shuttle service direct to the cruise terminal. Also one of their representatives was clearly visible directly outside the terminal upon disembarkation and we experienced no delays. Embarkation was straight forward and after enjoying a lovely lunch on the Lido deck our bags were waiting outside our stateroom. The room itself was quite spacious considering there were 3 adult sized people in it. Our bed was 2 twins pushed together but we had no issues. Our son had a drop-down bunk which was very sturdy and in his opinion very comfy. There was also a sofa bed if required. The bathroom was roomy and bright with a good shower and plenty of hot water. Having bathrobes was a lovely bonus. Service from our stateroom attendant Kade was excellent!!! The only issue we had was we were directly underneath the Satchmo Lounge. On some nights when we retired early in preparation for a tour ashore, loud music could be heard coming from the lounge until midnight. One night in particular was the night before we arrived in St Petersburg. Not only did we have to be at our meeting point at 7am, the clocks also went forward losing us one hour's sleep. The late music was therefore not really appreciated! As a family we had previously arranged to explore most of the ports ourselves on foot with the exception of Helsinki and St Petersburg, where we pre-booked a couple of tours online. The 2-day Grand Tour of St Petersburg and the Winter Wonderland in Helsinki. Let's start with the Winter Wonderland. Once we got over the initial shock that it was totally fabricated inside an industrial unit, we proceeded to have a really fun time. Have you tried tobogganing on a thin piece of plastic smaller than your derrire? Or a husky-drawn sled ride? The owner of the huskies was very informative and invited questions about the dogs and the work they carried out. To cap it all off we got to meet Santa Claus, where Santa's Little Helper absolutely made my holiday let alone day, when he asked "Who do we have here? One father and 2 siblings?"! Children in particular were really enjoying this trip, without the complimentary shot of vodka of course. Our only gripe with this tour was the cost. On the coach provided there was tourist information booklet on Helsinki. There we saw the entrance fee for the Winter Wonderland experience. Upon our return to the ship we established the cost of a taxi fare and soon realised we could have purchased the trip ourselves at half the price that Carnival charged! A tour guide was most definitely not needed for this trip. The 2-day Grand Tour of St Petersburg was also expensive but we felt that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and therefore we stood the cost. It is fair to say that we were a little disappointed with St Petersburg. As we were on a guided tour and didn't walk the streets ourselves, we didn't really get a feel for the place. Also St Peterburg is only just over 300 years old. Living in Britain with relatively easy access to many other locations in Europe we are surrounded by a wealth of history, consequently we were not overawed by the palaces or churches in St Petersburg. However what we did find fascinating was the depth of knowledge of our tour guide Anna. St Petersburg is her birth/home own and her passion for the city was obvious. On a down side it did feel like we were being rushed through places. In the Hermitage Museum, Anna would be talking about one room and then would set off into the next room. Because the place was so congested those at the back of the group, us included, would still be looking at the first room of interest when Anna would begin talking via radio loop about the next room she was in, which we couldn't see or refer to. Also, to our knowledge there were at least 15 coaches from our ship on the 2-day tour and we all appeared to be following the same route. As we were not the only cruise ship in port, the tour providers really need to put some thought into the tour routes and schedules in order to make the experience for tourists somewhat more enjoyable. PLEASE NOTE: An absolute NEGATIVE to St Peterburg and the overcrowding at places of interest is the risk of being a target for pickpockets. An older male passenger from our ship had his wallet taken from his front trouser pocket. The man in question wore casual slacks which had quite open and loose pockets. The only advice we can give is if you don't need it don't take it ashore, and if you do need it, guard it very carefully! Lunches on both days were adequate but were a bit on the Forest Gump side - you didn't really know what you were having until you bit into it. Both lunches came with a glass of bubbly and shot of vodka and fruit juice for the children. We thoroughly enjoyed the other ports of call. In Copenhagen we walked round the city getting lost and taking in the architecture. Not to mention almost getting knocked down by cyclists! In Germany we visited the lovely port and beach of Warnemunde and in the afternoon travelled via train and tram to the nearby town of Rostock. Here we went to the zoo which had a very interesting exhibition on Charles Darwin and evolution. In Tallinn we took in the mediaeval part of the town, walking the cobbled streets, taking in the sights and enjoying a refreshing beer. There was so much going on in Amsterdam we have decided to go back at a later date for a longer stay. In the meantime we visited Madame Tussauds and the Amsterdam Dungeon. All the staff spoke very good English which made the trip to the Dungeons quite entertaining. A walk back to the ship through the Red Light District was also a real eye opener for both father and son! With regard to the ship, there were two separate pools available to us. One pool had a retractable roof and the water was heated. The downside to this pool was that this was where the poolside entertainment took place and was always unnecessarily loud. The open air pool in comparison was quieter but the water was not heated. It should be noted that the pool side music was the same everyday. Surely after over 60 years of charted music, the DJ could find 12 days of music which didn't repeat itself. We didn't mind the choice of dining options. We chose to eat breakfast mainly from the Unicorn Cafe on the Lido deck. Lunch was either in the same cafe or from the grill near the pool on the same deck. In the evening we chose the 'Your Time' option in the Truffles Restaurant, which meant we were not held to a dining time but could choose anywhere between approximately 6:30pm and 9:30pm. We did not have the same waiters but had a variety dependant on where we sat in the restaurant. There was an additional steak restaurant which incurred a fee of $35 per person. To be quite honest over the duration of cruise we had a number of perfectly good steaks in the Truffles restaurant and therefore could not see the need to fork out unnecessary money where it was not needed. High pricing seemed to be a standard across the ship. Constantly having flyers handed to us for the spa which was permanently empty - try halving the prices, which by the way would still be way greater than the cost to me in my home town for a similar service. We were not totally enamoured of the entertainment, the bulk of which required audience participation. The Jazz Show on the first night was so loud with bright flashing lights there should have been a health safety warning! In comparison with Princess cruises who put on a Vegas style show every night, this ship has a long way to go. We did see some of the other shows but found that some had only just started when they had to end, eg. the hypnotist. We did see some good comedians but were failed to be told that the 'adult' routines were the same as the 'family friendly' routines with the addition of swear words. The jokes were basically the same. The attitude of some of the entertainment staff also leaves a lot to be desired. At one Trivia question time the host Brett mispronounced the name of the artist Holbein as "Hol-be-in". When he was corrected by the participants his response was and I quote "That's what I said 'Hol-be-in'. Look my teacher tried for 12 years and she failed" and "I went to school in Liverpool". Really? Carnival sold itself to us on it's excellent customer service. People have paid thousands of pounds or dollars for this cruise and this total lack of respect from someone with such zero customer service awareness is unnecessary. Add to this the bumbling antics of the Assistant Cruise Director Calvyn makes the whole entertainment experience quite painful. The Cruise Director John Heald was very charming and came across as sincere, albeit some of his comedy routines and expressions were predictable. He was witty and quick in his reactions to situations that at times he was the entertainment. In comparison Calvyn was loud and inept in most of his actions. A good example of this was the last Bingo session where he was totally unprepared and gave out vocal descriptions of lines required without the corresponding pictorial image showing on the screen (as per all the other Bingo sessions we attended). He also had his microphone too loud and commenced to clear out the Bingo trolley giving out prizes willy-nilly including a clothes hanger!! On a positive, Katie was very professional! We also don't need to see the constantly ogling of another human being regardless of someone's preferred sexual orientation. There were usually children of all ages in the audience and this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. And finally we come to gratuities... Britain is not known as a nation of tippers unlike our American counterparts. In order for us to give a tip service, above and beyond excellence is usually required. We paid 277.65 in 'Pre-paid gratuities which was supposed to cover tips for the dining room team, the stateroom teams and alternative staff teams. Carnival recommends that the total daily amount of gratuities is $11.50 per day per person. As there were only 2 adults in our party, our son is still a student and under 18, by our calculation $11.50 x 2 x 12 = $276. So how come Carnival have charged us 277.65 which is over $400? Also how on earth does bending down reaching into a fridge, grabbing a bottle of beer and putting it on the bar justify a 15% bar gratuity? It doesn't... and for that reason we chose not to pay it. You might think that we are tight but quite frankly in time of financial uncertainty, 277.65 in tips is quite more than enough! In short we found cruising with Carnival only average and do not envisage travelling with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
I chose to take a Carnival cruise as I did not realise the Legend sailed from Dover only 30 mins from my home and did not fancy the trek to Southampton to join my favourite line P&O. although owned by Carnival they are worlds apart on ... Read More
I chose to take a Carnival cruise as I did not realise the Legend sailed from Dover only 30 mins from my home and did not fancy the trek to Southampton to join my favourite line P&O. although owned by Carnival they are worlds apart on standards. The ship is gaudy and depressing in its decor and whoever designed it should be ashamed of themselves. The food in the buffet is average and not very often is it hot lukewarm chicken is quite dangerous and I observed no temperature controls in place. The main restaurant was poor to average in food quality however the staff were very nice and polite. John the entertainments manager and Cruise director was fantastic but his team did not really mingle with the passengers unlike other ships. cabins are clean and comfortable however be prepared if you are a smoker to be accused of smoking in your cabin if the steward smells smoke on your clothes this happened to me and I was mad as hell. the cruise is cheap however the bar prices and all the add ons are not compared to other cruise lines, entertainment is limited but is far better than I expected. If they gave the ship a lick of paint and improved on the food it would be a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
About us: This was a Dad and Daughter trip. My family cruises together often as a group and my wife and I cruise as a couple on occasion as well. We have been aboard Carnival Legend before, having traveled from Tampa on a prior trip. ... Read More
About us: This was a Dad and Daughter trip. My family cruises together often as a group and my wife and I cruise as a couple on occasion as well. We have been aboard Carnival Legend before, having traveled from Tampa on a prior trip. Galveston is a very convenient port for us. Consequently, we tend to use Carnival often, although we have also used RCL and Holland America Line as well from other ports. Booking the cruise was very easy through carnival. We lined up our flights through Expedia. I am not sure that the Cruise line might not have been easier, but that is how I did it. On the other hand, I managed a first class upgrade to JFK at least, so that was not too bad. Embarkation day. We had booked a private tour through London Private Tours  David Hamed. More on his company can be found at Trip Advisor. The benefit here was sharing a private tour guide for just the two of us, along with a nice van to take the trip in. Very roomy. The night before David had booked a wonderful meal at a restaurant in the Shard. What views and what food! David picked us up from our hotel and traveled east out of London to the County of Kent, a beautiful area arriving eventually in Canterbury for a Cathedral and City Tour, followed by Dover Castle, the RAF Memorial on the cliffs of Dover and other of the beaten path attractions. We were delivered to the Cruise Terminal in Dover at approximately 2:45 pm. Embarkation was really incredibly painless. We were aboard at 3:00 pm. Monday, July 15th. On Board the ship we found we were going to have the legendary John Heald as cruise director, along with his side kick Calvyn. Throughout the trip we found John to be funny and engaging, although he was a bit incognito when not on stage. For those who like a more accessible cruise director this might be an issue, however it was not for us. His side kick was a guy whose apparent schtick is being in your face out of the closet 24/7. This did not bother us, although we did wonder how many parents with children found adult themes such as this to be a bit out of place at times. My point is that there is a time and a place for things, and 24/7 leaves little in the way for alternatives. The Shipboard experience  The interior design is interesting but not too shocking as we have been on the ship before. It has been toned down from the Tampa times to reflect a less party-centric crowd and more family oriented crowd. Take note of this Mr. Asst. Cruise Director. The ship does have a Serenity Area. Once the area is hopefully better defined and segregated similar to the concept on Magic and so on, it will be more attuned to the crowd on this ship. I am sure this will be addressed at the next refit. There is not an apparent Spa deck program yet on this ship. I think that doing something like this would improve Spa traffic and also reduce the number of annoying plugs and announcements apparently necessary. We did late seating and hit the jackpot with our dinner guests. They were from Florida and were just lovely people. The young lady at the table and my daughter got along famously. The wait staff was very attentive. Irnya from Ukraine took the time to give us some really good tips and advice about St. Petersburg. Bruce the Piano guy did a good job. The wine and food pairing at the steakhouse during the day was informative, particularly for my daughter. sommelier tries. Nikolai the sommelier did a great job. Formal nights tended to be dressier than your average Caribbean cruise. It was not a get drunk cruise crowd. However, it was not Cunard starch either. Men can do fine with a conservative blazer and wool slacks straight up to formal evening attire should they chose to do so. The Crowd: The crowd was fairly international primarily Brits, Canadians, Americans, Aussies, a few Spaniards and a sprinkling of various other nationalities. English was almost universally the spoken language. While the average age was probably a bit over what you see on the Fun Boat types of trips, there were still plenty of families with children. The crowd was almost universally well deported with one notable exception detailed later. There was also one family from Argentina who seemed to almost miss the ship sailing at nearly every stop, including St. Petersburg (not a good idea) and it got to be an event to line the rails for their dock sprint. The Cruise Director, John Heald, even got on the intercom in Helsinki to announce a special watch sale in their honor. Very funny. The Stops: Wednesday, July 17th Copenhagen. We did the Castles of New Zealand tour and it was really good. The history is fascinating and the facilities were gorgeous. The Lutheran Church in Frederiksborg Castle was a sight to behold along with the rest of the red brick and copper roofed faciltity. Kronborg Castle is a fairy tale facility commanding a narrow passage between Denmark and Sweden. It was the theme for Hamlet and apparently was used to collect duties until the pesky Americans started to refuse to pay in the 1800s. Thursday, July 18th - Germany. We did the Berlin and Prussian Palaces Tour because it offered a good balance between WWII era history and the past and we were richly rewarded for this choice. Carnival uses a company called European Land Excursions to run this tour. The trip was efficiently run and jam packed without seeming rushed. The hostess on the train trip to and from the port in Warnemnde was Isabelle. She was warm, friendly, and engaging during the entire trip. Her knowledge of the area and the helpful tips and insights she provided were most beneficial to us. From a total customer experience perspective, Isabelle was one of the most effective hostesses I have experienced in many years. Irma was out tour guide in Berlin and Horst was the driver. They worked beautifully together and ran the day like a well-oiled machine. It was never rushed, things were on time or ahead of time, and she packed in plenty without having it ever become overwhelming. Irma was really quite knowledgeable and was able to bring the history of an area or attraction to light be it from the 17th century or the 20th. She was a joy to be with the entire day. I was lucky to have her as a guide and my daughter agreed. Overall, I would say that this tour guide combination and experience was the best we had on the twelve day trip. We saw many of the sights in Berlin such as the Holocaust Museum, Checkpoint Charlie, The Richstag. Under den Linden area, the Olympic Stadium, Potsdam, Sans Soucci Palace, Charlottenburg Palace (which was magnificent), and others. Back on board it was open seating, but we skipped it to go topside and enjoy the German oompah band until sailing along with good sausages and brewskis on tap. Saturday, July 20th - Helsinki. We booked the city tour and steam train to Porvoo excursion which wa cancelled due to mechanical issues, and ended up doing a private tour. We saw all of the things several combined ship tours would have seen without the waiting for stragglers. The tall ships were in port and it was really a sight to see. The Church on the rock and the Lutheran Cathedral are not to be missed. Porvoo was an interesting old town and we took time to do some wandering of the old steam train yards across the river which yielded great photos of steam locomotives and so on. Finland is a very nice country with friendly people. They are Social Democrats. The guide told us that there was a high suicide rate amongst young people who do not make it into the professional programs. Apparently they have to pass a grueling exam just to enter a lottery. Sunday-Monday, July 21st - St. Petersburg. The Russians are really serious about immigration and so forth. If you are not on a ship tour, you have to get a Visa in advance. We did the two day grand tours from the ship. They were actually very good. We also did the folk dance instead of ballet and we really did enjoy it. PLEASE NOTE: We were told many times about the problem of pickpockets in St. Petersburg so be careful of your things. We were told you can use Euros in many places and USD in some, but in the museums they seemed to want Rubles. We never used a credit card in St. Petersburg. Tuesday, July 23rd - Tallinn. We took the walking tour. Tallinn is a wonderful old medieval town with a rich seafaring and trading history. The Guildhalls and commercial areas were very nice. We elected to stay after the tour and explore some more. Walking back to the cruise port was a snap. The shops were reasonably priced and a savvy buyer can find some nice buys on linen. Quality and pricing varies from place to place so it is fun to shop and to deal. The town square and the areas inside the walls were the highlights. Estonia has been fought over extensively by various parties, it seems. The people appeared to be quite thrilled with their independence. It was a completely different atmosphere than that found in St. Petersburg. The internet service and cell service was first class. This place is really wired in a wireless sort of way! Friday, July 26th - Amsterdam. We were signed up for the Van Gogh Museum tour. It was cancelled by the ship. This was the third tour of the cruise not to work out, and once again it turned out for the best. We bought a Holland Pass at the cruise terminal which gave us unlimited tram and other public transportation, plus a nice canal tour, and finally fast pass entrance to the Van Gogh Museum. This was a huge home run for us. We managed to see all of the major highlights by tramming to the canal tour located closest to the museum and then which gave us a really comfortable tour before the rest of the cruise ship crowds swarmed in. Plus, fast pass entrance to the Museum was pain free, except for the looks from some of the folks in the other long lines who went for the cheap route. Holland Pass was definitely the way to go. We had lunch at a wonderful Indian Restaurant and headed back leisurely to the ship. Coming in and out of Amsterdam, including going through the locks was a joy to observe from the balcony. The only blemish relates unfortunately to a certain family in the crowd. We had a nice suite on deck 6. There was a family in one cabin with two very young children, the oldest of whom could not have been have been out of 4th grade. The parents would essentially toss the kids out of the cabin at various times of the day and have them roaming the ship on their own. I am not making this up. One day the boy was out in the passage way too long and wound up soiling himself. The steward almost grossed out cleaning his hand prints off the passageway walls, and understandably so. Plus, World War III erupted in the cabin several times daily amongst parents as well as parents and kids and this was plainly within earshot up and down the hall. Security appeared multiple times. It is a shame. In Tallinn, my daughter and I were eating when an Aussie couple we had met stopped to chat. They started to describe kids they had found unaccompanied that morning and sent back to their parents with a crew member. They were amazed when we guessed the cabin number on the first try. Folks, when you become a legend like this on the Legend, it is not a mark of distinction. With the notable exception of the classless parents, this was really a nice cruise. The ship was well maintained in its gaudy splendor, the crew was uniformly wonderful, the service was great, and the prices were reasonable, particularly if you purchase your wine carefully. We did do the Steakhouse twice and it is really a nice experience as well. Overall, the food was not quite as good as the last time on the Legend, particularly in the buffet, but we tend to avoid that anyway. Carnival has had some bad luck recently, but it looks like they are working hard to make things right and get back on an even keel so to speak. My suggestions: Dont make your customers mad by changing your frequent cruising program at a time like this, keep your foodservice reputation high, make sure to make the excursions happen, and man up to take care of reprobates when they appear. The shore excursions that made were uniformly excellent. I did not downgrade for the cancellations. Final Recommendation - This Cruise is a keeper. It has the right ports of call, great excursion options for those that make, plenty of alternatives when they don't, and a ship that is up to the task. Be sure to consider an excursion to or from Windsor Castle or Canterbury at the front or back end of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Let me start by telling you a bit about myself and my travelling companion. I am a 40 year old male who lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands (UK) and has cruised 7 times now with Carnival. I have cruised for the past few ... Read More
Let me start by telling you a bit about myself and my travelling companion. I am a 40 year old male who lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands (UK) and has cruised 7 times now with Carnival. I have cruised for the past few Christmas' in the Caribbean and in 2011 when the Carnival Magic was launched and then 2012 when the Carnival Breeze was launched in the Mediterranean. I have never cruised with any other cruise line. My travelling companion was my girlfriends father (Now known as father in law to makes things easier!). He is 74 years old and lives in Hungerford. He has seen large parts of the world and he has done river cruises and cruised in the Mediterranean. This is his first Carnival cruise. This is a long review but this was a 12 day cruise. There is lots to get in. This European cruise itinerary was embarkation in Dover (UK) then a day at Sea. Then Copenhagen (Denmark) then Berlin (Germany) then another day at Sea. Then on to Helsinki (Finland) and then 2 days in St Petersburg (Russia) and the next day Tallinn (Estonia) and then 2 more days at Sea. Then the final land day in Amsterdam (Holland). Then for the last day disembark in Dover. To start my cruise I had to fly to Southampton and got picked up by my father in law. We stayed the night in Hungerford and then on embarkation day we drove down to Dover. We had a really good drive down and even the M25 was kind to us. The weather was not very good. It was overcast but at least it was not raining. Even though neither one of us had been to Dover before it was really easy to find with no need for maps or GPS/Sat Nav. When we got to Dover the car park attendant asked for our proof of booking for the car park. He then sent us to the terminal building. Once outside the building the luggage attendants took our luggage from the boot of the car and took them away to put on the ship. We then drove round to the blue car park as directed. We parked the car and then a mini bus took us back to the terminal. When we first saw the ship my father in laws reaction was wow its huge! Mine was its big but compared to the other Carnival ships I have been on this was the smallest I have ever cruised on, never the less these things are big and you can't deny that. We walked into the terminal and went straight through security. The people at the check-in desk were quick in checking our details and giving us our sail and sign cards. Got stopped by the photographer and had to take a photograph which we did not want, did not look at and certainly had no intention of buying! We got on the ship on deck 2. There were loads of people around and we quickly got out of the way and as we were told our stateroom would not be ready until 13:30 we went to Lido on deck 9 for some lunch. We did consider buying the faster to the fun for this trip but we were glad we did not. We got on to the ship so quickly that FTTF would have been a waste of money. When we finished lunch our bags were outside of our stateroom too! Lunch on Lido was very busy. With most people not being able to go to their rooms until 13:30 they were on Lido eating and talking. The weather was not that good either so there were not too many people outside on deck. We left Dover on time and sat on the stern of the ship in the Serenity area and watched the white cliffs of Dover drift off in the distance. We went to have a look round the ship. As I have never sailed on a Spirit class ship it was new to me as deck 2 and 3 were where everything happened. I have to say that to start off with BEFORE we got on the ship I was concerned that as Carnival Legend was old and did not have the fun ship 2.0 updates and was soon to get a refit that she would not be in good condition. I have to admit to be completely wrong. There are some very small/minor things that make the ships age come to light but these really are insignificant and not important and definitely would not alter your cruise experience. I was on the Carnival Destiny (Now Carnival Sunshine) at Christmas and that ship was in need of some tender love and care where as Carnival Legend was in my opinion really well maintained and in really good condition. I really like the layout of the ship. We basically only used deck 2, 3, 9 and of course deck 6 as that was where our stateroom was in the aft. The BEST Carnival ship I have been on was last year and that was the Carnival Breeze. I guess I set my hopes high after being on that ship and Carnival Destiny kind of came as a shock to me. I imagined that Carnival Legend would be in the same kind of condition as Carnival Destiny but I was so wrong. In a way Carnival Legend was better than Carnival Breeze due to its layout BUT Carnival Breeze was better due to its fun ship 2.0 updates. In a nut shell I loved the Carnival Legend. It seems that they have a very caring maintenance team that make sure she is looking her best at all times. The décor of the ship is really good too. The theatre is made to look like a castle. Even when you walk up to the theatre the castle effects begin. The upper section the of theatre/balcony's were on different levels too, its difficult to explain what I mean by that! There are kind of different sections to sit in and there are some small number of steps which take you up or down or round a corner etc. So even though the balcony’s are on deck 3 and 4 the layout feels strange but in a good way. On deck 1 there is a lounge under the theatre called the Firebird lounge. We only went there for the photographic seminar that Mr Radu held but this was where the comics did their acts. Its a really great room. There is an area round by the Circle C and the amusement arcade that is made to look like your walking through a forest/wood. Its really close to the sea too so looking through the windows was great. There is only 1 main restaurant on the Spirit class ships. This is at the aft end of the ship and the galley was below the restaurant so the food tended to be hotter then on other ships. All in all the Carnival Legend really is a beautiful ship and even though she may be missing some features of newer ships that really did not matter. We had late sitting dinner at 20:15. We were on a table with 4 other people. Most tables seem to sit up to 6 people maximum. There were of course tables for 2 and for 4. 2 of our dinner friends were from Nassau and the other 2 from the UK. The dinner service did not get off to a good start, the head waiter never introduced himself as in the past. We seemed to have 3 assistant waiters with no head waiter. We then found out that our actual head waiter was ill so the next senior waiter was promoted to head waiter. His name was Manuel. His assistant was Ronaldo and the other assistant was Maja. We seemed to take a couple of nights to bond with our waiters and waitress. Once that had happened they were great. I have a gluten allergy and told Carnival before hand. The hostess that looked after me for the first few nights was called Ekatrina from Russia. She was really helpful and friendly and was on her last contract going to live on land again as she has decided to stop cruising. Her replacement was Katy from Peru. She was tiny! Katy again was very helpful and friendly. I think its fair to say just about all the crew we interacted with were friendly and helpful. The food in the dining room was the usual Carnival standard. We ate breakfast almost every morning in the dining room. We only used Lido when time was short. There were no queues on Lido for breakfast. In fact I never had to queue to get anything on Lido. The only exception was the omelette station but this was because the omelette was cooked from fresh right in front of you so no surprise there was a small delay. The first night entertainments in the Follies theatre was the Welcome aboard show. ALL of the shows in the Follies theatre were too loud. I don't know why they have to be so loud. Its not just this ship its all the Carnival ships. My father in law is deaf and has to wear hearing aids. He found that removing his hearing aids and using earplugs he could cope in the theatre! Turn the volume down please Carnival! Anyway the show was hosted by John Heald, the senior cruise director. I have cruised with him 3 times now. The welcome aboard show was OK. It was the usual Carnival welcome aboard. John did his Dick Little joke AGAIN! I have seen this 3 times now! The first time I saw this was on the Carnival Magic and yes I must say that I did think it was quite funny even though the chances were that it was fake. The year after that on Carnival Breeze Dick Little was on the ship again! I did think that its highly possible, as it was the same time of year and it was in the Med so the chances of Dick Little cruising on the same ship as me were realistic. Now on Carnival Legend Dick Little is back again! I suppose that again this could be possible but what let the cat out the bag this time was that Dick Little was Australian where as previously he had been American. The routine was the same, let me see your sail and sign card etc. So I am 99.9% sure that Dick Little is one of John's entertainment tools. The next day was a sea day and the US independent day. I did not see any obvious signs that it was independents day though. Being from the UK I was not really looking so I can't comment on how much was done for the US guests. This was our first cruise elegant night in the restaurant. Some unfortunate people did not have their luggage as it was lost by their airlines so they obviously could not wear their finest but they were told by John that they could still come to the restaurant in whatever they had.. I think this is sensible. These people must already have been so angry at not having their luggage and to be turned away from the restaurant for something like this would have been a real shame. The show tonight was Jazz Hot starring the Carnival Legend dancers. This show was good as were most of the shows. This was the first of our setting our watches forward 1 hour forward. The following day was our first stop and it was in Copenhagen in Denmark. We decided to do a Carnival excursion. We did a walking tour. We had an excellent guide and walked for quite a while. If you can't walk properly or unaided do not do this tour as there is lots of walking and standing to do. We saw lots of the city and the guide was very knowledgeable. The sun came out and it got very hot. I really liked Copenhagen. A very clean city and the people seemed really nice. There did not seem to be many cars round either, even in the middle of the city. The show for the night was Siobhan Phillips who did a comedy and vocal act. We did watch most of it and it was OK but the volume got the better of my father in law and we left as his ears were hurting. The next day we were going to Berlin. We were supposed to dock in Warnemunde but for some reason which was explained to us and I have forgotten we had to dock in Rostock. We again chose a Carnival excursion to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp which included a tour of Berlin. We had an excellent guide called Jorg. The excursion was arranged by European Land Excursion Services (ELS) who arranged the train that took us to Berlin. The guide (Jorg) was also from ELS and all together ELS did an excellent job. Jorg was born and bred in East Berlin and his knowledge and passion for his subject was amazing. He is by far the best guide I have ever had for any excursion. He always knew the answer to any questions we asked him. We got back to the ship late after a really early start so we were very tired. We wanted to go to the Bierfest buffet but could not due to going to the restaurant to eat. Seems to us that the Birefest needs to be moved back but then the band can't get off the ship so I am not sure what the answer is but considering that most people went to Berlin on the Carnival organised train then the majority of people not have been able to go to the bierfest. Such a shame. Tonight we had our second move of out watches 1 hour forward. The next day was a sea day. Not much happened really. A great chance to catch up on sleep after Berlin and a chance to relax. We had a port adventure talk by John. After dinner the best show on the seas! The magic and dance of Justin Illusion. This is the second or maybe third time I have seen this show and its still amazing! Don't miss this if you get the chance to see it. The next day was in Helsinki in Denmark. We decided to do our own thing here so went walk about again. We tried to walk lots to help with the calorie intake problem that a cruise brings with it! We saw lots in Helsinki and it was a really nice place. In hindsight maybe we should have done an organised tour so we knew more about what we were looking at. Back on the and we set sail at 17:00. After dinner the show was a guy called Phillip Browne from the UK. I had never heard of him and was a little sceptical but he ended up being very good. He sang in the west end and he made an excellent début on Carnival Legend. We set our watches forward for the third and last time. The next day was the big one. St Petersburg in Russia. This was an overnight stop so 2 long good days in St Petersburg. We kept being told by John to remember that we had to have our sail and sign cards, passport and a completed Russian immigration form. To get off the ship we took the above to one of the many immigration booths inside the terminal and gave the documents to the serious customs officer. They were checked and then we could carry on our way. St Petersburg port was a huge surprise to me. It was so clean and modern and nice. I THINK the cruise terminal must be quite new as were the surrounding buildings and structures. We did the Carnival organised 2 day tour of St Petersburg. Yes it costs a bit of money but it was hassle free so well worth the money. We had a guide who's name was Alexandera. She was born in St Petersburg and was very proud of her city. We had her for both days which was nice. For some reason I had an image in my head that St Petersburg would be full of people driving Lada's and the buildings would be old and falling down but wow was I wrong! Yes there are some Lada's driving round but the buildings are generally in good order. St Petersburg was a lot more modern then I ever imagined. Their were loads of modern European cars too. This tour was excellent as it took so much in. The main thing I did NOT like about this tour was the visit to the Hermitage museum. Don't get me wrong, the museum is not the problem. The problem was the queue getting into the museum in the first place! We had to wait I think for about 30 minutes. Once inside well my heart sank, the building had quite literally thousands of people visiting. Women actually had to queue to go to the bathroom! Men were OK just about and did not have to queue. I don't know how many cruises ships were in on that day but in the area where we were had 5 cruise ships. In the more central part of St Petersburg there were at least 2 and maybe 3 more cruise ships. As you can imagine this equals ALOT of people with the Hermitage being the main attraction. We could not move easily inside and it got quite hot. I wish I had never been now as I hate crowds and there was no where to go to get away from them. You could not take a photograph without people being in the way. You could not see the exhibits properly either because of all the people. I am sure that this would be a very interesting place to visit BUT at a less touristy time. We had lunch in a restaurant which was really nice. The waiter did not speak English at all (which seemed common for the older generation) but the guide asked him about gluten free food. Apart from the starter everything else was OK. The food was good even though I was not 100% sure what I was eating! We go back on the ship by late afternoon. We could not get off the ship again due to the customs laws. We had dinner and no show that night. The next day in St Petersburg was hot again, We visited some more of the sites which again were busy but manageable. Lunch was in a different restaurant and the staff being younger spoke English. We had a shot of vodka waiting for us and a glass of sparking wine as we had the day before. Again the food was good even though we were not too sure what it was. After the tour we had some time to do some shopping. Then back on the ship. I did like St Petersburg but would probably not be able to go back. Why not? Well simply the language. Many people we interacted with did not speak English. While I can understand and respect that in Russia they speak Russian I do also think that if you are in the tourism business you should be able to speak some English at least. If I was going to St Petersburg to live then of course I would learn to speak Russian but as I was only on holiday that would be a bit excessive! Maybe this is just a time issue. Russia have not been in the tourism business for very long so maybe in some years more people in tourism will learn to speak English and this problem will disappear. As I said earlier the younger generation do seem to be learning English in school so maybe in a few years I will go back. We left a little early as we had a long trip to Tallinn in Estonia. The show after dinner was Jonathan Stamp who was a juggler. He was very good. Well worth seeing. This was the first of putting our watches back 1 hour. Tallinn was an early start and we chose to do a Jewish tour organised by Carnival. I can absolutely NOT recommend this. The guide we had was not very good and to be honest the whole tour seemed lacking. We drove round Tallinn about as the guide did not have anything else planned to show us! After speaking to our dinner friends they said they loved Tallinn and said how beautiful it was. Somehow we missed that! Think we went on the wrong tour. Guess that was just unlucky. We left Tallinn at 16:00 as we had 2 long sea days trying to get to Amsterdam. The past guest party was today too. Only 45 minutes long now! It was exactly the same as all previous past guest party' but hey who doesn't go just for the free drinks! The after dinner show was Philip Hitchcock which according to my girlfriend we have seen in the past and he is very good and very funny. Especially his last bit with a balloon! Watches back an hour again tonight. The first of 2 sea days and not much happening really. Had a lie in and relaxing. The after dinner show was Big Easy. That was with the Carnival Legend dancers. It was also very good. The next sea day we did the behind the fun tour. That was very good. I have done these tours on previous ships but never on a Spirit class ship. While obviously lots of things were the same there are still some differences. The captain Alessandro Galotto was great. Most of the other captains we have visited on the bridge in the past seemed like they just wanted to get rid of you but this captain was not like that. He seemed to like the fact that we were interest in the ship etc. We had 2 photographs taken with him instead of the usual 1. We relaxed in the afternoon getting ready for Amsterdam. The after dinner show was David Knight the Hypnotist. I saw him on Carnival Breeze and he was very good but you really can't help but think are these people really under his power. This time round there definitely were some people who were not as you could see them laughing when they were supposed to be under. Not to take anything away from David as he was very good. We were due to arrive in Amsterdam at 10am but we were told by John that at about 6:30 to 7am we would be in the lock which would be quite a thing to experience. Now obviously when we left Amsterdam we would see the same thing so I decided that as much as I would like to see that I also wanted to sleep so I decided I would see the second “show”. As it happens when got up at 8am we were still in the lock! John told us that the lock door would not open in the normal fashion so some poor guy had to use an old fashioned handle and manually open the door! Once we were through it took another 90 minutes (I think) to get to Amsterdam and where we docked. The 90 minutes of travelling from the lock to the pier were quite amazing. Some of the sites were brilliant. Lots of photo opportunities. We got to the pier about an hour late so the captain moved the whole schedule back 1 hour and left Amsterdam at 19:00 and not 18:00. We decided to do our own thing again. After 2 days of not doing much we needed exercise! My father in law had been to Amsterdam before so had some idea of where he was going. We visited lots of different places. We had a beer in an Australian pub! Oops. We did want a local pub/café/restaurant but there does not really seem to be such a place. Raw herring seems to be the only local dish! Don't think we missed much by not trying that. Amsterdam is a beautiful city. Again this really should be visited when you have more time then a cruise allows. We got back on the ship and went to our balcony to watch the other side of Amsterdam to the one we saw coming in. On leaving Amsterdam there were loads of people waving and there was a small flotilla of boats following us waving. I can only assuming that this is the sort of friendly people the Dutch are. Sadly we had dinner at 20:15 so missed a bit of scenery. The show was Samantha Jay. She played 4 different instruments very well. We had to leave though as my father in law could not stand the bass from the drum. We were at the top of the theatre at the back to try to get away from the volume but even there the bass hit you in the back like someone had a hammer and they were whacking the back of the seat. From an equipment perspective I suppose that was quite impressive that the Carnival Legend sound system was so good but it was just simply not required to be so loud! We had breakfast in the truffles dining room for the last time. It was as good as usual. At about 8.30am we made our way off the ship. We had to queue on deck 2 as loads of other people were trying to get off at the same time too. Once off the ship we had to queue in the terminal! People were getting outside of the terminal and then just standing in the door way to stop anyone else getting out! How frustrating!!! Once outside we had to take our own bags back to the car. We got under way back to Gatwick airport and it took nearly 3 hours! The traffic was awful! A word of warning, leave yourself plenty of time to get to Gatwick etc. if you are going anywhere near the M25! On the way to Dover the M25 was fine but going back it was not. You just don't know. On the whole I really enjoyed the cruise and the Carnival Legend. The one thing that really annoyed me and most of the people we spoke to was Calvin the assistant cruise director. He is so annoying. So scruffy. I can't really explain how annoying he is. He was the brunt of many a joke at the dinner table where our table friends all agreed that the only reason he is still with Carnival is because he brown noses John Heald. Carnival, please get rid of him! Replace him with a towel animal or something, he is useless! That's all for this cruise. Sorry there have been so many pages but there was a lot to get in! Happy Cruising. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Where do I begin? We were all set to don our lifevests as a joke for the first dinner. We were so hesitant to book Carnival after all the bad press and horror stories lately. This turned out to be our favourite cruise ever. The food was ... Read More
Where do I begin? We were all set to don our lifevests as a joke for the first dinner. We were so hesitant to book Carnival after all the bad press and horror stories lately. This turned out to be our favourite cruise ever. The food was great. The service in the dining room was great. We had three servers dedicated just to us. They were fast, friendly and attended to my GF meals with no problems. The food on the buffet line was wonderful and the most choices. Sorry but salad and jello were the only things gluten free unless you asked the chef and he would make whatever you want. I would have liked to have some GF dessert choices and more dishes labelled GF. My twenty something children loved it and have no dietary restrictions. Formal nights. This is no booze cruise to the Bahamas folks. I was led astray by CC saying we would not need a tux. There was a sea of tuxedos and wonderful dresses on both formal nights. We felt so out of place. We like to dress up. I am sure other people just went to anytime dining upstairs or the buffet. Our cabin steward was wonderful and made up different towel art every night. We got a Russian Cossack dancer after St. Petersburg. Room service was never late and the order was never wrong. John, the cruise director, and his Hoda-like sidekick Calvyn were hysterical. My rock star daughter set her alarm not to miss their breakfast show and she seldom awakes before noon. The wit and banter back and forth was so entertaining. Julian, the music director and sax/clarinet/flute etc was amazing and very handsome I must say. The shows were the best! The Carnival Legend dancers/singers/band were wonderful! Surprise! The costume changes and designs were spectacular! The booked entertainment was great too. Justin Illusion, the illusionist was over the top great. Hypnotist, Magician, Musicians, Singers, oh my - all were so fun and entertaining. No matter how tired I was I dragged myself to these shows and each time was more impressed than the last. We have mobility issues and did not get an accessible cabin but the shower was doable. No tub to climb over! The hand held shower massage settings all worked and had a powerful flow. It was too hot on the coolest setting and they fixed it. The a/c was broken and they fixed that too. Guest service was prompt and friendly and wonderful. THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE we have ever experienced. They had seats for people with mobility issues and held the the elevator doors and let us leave the emergency drill first. Very well organized. John made fun of the 'issues of late' and told everyone to get their for OBVIOUS reasons and this was the fasted most organized drill ever. I have never seen a photo gallery with so much attention to pictures. There were 10 or 15 backgrounds all the time to get the best pictures and no expense was spared in the details. Cruise ship, pirate, sandy beach, formal, graffiti, the backgrounds were diverse. Our cabin was 5182 balcony obstructed but we could see the sea from our beds and it was barely obstructed. The service was top notch, the staff was so friendly, we were so hesitant to book Carnival and will not hesitate to book it again. The price was right. We loved the audience participant shows. We were sent champagne, chocolates, and even a trophy! We loved loved loved this cruise and the attention to detail. The service was top notch; the staff was so friendly. We were so hesitant to book Carnival and would not hesitate to book it again. The price was right too.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
About us: We started cruising 9 years ago; this was our 18th cruise. Up to now, our cruising experience was limited to NYC-Canada and varied Caribbean cruises. In June we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary a day after our oldest son ... Read More
About us: We started cruising 9 years ago; this was our 18th cruise. Up to now, our cruising experience was limited to NYC-Canada and varied Caribbean cruises. In June we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary a day after our oldest son graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy and was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy. We had hoped to bring him along for this cruise the last time he sailed with us was 2009 (although hes far outdistanced us in time at sea) but the Navy had other ideas. We figured that this year we needed to do the blowout cruise something completely different. We sailed with DH (52), me (53), and sons 17 and 13. Pre-cruise: Booking the cruise was easy. Flights to London well not quite as easy. We spent more on the airfare than on the cruise. After looking around and checking various itineraries, it turned out that the best-priced flight for us was Albany (30 miles from our house)-Toronto-London on Air Canada. The Albany-Toronto leg was on a Beechcraft 1900 18-seat turboprop. You had both an aisle and a window seat. I cant stand small planes, but somehow I managed it without drugs or alcohol. When we debarked in Toronto we saw our bags on the luggage cart, ready to be transferred to our London flight. With three hours to change planes, there was plenty of time. Or so we thought. Well, when we arrived in London we had none of our bags. Zero, out of four checked bags. When DH reported them missing, Air Canada found that all four bags were still sitting in Toronto. It seems that when they were checked in Albany, they werent scanned properly so no one knew what to do with them in Toronto. (Never mind that the tags were clearly marked transfer and LHR.) At this point, it was early the next morning in London, we hadnt had much sleep, and it was much hotter than normal in London. Fortunately, Ive learned enough from past trips to pack a change of shirt and underwear in our carry-ons, so at least when we reached our hotel we could change. And Air Canada promised to deliver the bags either that night or early the next morning. We arrived in London on Saturday morning and werent due to travel to Dover until Tuesday, so it should work. Our hotel was the Days Hotel near the Lambeth North Tube station. Nice hotel, decent restaurant. When we arrived before lunchtime, one of our two rooms was ready. We gratefully took the room and the boys promptly collapsed on the bed. (DH and I know better; you need to acclimate yourself to the time change, and the best way to do it is to stay up essentially, pull an all-nighter. Havent done that in a long time.) We had pre-ordered London Pass tickets, which gave us access to a number of attractions as well as public transportation passes. We needed to pick them up at a stand near Trafalgar Square. DH and I figured wed go collect the passes. Not happening. This Saturday was a huge Gay Pride parade in Central London. When we left the Tube, we found that we couldnt get to the stand to get our tickets. (If we had taken the Tube to Leister Square instead of Embankment, we would have been fine. Love that 20/20 hindsight.) Meanwhile, remember, its really warm outside. Were in a huge crowd (complete with a guy who hit on DH). And although we changed our clothes back at the hotel, we are still missing our luggage. Not a pretty picture. After dinner that night, we opted for a walking tour. We were very close to Lambeth Palace, so we walked over, through the gardens, across Lambeth Bridge, along the Embankment past Parliament, down to Cleopatras Needle, and then back across the river on the Millennium Bridge and along the South Bank back to our hotel. Of course, our luggage had not arrived when we got back to the hotel. At this point, the clothing supply is rather limited. Sunday morning we finally picked up the London Passes, then headed over to the British Museum. Between our travels and our sons Social Studies teachers, our sons have a real appreciation for traveling and history and youngest son wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, the Egyptian exhibit, and the Elgin Marbles. The Museum was unbelievably crowded, but we made it to all three. Lunch at a museum restaurant, then back to our hotel to find one suitcase. Just one. Seems they put the other three on another van. Oh well, at least youngest son had clothes. Back out again, this time to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. Sons were horrified going to church on vacation is not their idea of fun. However, they got to see the inside of a major Gothic cathedral, and the music for Evensong was wonderful. Dinner was a pub around the corner from our hotel pizza for all, Fosters on tap for DH and me. When we returned from dinner, our remaining bags had arrived (YAY!) Monday  We started the day with a visit to the Tower of London. DH and I have visited several times, but we were happy to introduce our sons to the Tower. When we entered, there was a tour to the battlements where the rooms had been re-created to show how they would have appeared in medieval times. We hadnt seen that before, so it was all new for us! After the battlements, we bit the bullet and stood in line for the Crown Jewels. The line actually moved well, and it was worth the wait. It was much better than when I visited last in 1990! After that, we went to the White Tower, then lunch at one of the museum restaurants. Next up: Tower Bridge. This is a mechanical/civil engineers dream. The tour offers the views from the upper walkways (which never really caught on the bridge openings were fast enough that people really didnt want to be bothered climbing up to the walkways) followed by a tour of the engine rooms that powered the lift bridge. After Tower Bridge, off to HMS Belfast. Weve seen the Belfast moored in the river, but this was our first visit aboard. Great tour. Tuesday  We hired a driver to take us to Dover (with four people, it worked out about equal to either bus or train and we didnt have to tote luggage around). We arrived in Dover before lunchtime, left our luggage at our B&B (Norman Guest House), then walked to the waterfront. Lunch was at Hythe Bay, right on the waterfront. I had a bowl of steamed mussels  freshly caught and really good. After that, up to Dover Castle. You could do this right before you board the ship in Dover, but we spent several hours here. Aside from the castle, which dates to Henry II, there is a tour of the tunnels under the castle the site from which Operation Dynamo, the WWII evacuation from Dunkirk, was coordinated. When the evacuation started they figured they might be able to evacuate 40,000 troops. They ended up evacuating close to 338,000 troops. Its an amazing tour  and it was great introduction for our sons to learn about the tremendous impact of WWII, a theme that would be repeated throughout our vacation. (My dad was a WWII vet and my great-uncle died in Italy in 1944.) Dinner that night was at The Allotment, a restaurant across from City Hall in Dover really good. We introduced the boys to chocolate mousse, and now theyre hooked. Wednesday, July 3  Finally, aboard Legend! Our B&B proprietor had reserved a taxi for us at 10:15 and we were at the port in about 5 minutes. Check-in was absolutely easy, we sat in Zone 1 for all of about 5 minutes, and we were aboard Legend by 10:45. Too early for a Funship Special never had that happen before! We sailed on Legend in 2006 out of NYC to the Caribbean, so we were prepared for the urns. Maybe the intervening seven years (and exposure to many more Farcus designs) have had an effect, but I liked the decor better this time. The Firebird Lounge is really nicely done, and I like the dining room with its china collection. And I could live with the urns. The Spirit-class ships have grown on me over the years. Our cabin was Ocean Suite 5293, while the boys were in inside 5291 across the hall. 5293 has the same size balcony as a Grand Suite, and we did use the balcony quite a bit even though this was a very port-intensive cruise. One word of warning for any balcony cabin on this itinerary: since sunset and sunrise arent that far apart, your cabin may not be as dark as youre used to having. Make sure your drapes are pulled. Boat drill, early dining (table 172 lower level), then had boys registered for Circle C and Club O2. Then off to the Welcome Aboard show with John Heald. As Ive posted before, I have never booked a cruise because of a cruise director or avoided a cruise because of a cruise director. A good cruise director definitely adds to a cruise, though. Ive followed Johns blog and FB page for a number of years, and figured I should see him in person. He did not disappoint. Yes, he did the Dick Little routine that Ive heard about over the years. It was still funny, and my sons (who watched it on TV afterward) thought it was hilarious. More on John later. Thursday, July 4  Fun Day at Sea. DH and I typically spend our sea days by having breakfast on the Lido deck (we always opt for a table by the pools, no matter the temperature we just love being on deck) followed by cards and coffee on the Promenade deck. Usually I skip the port talks, having done my research ahead of time. However, I figured Id attend this time  its just such a different itinerary, and I still hadnt figured out what we should do in Helsinki. It really helped  John had great information about disembarking in St. Petersburg. And as for Helsinki  based on Johns talk, we booked the steam train excursion to Porvoo. And Johns talk was a lot of fun. After the port talk, we went to the wine and food pairing at Golden Fleece, the steakhouse. Weve done these before on other ships, and its interesting to see some of the combinations the sommelier tries. Nikolai was fun he opened a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. After that, a brief lunch and then our Cruise Critic get-together in the piano bar. It was really great getting to know folks some of whom wed corresponded with for months, others who were more recent. Skipped the Captains Celebration and went straight to dinner. After dinner, we saw the show Jazz Hot. Friday, July 5  Copenhagen. We decided to do a walking tour on our own. The Little Mermaid is a short walk from the pier and since we went early, it wasnt crowded. Then we walked up to St. Albans Church and the Kastellet (the star-shaped citadel near the waterfront), along the waterfront, went over to the palace and cathedral, and had tea/coffee at a cafe on the waterfront. Its a really nice city. Saturday, July 6  Germany. We had decided not to go to Berlin for four of us it would have been over $1200 (independent tours werent much less) and it would be a long day. I just wasnt up for a long ride, then lots of driving around Berlin, then a long ride back. Instead, we looked at a tour offered by Alla Tours, with which we had already booked a St. Petersburg tour. We wanted Rostock and Schwerin; however, Alla advised that since we were docking in Rostock port, not Warnemunde, Schwerin was not a possibility given the train schedule. Instead, she recommended a Rostock city tour. It turned out to be a great choice. We were met by a guide who drove us over to a bus stop to meet our tour guide and the other tour passengers from Oceanias Marina, also docked in Rostock. We took the bus to a train station, then took the train into Warnemunde. What a beautiful seaside resort. There was a festival the day we visited, and the town was packed with visitors. After that, we boarded the train again to go into Rostock, then a tram to the city center. A very nice city  we did a walking tour followed by some free time (we went to the Museum of Cultural History, formerly the Abbey of the Holy Cross). From there we went to lunch at a local cafe (really good schnitzel), then over to St. Marys Church with its amazing astronomical clock, built in 1472. From there, back to the ship. (Shh  We tagged along on Marinas shuttle from Rostock back to the port. No one seemed to care. However, seeing as we traveled with two teenage boys, and kids are few and far between on Oceania cruises, we probably should have been a dead giveaway as tagalongs.) Dinner that night on the ship was open seating, since most folks were still out touring. After dinner, the German Oom-pah Band (Diech Tirolero) performed on Lido deck, complete with a German buffet (really good sausage) and German beer on tap. A lot of fun but you could tell people were tired. By 10:30, after Diech Tirolero finished performing, a lot of folks turned in for the night. Sunday, July 7  Another sea day. Coffee and cards on Promenade deck and Johns port talk for Tallinn and Amsterdam. (Loved his warning about the coffee houses in Amsterdam!) Another visit to the Golden Fleece for a wine and food pairing. In the afternoon, while I was out exploring the ship, we received a surprise phone call: John Heald himself. Seems a FB friend sent a note to John to let him know we were sailing, and John called us. DH had a great time talking to him hes just a really nice person. That night he hosted Cigars under the White Nights on the Lido deck with the orchestra playing jazz (what a great orchestra  I truly wish Carnival would go back to full ensembles) and I had a chance to talk to John in person and thank him for the champagne/strawberries he sent. (Okay, the 13 YO made a major dent in the strawberries. He declared John to be the best cruise director ever!) John mentioned how much he loves having a full orchestra on ships I hope the beards get the message and bring back the ship orchestras on other sailings. Monday, July 8  Helsinki. This was the start of four straight port days, and we knew theyd be intensive. We booked the city tour and steam train to Porvoo excursion. All of the Carnival excursions met in the main lounge early and were sorted according to excursion. Theyd then call excursion number to take you to your tours. We started with a bus tour through Helsinki to Hinthaara, where we met the steam train for a rise to Porvoo. A nice ride through the country to the Porvoo train station. After that, we did a walking tour of the old city, which dates to the 1400s. After time to explore on our own, we took a bus to Haikko, a resort/spa, for lunch. I would describe the lunch as rather nondescript, but the resort was beautiful. After lunch, a bus ride back to Helsinki, where we visited the Rock Church, formally known as Temppeliaukio. Hewn from solid rock, its fascinating. Then back to the ship. We didnt do much after dinner aside from it being an early morning on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, we would lose an hour of sleep due to setting clocks back. (This was the third hour lost so far we set clocks back an hour the night before arriving in Copenhagen and again after leaving Rostock.) Tuesday, July 9  St. Petersburg. You really need to pay attention to the instructions for disembarking here. There are three ways to visit. First, if you want to do everything on your own, you need to obtain a Russian visa before you sail. It takes time, its not easy, and its not cheap. Second, you can book Carnivals tours. When you disembark, you need your passport, your tour ticket, and an immigration form that Carnival will provide the day before arrival. The form is two parts; when you disembark, they will collect one half and stamp your passport. When you return, the will collect the second half and again stamp your passport. Third, you can book an independent tour. They will issue a document you will need to disembark, along with your passport and the immigration form. It works similarly to the Carnival tours. Just make sure you have the proper documents check them with your tour operator. As for disembarkation times they do disembark the Carnival passengers first. We were on an independent tour with a meeting time of 8:30 a.m., and we had plenty of time to get through immigration and meet our tour. Do give yourself plenty of time to get through; the lines on the first day are long. In our case, they did not allow families to go through the immigration together; we had to do it individually. Actually a good experience for our sons, since were trying to encourage them to be independent travelers. We booked the two-day Comfort Tour with Alla. Before we sailed, Alla was very responsive to all of our inquiries regarding the tour, and we were very pleased with the tour. The Comfort Tour does not go to Yusupovs Palace or St. Isaacs Cathedral, although you see the outside of both. (We figured the boys would not be disappointed at missing one church and one palace.) We had a group of 15 with a mini-bus. We started the day with an overview drive, followed by a visit to the subway. We did not ride a train, just visited the station. If youre a rider of the MTA in New York or the Tube in London, it is amazing. After that, the morning was spent at the Hermitage. Again, amazing what an art collection. John Heald had mentioned in his port talk that if you stopped to see each work of art in the Hermitage, you would need 1  years to tour. Toward the end of the tour, a number of those in our group were just too tired to venture to the last exhibit the French Impressionists on the top floor. We decided to keep going and were rewarded with a fantastic exhibit of works by Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugain, and Picasso. Wow. After the Hermitage, we went to the Church of the Spilled Blood the location of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. Definitely one of those places you associate with Russia, with its brightly painted onion domes. This was followed by lunch at a local restaurant (food was just fine, if not notable), a canal tour on the Neva River and some of the canals around the city, and the fortress of Sts. Peter and Paul, the burial site for members of the imperial family. Then back to the ship but wait. We booked an evening tour, another canal tour. We had booked it through Carnival since it was the least expensive night tour and the one we figured our sons would most enjoy. Going through immigration this time was easy since we had the passport stamp. It was fairly similar to the tour we had done earlier in the day, but we enjoyed it just the same. Wednesday, July 10  St. Petersburg, part 2. Our meeting time was 8:00. We were through immigration by 7:50 and were still the last in our group. Then off to a store where we paid for the tour; we used our credit card without a problem (and paid for the Rostock tour as well) and did some souvenir shopping. DH found an icon of Mary and Jesus (some years ago he studied Orthodox iconography and has been fascinated by it); I found a shotglass to add to my collection; and then we had they sons finds. Youngest son came away with a Cossack furred hat with a hammer and sickle, while older son found  a New York Mets set of nesting dolls. Only he could go halfway around the world and find something like this. Add a couple of tee shirts and we were done. (You do get a vodka sample as well.) From there we went to the dock for the hydrofoil to Peterhof. Off we went at high speed across the Gulf of Finland. Peterhof is a palace built by Peter the Great in the early 1700s and was intended to resemble Versailles. The fountains in the Lower Park are amazing. What is equally impressive is to realize that the palace and fountains were virtually destroyed during WWII and have been painstakingly restored. After touring the Lower Park, we had lunch in the Orangerie, then ventured to the Upper Park and back to our van for the trip to Catherines Palace. This was another palace that was completely amazing  particularly for having been blown up in WWII, but again painstakingly restored thanks to the existence of photos and plans for the various rooms. Then out to the gardens for a walk, then back to the port where we bade farewell to our guide Katya and driver Dmitri. Tonight was the White Nights Dance Party on Lido deck with a band and a Mexican buffet. We didnt even try  St. Petersburg wiped us out. And that was with the Comfort tour! Thursday, July 11  Tallinn. We hadnt made any plans for Tallinn; I had read that you could do an easy walking tour, and we figured that after three straight days of excursions wed want to take it easy. We picked up a map and walked to the old city. (Note: Be very careful crossing the streets; use the pedestrian crossings with signals. There is a lot of traffic coming from several different directions.) What a gem. The old city still has its medieval walls, winding streets, and old churches. Right in front of the Town Hall is a square filled with vendors and cafes. After our walking tour, we headed back there for lunch and found Karl Friedrich caf. DH and I sampled the local beer and a Baltic herring plate, while the boys had pizza. So much for local flavor. However, this cafe prides itself on its pizza and the boys thought it was very good. Back aboard ship, the VIFP Gold/Platinum/Diamond party took place. It was fun, with plenty of food and drink, and John leads a good party. Friday, July 12  Day at sea. Another morning with coffee and cards, another food and wine pairing at the steakhouse (last one of three). In the afternoon we went to Johns marriage show. As he says on his blog, his marriage show is very different from other ships shows; theres none of the nun, hooker and missionary jokes. After dinner, we went to the main show, Big Easy, a tribute to New Orleans. Saturday, July 13  Another day at sea. Unfortunately, the weather was not great this day as it was cloudy and windy, and they closed off the open decks. However, a great feature this day was a concert by the ships orchestra and the four featured singers. What a lot of fun! After dinner I tried the hypnotist show thought it was completely staged. I saw people reacting to instructions even before the instructions were given. Not fun. Sunday, July 14  Amsterdam. We were delayed in docking, as the canal lock on the North Sea Canal malfunctioned; however, instead of sailing at 6 as scheduled, we had an extra hour in port. We figured we would do a canal tour to give us an overview of the city, and walked over to the area in front of the train station where you could book canal tours. Note: Watch out for the bicycles! Theyre everywhere, and not all cyclists pay attention to the traffic signals. I went to cross a street with the pedestrian signal and just about got plowed down by a cyclist. Of course, Ive had that happen in NYC as well. We booked an hour-long canal tour and really enjoyed it. After the tour, we stopped at a cafe along the canal for a snack  Dutch cheese and Heineken for DH and me, chicken nuggets and Coke for the boys. After that, back to the ship. Since we sailed an hour late, we were able to enjoy sailing away from Amsterdam from our balcony. As it turned out, our return voyage through the lock was also delayed. Since we would be disembarking in Dover the following morning, we had to get luggage ready. Weve always left our luggage outside the cabin the night before  no self-assist. With four people and several fairly large bags, we just cant manage it. Monday, July 15  Back to Dover. We docked late, thanks to the malfunctioning canal lock in the Netherlands. Not a concern for us; we had realized when booking flights that we likely could not get to Heathrow in time for a flight to Toronto with the right connection to Albany to get home that day, so we just planned on a driver to take us to a hotel by Heathrow so we could fly out Tuesday morning. However, others did have flight problems since we arrived late. Traffic on the M25 was awful  between construction and accidents, our trip to Heathrow took 2  hours. We spent the day (and night) at the Novotel Heathrow. Comfortable hotel, decent food. Next morning, we headed over to the terminal for our non-eventful flight home. Kathys thoughts. This is the section where I give my opinion about the travel, the cruise, the ports, etc. Your mileage may vary. Ship, shows and service: As I mentioned, Legend is not my favorite ship (although she is growing on me). However, all of the lounges were well cared for and full of options. I spent several evenings with Bruce in the piano bar (along with sassyb69 and will and hel) and had a great time. Especially notable for me was the full ships orchestra  saxophones, trumpet, trombone, bass, keyboard, drums  10 members in all. Aside from performing in the main lounge for shows, they also performed at Johns Cigars under the White Nights on the Lido deck, had a concert in one of the aft lounges after dinner, and had a pre-dinner concert with the four featured singers on the last sea day. I mentioned to John how much I enjoyed the orchestra, and he noted that hed like to see more ships with the large orchestras. The shows were fine, at least the ones we saw with a port-intensive cruise, there were a number of shows we skipped. However, I certainly was not disappointed in the number or variety of shows available. Lots of trivia, if you like trivia I enjoy it, but actually never had time for it on this cruise. Service was excellent; our cabin stewards took great care of us, including our laundry. As Platinum cruisers, we were entitled to 3 bags each; I think we used 6 or 7 total for the 4 of us. The last set we sent out had a problem, as one of the mesh bags split and our laundry ended up mixed with another familys laundry. They brought everything to our cabin and we sorted it out right down to a pair of socks that was unaccounted for. Our dining room team was excellent as well, and Stefan on bar service was wonderful. John Heald: I started following Johns blog some years ago and then started following him on Facebook. Loved his sense of humor. However, I had never sailed on one if his cruises. (Came close once we were scheduled to do a Carnival Freedom cruise that originally listed him as CD however, he had his schedule changed and then we had to cancel the cruise altogether when DH changed jobs.) As I mentioned toward the beginning of this review, I have never booked a cruise because a particular person was scheduled to be the cruise director, and that was the case with this cruise. Having John as CD was a bonus. And he really is a good CD very visible, very personable, and an amazing memory for people. What was telling was DH: while I had followed Johns blog and FB pages, DHs knowledge of John was whatever I told him periodically. He had never looked at the blog or FB and wasnt particularly interested in cruise director stuff. After the cruise, he became an avid follower of both the blog and the FB page. Food: We generally have breakfast and lunch on Lido, and most dishes were fine. One problem I had on this cruise is that I dont eat early breakfast for some reason, it just doesnt sit well. I dont get hungry until closer to 10 a.m. With early port days, I knew I had to eat something before disembarking at least I could manage some cantaloupe and cereal. Dinners in the dining room were very good. A nice feature of the European cruises is that Carnival offers some meals that arent offered in the US it was nice to try some new things. The cruise: As I noted at the beginning, this was the blowout cruise for us. Prior to this cruise, the longest cruise we took was 8 days. Understand, however, that this is not a cruise for relaxing you cruise this one for the ports. Even with four sea days, this was intense. But unforgettable! I never thought I would get to Russia. Or Estonia, for that matter. The hardest for me was the time changes. You lose three hours over the course of sailing to St. Petersburg and gain it back on the return. (Oldest son has very little sympathy. In 2011 he sailed on a cargo ship from Albany NY eastward through the Mediterranean and Asia, finally ending in Long Beach, CA. He lost lots of time. Upon returning to CA, he flew a redeye from LAX to JFK, got back to campus at the Merchant Marine Academy, and promptly found a place to go to sleep.) The ports: There wasnt a single port I didnt enjoy. St. Petersburg probably would rank first, followed by Tallinn and Rostock/Warnemunde. I think if I had done more research on Helsinki and Copenhagen I would have done some things differently, but I enjoyed both ports. Overall, though, you need to be a comfortable traveler rather than a tourist; St. Petersburg is very strict with its requirements, and a couple of the other ports required you to bring your passports (not just photo id) ashore. While everyone we came in contact with was comfortable with English, I would recommend having a few phrases in the local language tucked away. Our guide in St. Petersburg taught us a few Russian phrases; when we returned to the pier after the tour, I said Thank you in Russian to the immigration officer who checked my passport, and she gave me a nice smile and a return Thank you. Next trip: Were looking at Alaska for a cruise next year. DHs brother and wife are interested in going along to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Stay tuned.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
This is a remarkable trip but very fast paced. It is also a very tiring trip due to 3 different time changes traveling from Dover to St. Petersburg and 3 time changes leaving St. Petersburg back to Dover. In our case, we spent 3 days prior ... Read More
This is a remarkable trip but very fast paced. It is also a very tiring trip due to 3 different time changes traveling from Dover to St. Petersburg and 3 time changes leaving St. Petersburg back to Dover. In our case, we spent 3 days prior to the cruise in London (Fri-Sat-Sun) including a day trip on the Eurostar to Paris (another 1 hour time change)on Saturday. Those wishing to do this trip please keep in mind, the train does not run on Sunday. Where ever you stay, you will need to be up around 4 AM and depart your hotel to be at the train station to check in and head to Paris on the 7 AM train. It is a 2 hr 15 minute trip at 186 MPH. This is a great experience and well worth the cost. As for the ship. This was our 2nd time on the Carnival Legend and was very enjoyable. The crew was wonderful and very friendly. Always a smile and a hello.The food was some of the best we have had on a Carnival cruise. The only complaint was they only served creme brulee (our favorite) once in the 12 days. There were several kids on the cruise that were not well supervised and were running and pushing through the common areas and playing on the elevators while parents just looked on. We did have a cabin steward with over 20 years service and by far, the best steward we have ever had. The Ports: Dover: Ship departs here, but if you choose to be port side (balcony is great) then you get a great view of the White Cliffs of Dover. Copenhagen: Beautiful city, we did a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery and got a few free samples. This was a very nice tour. Berlin: We opted to take in the Top 10 sites via a train ride for 3 1/2 hours to Berlin. This is a very informative tour and really enjoyable. The train is not air conditioned, but choose your dates accordingly. We went in July and ride was pleasant with windows down. The countryside was really nice and the tor of Berlin was remarkable. St. Petersburg: Although this is a remarkable cultural city, it was not one of our favorites as it turned out. An awful lot of walking when you do the 2 day experience. It was very beautiful, but you need to secure your wallets and valuables. One of our friends got hit by a pickpocket at the Hermitage and Tour Guide never bothered to contact the Police or the Hermitage Security People even though we were pretty sure we spotted the elderly lady who picked his pocket. Smoking is not allowed on the tour buses, but at each stop, the drivers would smoke and you could smell it once you returned. The driver or tour guide never inquired about the comfort of the passengers. It was usually way too hot and folks shedding jackets, etc. Tallinn: What a pleasant surprise. After this visit, I can clearly see why this is a break-a-way republic of the old Soviet Union. I can't say enough nice things about this stop. A wonderful tour guide to start with on our trip to Old Town Tallinn. First thing was the comfort of her passengers. A lot of walking, but also a lot of stopping a long the way for pictures and to hear the history. A concert at the old church was remarkable and then to Old Town Center where we had a wonderful lunch and even our guide sat with us. Helsinki: Another wonderful stop. We went to Old Town Porvoo which is very quaint and a nice place to visit. After that, we were served pasty and coffee at a nice resort, more like a bed and breakfast. Amsterdam: Another remarkable stop. To get into Amsterdam, you go through a set of locks and follow the canal into the city. This was such a nice stop that if one would choose a place to stay and visit, this would be one of those. We did a tour to Edam and got to see the local countryside and all the farms and land recovered by building dykes over the years. In Edam, we visited a farm making Edam Cheese and had our choices of many different types of cheese from cows, goats, and sheep. We decided the smoked cheese (cow) was the best. Before heading to Edam, we did a tour to see the old windmills and a shop making wooded shoes. This was also a fairly long walking tour of the city of Edam, but did have time to takes some nice pictures. Pre-cruise: London, our 3 day stay just was not long enough, we did see a lot, but so much more to see and do. Actually, you can get around pretty easy in London using the Tube, city buses,taxis,or hop-on hop buses. The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace happens at 11:30 AM each day. You need to be there around 10:30 if you want to get close to the Palace Gates.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
Carnival Legend Baltic Cruise July 27-August 8, 2013 PORTS: Copenhagen, Berlin (Warnemunde), Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Amsterdam US: Couple in their 50s celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. EMBARKATION: Fairly smooth ... Read More
Carnival Legend Baltic Cruise July 27-August 8, 2013 PORTS: Copenhagen, Berlin (Warnemunde), Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Amsterdam US: Couple in their 50s celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. EMBARKATION: Fairly smooth and quick. We did not book our flights with Carnival so we were very pleased that Carnival reps were waiting for us at Heathrow, even though our flight arrived around 6:00 a.m. We were able to find seats in the baggage area and we waited for a few other flights to arrive before we were able to board a bus to Dover. There was a bit of congestion on the highway to Dover, but nothing too terrible. It was raining, but we were going on a cruise so we were happy, and also exhausted from not being able to sleep at all on our flight. We arrived at the port and the process to board did not take too long. Once onboard we went to the Lido for lunch. After lunch we checked and our cabin was ready for us. We napped a bit until the muster drill. CABIN: We had an extended balcony cabin on deck 7. It was mid-ship and was really a great location for getting anywhere on the ship. We did not hear our neighbors at all, but we did hear children running up and down the halls on this cruise. It sounded like it was on the deck above us. We had plenty of room in the cabin, including closet space, and our steward, Mart, was very gracious and took good care of us, including bringing ice for my ankle after I fell getting off the train from Berlin. Very few amenities in the basket in the bathroom, but it did include a tube of toothpaste which I used throughout the cruise and did not have to use my travel tube. Beds were really hard. I felt sore, but I'm used to my memory foam mattress pad at home. We were able to adjust the room temperature to our satisfaction. We were able to get 3 of our 4 suitcases under the bed. We could have used more hangers in the closets, but it wasn't worth taking up room in our luggage or the added weight to bring our own. We both sleep with CPAP machines so it would have been wonderful to have an outlet anywhere near the bed. But I always travel with an extension cord in my CPAP case, so we were able to use the outlet at the vanity. We brought a travel alarm clock with us, but as we were frequently setting the time ahead and then back after Russia, it was easier to just use the ship's wake up call. DINING: We were pleased with the food on the ship. We ate breakfast and lunches on the Lido and were satisfied with the selection and the quality of the food for the most part. Being that this was a European cruise, there were many cruisers from the UK on board and some of the stations served typical English breakfast. I had to hunt to find the good old American bacon. ? We had early seating in the MDR for dinner and ate with a couple from NY. Our meals in the MDR were mostly great. I had prime rib at least twice and it just melted in my mouth. Our wait staff, Wilton, Simona and Stanismer, were great. They always addressed us by our names and brought anything we asked for. They were quick to fill our water glasses and bring us bread. We even got a special dessert from Carnival one night because we were celebrating our anniversary. I just wish they had offered creme brulee more than once during this 12 day cruise. One night we ate at the steak house. I wanted to try it based on recommendations here on CC, but I would not do it again. I think that the food we got was probably worth the extra fee, but I was perfectly satisfied with the food I had been getting in the MDR. Some of the items in the steak house were a bit fancy or fishy for my taste. The onion soup definitely had wine in it, which I know many would enjoy. I'm not a drinker, though, and the taste bothered me. I also felt the wait staff was a bit put out that we were not ordering wine with our meal. We just really don't drink. My steak was delicious, and I barely had room for any dessert. I ordered just the tiramisu part of the chocolate sampler. My husband was able to eat an entire dessert. SPA: I had 2 massages in the spa. One was deep tissue and the other was hot stones. Both were very good, although very much overpriced. I did cave and buy one of the products used on me in the deep tissue massage, primarily because it was supposed to contain a topical anti-inflammatory. After my accident in Warnemunde, I was glad I had purchased it. I used the Jacuzzi in the spa once. SERVICE: Our cabin steward and assistant and our dining room wait staff were excellent. Pretty much every Carnival employee we encountered was smiling, courteous and helpful. It was a pleasure. Even the bar staff was quick to serve us and friendly, even though we mostly ordered soft drinks that we pre-paid by purchasing the Bottomless Bubbles program. (This has not always been the case on our previous cruises.) I had an incident where I had to visit the infirmary, and the nurse was very kind and helpful. The only crew that actually annoyed us was a very abrupt photographer that came to our table every night in the MDR and ordered us around. She seemed to show up every night as soon as I put a forkful of food in my mouth to chew. She was also at one of the photo stations onboard and we avoided her station. But everyone else was smiling and friendly. ENTERTAINMENT: We did not get to every show, especially the Welcome Aboard show, as we were completely exhausted that night. The music shows were fairly good and the costumes and sets for The Big Easy were great. The illusionist show bothered us. We hated the music and the costumes and choreography had kind of an S&M feel that I felt was inappropriate for kids. They did make several announcements about the costumes, but it was more than that. There was a definite sexual overtone to the show. And the music was very loud and annoying. We only attended one of the comedian shows and it was the family friendly version. We might have attended more of them or other events on the ship, but frankly we were pretty pooped on port days. This was not a relaxation cruise. The ports were the main thing. Even though the sun was still shining at 11:00 p.m., we were ready to call it a day and did not have the energy to stay up late this time. We enjoyed the show band. Some of the other musicians on board were okay. My husband particularly missed the classical trio that used to play in the atrium on some of our other cruises. The musicians they had seemed to have very limited repertoires. We did not get to the piano bar at all. SHORE EXCURSIONS: We booked all but 2 of our shore excursions with Carnival. In Copenhagen we did the city tour with Tivoli Gardens. It was a disappointment, especially as it was our first port. We felt we saw very little of the city and had no time during the tour to wander around. We had 2 hours on our own at Tivoli, which was nice, but we had no Danish currency, and could not even purchase a drink. We used a debit card to purchase some tickets to ride one roller coaster ($26 for two of us for ONE RIDE!) because we had forgotten to have the pin# to our credit card with us. You had to have a pin # to use a credit card in Copenhagen. I had read this and had all the numbers in a binder with all of our cruise docs, but I just wasn't thinking and didn't write the number down and take it with me. As this was our first stop, a short day, and we were still recovering from jet lag, etc., we did not do anything else in Copenhagen. In Germany we took the Carnival excursion to Berlin. Carnival rented a private train to transport all the cruisers that wanted to go to Berlin. It took about 3 hours each way. For the excursion we chose, we saw some highlights including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and remnants of the Wall. We had free time which my husband used to check out some museums and I browsed and relaxed at a mall and the area nearby. In Helsinki, we did the Carnival's Highlights of Helsinki tour. This was a bit of a letdown for me. First of all it was raining pretty hard all morning. We went to Sibelius Park, the Rock Church, and as the rain got heavier and heavier, people didn't even want to leave the bus. At one point we stopped to look at a church and were supposed to have 30 minutes to explore the area. Someone said, "Just open the doors so we can take some pictures." The guide asked who wanted to return to the ship and most of us did. My husband and a few others stayed in town, and lucky for them the rain cleared. My husband had a lovely time including lunch in a market with lots of fresh fruit and veggies and a trip to an art museum. We chose a private 2-day tour of St. Petersburg. We went with St. Petersburg Tours (TJ Travel). This was a very intensive 2 days. I believe we saw more than those on the Carnival 2-day tour. But we walked our legs off. I highly recommend St. Petersburg Tours, though. They were able to get us into the Hermitage before regular hours, although the Hermitage seemed to offer the same deal to many other tour groups. Everywhere we went was super crowded, and I would not want to be on my own in this city. We also visited Catherine's palace and the Peterhof palace and gardens with the beautiful fountains (took a hydrofoil back from there), the Spilled Blood Cathedral, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Yusopov Palace, St. Peter and Paul Fortress/Cathedral, the subway station and had boat ride on the canals. The tour included "a typical Russian lunch" both days. The two days were exhausting but well worth it. Tallinn was the city I least was looking forward to seeing and it turned out to be my favorite. It was quaint and lovely. It was also a long way from port. We were told we could easily walk into the center of the old town, but for me it wasn't such an easy walk, especially after the two intense days in Russia. They have a hop on/hop off bus that I ended up riding around town, as I was not up for the private walking tour I had signed up for by the time I got to the starting point. I could have ridden this bus all day, especially on the open air top level. However, they have 3 different routes and they did make you exit when you had completed one of the routes. The scheduling was funky. Not all of the routes passed the same places, although all seemed to go to the port. But the drop-off spot for the port was nowhere near the ship. It was another long walk to get to the Legend and not easily defined. I spotted the ship and just kept walking until I found my way to the entrance of the dock. My husband chose to hop off the bus and make his way to the Festival Hall where they hold the music festivals. This was quite a ways outside of the old town. He was able to hop back on a bus and find his way back to the port but experienced the same frustration as I did because it wasn't anywhere near our ship and there was no clear way to get back to the Legend. In Amsterdam we chose the Carnival tour that would take us to Anne Frank's House and also show us some city highlights. It was a good thing we chose the tour as we were able to get in much quicker than those who bought tickets on their own. Even so, it was a long wait and it was very crowded inside. Still, it was memorable and moving and worth seeing. It rained the entire day we were in Amsterdam, so it made sightseeing difficult and I'm sure everything would look much nicer on a sunny day. Again, I went back to the ship at the end of the scheduled tour, but my husband opted to head to some art museums on his own. OVERALL: This was a fantastic cruise. We saw some wonderful things and our time onboard was a pleasure as well. Too bad Carnival chose not to continue this itinerary. I know everyone we talked to loved it.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
Our cruise departed from Dover on September 13th. Embarking the ship was fast and easy, but I did go online before the cruise to sign up. We went to Liverpool(due to weather problems) first and as I had not been to England before I really ... Read More
Our cruise departed from Dover on September 13th. Embarking the ship was fast and easy, but I did go online before the cruise to sign up. We went to Liverpool(due to weather problems) first and as I had not been to England before I really enjoyed it(we did not get to go to Belfast, Ireland). Our inside stateroom was suprisingly spacious and our room attendants were friendly and attentive. We were on the lowest floor (called floor 1) for customers. Our location was very convenient for dinner and the evening shows. The food was wonderful, the shows great. I enjoyed exercising with Damian in the morning(free stretching and abs class) and I enjoyed doing yoga(only 12 dollars a class). We liked playing mini golf and the ship had many competitions that my husband joined in(mini golf and bean bag toss). I did not bring my swim suit because I thought it would be too cold but it was warm in the covered pool area in the afternoon and many people enjoyed swimming and the hot tub. I went to the library and checked out a book and a scrabble game to enjoy on the sea days Our port of calls were Dublin, Ireland and Glasgow, Scottland, Inverness, Scottland,edinburgh, scottland, stavenger, norway, le havre, france. I enjoyed all our port of calls but I did not use the carnival excursions due to the cost and having a crowd always present. Doing the ports on your own requires a lot of advanced planning and was difficult in france as I do not speak French. Stavenger, Norway was easy as there was a hop on hop off bus and it seemed like everyone spoke English. I loved the ship and I doubt any other cruises will ever be as good. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
Carnival Splendour We have just come back from an 11 night cruise form Dover (UK) to Rome on the new Carnival Splendour we are a UK couple in our Mid 30's and were travelling with my parents father 72 and mother disabled and ... Read More
Carnival Splendour We have just come back from an 11 night cruise form Dover (UK) to Rome on the new Carnival Splendour we are a UK couple in our Mid 30's and were travelling with my parents father 72 and mother disabled and wheelchair bound, we were in the cheapest cabin we could get 1253 and my parents had a disabled cabin. Ship The ship was lovely brand new and huge as with many new ships much oceanside space has been given to balcony cabins which meant that there was less promenade for us cheapies. The atrium was awesome all 10 floors of it with 4 glass lifts a lovely bar and dance floor at the bottom. The library was good and the shops better than many thought they charged 17.5% VAT in some shops but not others. The casino was awesome a little Vegas at sea and the slots seemed much looser than its Vegas counterpart. There were about 7 bars and a nightclub as well as a good amusement arcade and a kids disco. The Spectacular theatre was large and the seats comfortable but they could have cut some of the chrome and white lights to make it easier on the eyes. The lido deck had a fair sized pool and lots of loungers and a big screen that showed a concert and movies each night with two indoor spas tubs, there was an additional pool and two outdoor spa tubs at the back of the ship and another pool and spa tub on deck 11 along with a sports net with basketball hoop and a great 10 hole mini golf game. All of these facilities were very very good. The Spa and Gym must be the best at sea it was amazing. Cabin The cabin was great the bed very comfortable and a good bathroom, every room includes beach towels and dressing gowns which everyone seemed to use at some point the cabin was kept spotless and the turndown service very good. Entertainment The shows were poor very poor on at least 2 nights it was guests performing the quality was just not up to the level of other cruise companies, there was a lot to do in the day quizzes etc and these were good but they did not compensate for the evening shows. I was very disappointed with this and thought that whilst carnival is a cheaper brand that with 3.5k people on board they could get a decent programme going they were not a patch on Royal Caribbean which is a similar priced company. Food Another let down, the main dining rooms were only open for breakfast and evening meals not lunch except on sea days whilst the food was fair the choice was not as good as other companies and it was aimed at a 3 course dinner and not the 5 we are used to (though you could order two starters and cheese if you chose). Usually for dinner we have to spend ages deciding what we want but on Carnival the choice was generally easy as there was not as much choice and on at least 2 nights we chose the Carnival Favorites that were available every night as there was nothing else that took our fancy. The food service in here was brilliant the best we have ever had on a cruise, though drinks seemed to take and age to come and more drink waiters should have been deployed. The buffet was very poor both in choice and standard of food, if you wanted breakfast that at a decent time you have to be prepared to wait a long time in a horrible queue although there are two buffet areas these are not nearly sufficient to deal with the amount of people at busy times we risked this once and then either had breakfast in the dining room or in the cabin. There were 4 food areas through the day one doing hot dogs and burgers, one doing deli sandwiches, one doing curry and one doing Pizza, I thought all of these were very good except the Pizza but my mum loved it so maybe that was just me. Pizza and room service were the only 24 hour fare and I think that this should be extended to sandwiches and say cookies. There were very good tea and coffee stations that also had ice cream and juices generally orange, apple, fruit punch and lemonade these were open 24 hours and you never had to wait too long in line. There was also a supper club that cost $30 cover we left it to late to try this but it looked very very good and exceptional value. Embarkation/Disembarkation Shockingly bad there were no computers to check people in which meant it was all done by hand the check in people both took my and my dads credit card details down wrongly which meant our onboard accounts were disabled and we had to spend too much holiday time waiting to sort it out with the pursers, for a ship this size they need more pursers the queue was always long. We were told that we would disembark at around 0640 we were not called until 0820 this I thought was not fair as no one wants to get up this early when you are on holiday and an extra hour in bed would have made a huge difference. Other things We felt that Carnival were trying to get you to pay for all sorts of things part of me thinks that the shows were meant to be bad so that you would either be in a bar where you bought drinks or in the casino. It was a non stop push trying to get you to buy trips with scare stories of European pick pockets or horror stories of trains not running on time and I overheard conversations about coaches for official trips being over an hour late so what the difference is I am not sure ! We had tannoy announcements about trips or reminding us to tip the poor maitre D it was constant the tannoy was used way too much and and I don't feel should ever be used to try to push trips or tips !We will probably not choose carnival again because we felt that they were trying to treat us like mugs. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
I am 39 years old. This was me and my wife's 7th Cruise. First ever trip to Europe. We have sailed 4 times on Royal Caribbean and this was our 3rd on Carnival. We stayed at the Ramada Hotel and it was reasonably well appointed ... Read More
I am 39 years old. This was me and my wife's 7th Cruise. First ever trip to Europe. We have sailed 4 times on Royal Caribbean and this was our 3rd on Carnival. We stayed at the Ramada Hotel and it was reasonably well appointed for the price. The one thing we liked was the king size bed, which we discovered is a rarity in Europe. The TAXI situation is an issue in Dover. It is a small town that can't support many cabbies in the off season and so there is a noticeable shortage on embarkation day. Plan ahead and you'll be fine. We booked our taxi the day previous and only had to wait about an hour past our requested time. There is a cafe at the front of the hotel lobby which makes waiting for the taxi more pleasant. Embarkation at the Dover Terminal was not the smoothest operation we've experienced, but certainly not the worst either. There were long lines but they had plenty of counter attendants and we were processed in under a half hour. The Carnival Splendor has much in common with the Conquest Class ships with a few interesting exceptions. First, there is an extra deck above the lido deck which provides a two story open air enclosure around the main pool area. This provides for more shelter from the wind and in inclement weather, can be sealed off completely with the retractable roof. The extra deck provides many areas to sit, eat, and watch the large movie screen and/or the pool entertainment. The other main difference is the spa and spa-cabins. We were in a balcony "spa" cabin and with that came a few perks. Among our favorites were the robes (the best I've ever worn) and access to the spa pool and thermal suites. The thermal suites were every bit as nice as those found on Royal Caribbean's Brilliance class ships. The Spa hot tub was nice, but the chrome bar lounger inside the pool was not set at the proper angle and you would constantly slip off. Designers should visit the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland to see how to do it properly. Another aspect of the spa hot tub area that wasn't quite as it should be was the glass panel's overhead. Almost every one of them had a crack in the glass and it takes away from a relaxing soak when you're wondering when they'll break and fall into the pool! The Cabin itself was standard for Carnival. Spacious, well laid out and functional. The color and look of the ship is standard Carnival gaudy. Fried eggs on the ceiling of the main dining rooms and more pink than you'll ever care to see again in one place. But nobody sails Carnival for the quality of their decorations, so you just deal with it and have another drink with the money you saved. Ship activities were standard for Carnival, although a bit more subdued than other Carnival cruises we've been on due I think to the cooler weather and possibly the type of passengers that migrate to this type of itinerary. The shows were not the best we've seen at sea and many people could be seen walking out of several performances. The one exception was that our cruise director, John Heald, lived up to his reputation of being the best in the business and I would suggest that if you are having trouble deciding between two cruises and John Heald is anticipated to be the CD on one of them, go for that one. Service on cruise ships is often a matter of luck and varies greatly from one passenger to another. We found however that our experience on this ship, with the staff we interacted with, was among the best we've had on any cruise. Shore excursions were limited, although this was only the 3rd full cruise for Carnival on this itinerary so I anticipate this will improve over time. The one glaring problem was on our port of call into Russia. This was an unmitigated disaster for everyone. Part of the problem lies with Russia and their archaic immigration systems, but much of the blame lies with Carnival as well. Crowding on the lower deck, and stairwells, and elevators was not just chaotic, but a MAJOR safety hazard as well. They absolutely MUST work on procedures to eliminate this problem. My only advice is that you either be prepared for extensive delays, or don't book anything until after noon on the first day. Dining on the Splendor was very good. The main Dining Room provided decent fare and like service on any ship, is hit or miss. For us, it was fantastic! The song and dance routines were thankfully limited on this cruise, unlike our Valor cruise which had a new song every single day. Uhg! There was a great variety throughout the ship including some wonderful Indian food, rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, pizza and burger dining options. Some of these are not open all the time so watch the daily news bulletin for hours. The Buffet was the exception to an otherwise fine dining experience with always long lines, poor selection and overcrowding in the seating areas adjacent to it. I cannot comment on the disembarkation because we always carry our own luggage off the ship and were among the first people to leave. Talking to our friends who took the more traditional approach commented that it was reasonably well run, with the exception of the transfer arrangements provided by Carnival to Heathrow, which they described as disastrous. We took a taxi, and while it was very expensive, was quick and hassle free. Overall, I would say there are areas of poor design and planning, but this is one of the best ships in Carnival's fleet. The prices were the best of any major line in the region and so I would say this cruise was a great value for this itinerary and would recommend to anyone that doesn't need perfection to have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of ... Read More
First Carnival cruise - Jubilee - about 15 years ago. This was a Panama Canal (part way in) to near the Equator...NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! No, it didn't break down on our cruise; it actually broke on the cruise before ours. Of course, they didn't bother to tell any of the passengers who were boarding for the next trip...nor did they try to fix the A/C. Heaven help you if you were a diabetic...the only sugar reduced dessert was yellow cake. Every night they did change the frosting to another color and they gave it a different name (i.e., pink was strawberry; yellow was lemon; green was mint, etc., etc.). Okay, this was an old ship even at that time but it was always very dirty (perhaps, it was also too uncomfortable for the crew to keep things shipshape (no pun intended). After this cruise, my husband and I swore we would never sail with Carnival again. So much for swearing...move forward about 15 years... Our second (and, without a doubt our very last, forever, no way) cruise was on the Splendor. It was a brand new ship with only two voyages before ours. It was cruising out of Dover, England and would be visiting Northern Europe/Baltic ports. Our brother and sister-in-law talked us into joining them on this trip. Although we were very hesitant to go on this cruise, we decided we would give Carnival another try. I mean a brand new ship - how bad could itt be? Pretty bad, if you want my opinion. . We were on the Spa deck (10) in a handicap room (at the very front of the ship - there are two locations on board the ship for handicap access rooms (the very front or the very back (right next to the crew's metal stairway!). The doorways to these cabins have a wall opposite them making maneuverability difficult if you're using a motorized scooter. They door to the room does open automatically to let you get in when you put your card in the slot (we didn't know about this feature until we were five days into the trip because the door was not functioning when we got on the ship). One problem with that was that the door automatically closed whether you were in the room or in the doorway...smash!!!!!!!!!!! goes the door into your scooter, leg, etc. . Food was alright (nothing special). The desserts (sugar-free) were the same as on our first cruise... The food court was very disorganized and at some points on the line you actually had to reach across food to get to other food (yuck!). . The Styrofoam carvings were - well - there! Ugly - if they didn't want to do fruit carvings or ice carvings... okay, but Styrofoam with plastic flowers just didn't meet our standards. . Shore excursions - who knows! If you were unable to walk well or couldn't climb steps - you needn't bother to book any tours. You can get off the ship and ride your scooter or wheelchair up and down the dock - but, don't expect to go sightseeing. I could go on and on, but I won't. I would like to add one bit of information though, 10 years prior to this cruise we went on the Royal Princess to the same ports (with the exception of Germany) and it was FABULOUS!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
Unfortunately, the one thing I will probably remember most is the hideous decor of this ship: pink circles everywhere along with black tile with green grout; flashing signs with lettering that changed colors; odd shapes and disjointed ... Read More
Unfortunately, the one thing I will probably remember most is the hideous decor of this ship: pink circles everywhere along with black tile with green grout; flashing signs with lettering that changed colors; odd shapes and disjointed visuals. If Salvador Dali had designed Atlantic City it would probably look like this. Several cruisers remarked that they would have skipped the cruise if they'd known it would be like spending 2 weeks in Las Vegas. All of which is too bad because the ship has some nice features. Our balcony cabin was spacious, well-lighted, and exceptionally clean. The bathroom was roomy and bright. The flat-screen TV was a great touch. The removable roof over the main pool was outstanding. Even in the North Sea the pool deck was enjoyable thanks to this feature. When the weather cleared, the sky-roof retracted to let the sunshine and fresh air in. Outstanding!! The food was average to slightly above compared to other ships we've sailed. I especially appreciated the variety - a deli; sushi bar; pizza stop; burger bar; coffee/pastry shop; and more. Service was poor. Every night I had to ask our waiter to get the drink steward over to take my order. On two nights I had actually finished my starters before she came over to take my drink order. Totally unacceptable. I attempted to call Guest Services at least 4 times, allowing the phone to ring at least 20 times each, but it went unanswered each time. Entertainment: Poor. Singers/Dancers were mediocre at best. The closing night's act was an average "Rat Pack" singer that had folks leaving in droves. A magician/comedian was very entertaining, as was a West End soprano, but overall the entertainment was forgettable (and worth skipping). Ship's deck plan was confusing. One of the main dining rooms is situated smack dab in the middle of the 3rd and 4th decks. If dining room is closed you have to go up or down several floors to get to other end of the ship. Very inconvenient. Someone else mentioned the "hard to find" public rooms. I agree. They were well-hidden. As was "The Web" Internet room which was actually inside a bar. Seems odd to have kids/teens have to walk through a bar when they need to use the Internet. There are deck maps posted at each lift, but they have such small print they were virtually useless. Smoking: I was worried about this beforehand, but have to say it wasn't an issue for us. We're non-smokers and weren't bothered at all. Smoking was confined to certain areas and the rules appear to have been enforced. Bravo, Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
The best thing about this cruise were the ports. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We took a private tour to Peterhof and the Hermitage which was wonderful. The next day we took a tour to Catherine's Palace which was a horror. The tour ... Read More
The best thing about this cruise were the ports. St. Petersburg was wonderful. We took a private tour to Peterhof and the Hermitage which was wonderful. The next day we took a tour to Catherine's Palace which was a horror. The tour guide went so fast that she lost four of us. After standing on a street corner for about 25 minutes we met another group and joined them so that we could get to the restaurant where we had an awful lunch and then supposedly saw a show. Since our view of the show was blocked by a wall, we saw very little. However, the palace was wonderful. I would recommend going with either a private car or using a private tour company, not one of Carnival's group tours. Even though Carnival says you must use their tours to get off the ship without a visa, this is a lie. You can also use a tour company that is approved by the Russian Government. We also used a private tour company in Berlin and it cost us about 1/3 of what Carnival was charging. Carnival will tell you that it takes about 4-5 hours to reach Berlin by car. Not true. It took 3 1/2 hours to get there and 2 1/2 hours to return. Now as to the ship itself. The best thing were the cabins. They were nice and roomy and had plenty of storage space. The rest of the ship was a disaster. Imagine having to walk through the cigar smoking lounge to get to the Internet. Our dining room was opposite this lounge so when you exited, you frequently got a lung full of smoke. Also to get around the ship on certain floors, you had to walk through a dining room. There were 3 rooms with 3 washing machines each for over 3,000 passengers. People had to wait many hours to get to a machine. The ship has a huge theater. Unfortunately, the lower level is flat so it's difficult to see and if you sit upstairs, your view is blocked by the rail which runs right in front of your eyes. There was not a show every night which was disappointing. There was one really great show but what could have been an enjoying evening was ruined by 5 stupid young girls who kept shrieking at the top of their lungs. They ruined both performances and nothing was done by the staff to curtail their activities. The food was adequate. Unfortunately the lunch buffet did not open a minute before noon so that if you were going on an early afternoon tour, you could not eat at the buffet. You could however, have a sandwich or pizza. The dessert choices at dinner were very poor. If you like to sit on the covered deck during at sea days, forget it. For some reason that I cannot understand, they kept opening the top so that it was too cold for most people. The library/game was only open for 2-4 hours/day. It really didn't matter since I have more books in my personal library than they did. There were only a handful of games. I could go on and on about the flaws on this ship. All I can say is that this is my first and last trip on Carnival. From now on I'll stick to Princess, Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
We have been on carnival before, Destiny and Liberty inaugural voyage which was wonderful and why I opted for this new ship for the Baltics. Also been on RCL and Celebrity. Embarkation: Slow, unlike Rome with the Liberty. Staff pleasant ... Read More
We have been on carnival before, Destiny and Liberty inaugural voyage which was wonderful and why I opted for this new ship for the Baltics. Also been on RCL and Celebrity. Embarkation: Slow, unlike Rome with the Liberty. Staff pleasant tho. Decor: Way too gaudy, garish and basically too many colors, not cohesive or elegant,imo.However the decor would not dissuade me from sailing on this ship. Cabin: 8331, balcony. Decor ok. enough closet space. Shampoo, soap awful. Bring your own.No shower caps either. Hand soap was a tiny bar and we always had to ask housekeeping to replace it. For some reason despite him seeing it was small he would never replace it in either of the cabins we had. Kids had Inside 8333. Cabin stewards kept cabin clean, but we never really developed a rapport with him possibly because he constantly berated his assistant for all to hear and this annoyed me. He also Commented how tired they were after the last cruise. Check bill on TV daily. On the last day we checked before dinner and for some reason I chose to check again before bed and 2 charges for $7.13 were added, equivalent to 2 bottles of Scotch.( We do not drink alcohol). After much discussion it was removed from our bill. Cabin steward??? Despite it being a small amount, on principle I advised the purser I was more than willing to come down and deduct it from the gratuity.After begging for soap twice for our 2 cabins, laundry bags, laundry slips, I was certainly not rewarding anyone with Scotch. The were plenty of places to relax on sea days and it was not difficult to find a lounger on Lido. Possibly because they opened the roof even when windy and this probably deterred many folks. Promenade deck also had comfy sofas to read a book and enjoy a cappucino on sea days. Food: Breakfast- ample choices. Lunch Buffet- I never did find the food tasty, but there was a lot of variety. The food at the Indian, Rotisserie, Grill, Pizza and Sandwich Bar was nicer imo and so we ate from these places instead. My husband tried the Stir-fry once ,it was ok.Did not get to dining room for lunch so cant comment.Service was good. Dinner: Late Seating 8.30 Gold Pearl. Table for 4. Waiters Ruelito and Yasa were good. Efficient, pleasant. After day 2, cappucinos were brought without asking. Bar Service good. The food however was never hot always room temp or cooler. Not sure why, but i suspect all food, entrees as well are prepared and kept warm as at the Buffet and so looses heat quickly. Many entrees were the same as the Lido Buffet. Food bland, tasteless, underseasoned. Desserts awful on the whole. Warm melting choc. cake one of the nicer ones. Really the food was just so uninspiring at dinner. This is the main reason we will change lines for our next long cruise. Both RCL and Celebrity esp. had far superior food. I understand that when cooking for 3000+ people, one cannot please everyones palate, but this was really just plain boring convention quality food. Maitre D was great. Entertainment: Mediocre, Comedian blah. Many bars.Singers were ok, no one really exceptional. Piano bar fun.El Morocco not bad if you are 50+. Spa:Great. I booked when there were specials. Did do 1 spa day pass. Not worth $35 to me. Gym: often busy in the ams, but if you wait you will get onto a machine. Internet: Not the best spot, tucked away next Cigar bar which you have to enter to get to. Not a suitable location especially in my case as I needed to my son to often help me access stuff. Slow on most days. Ports: Fantastic Tours: Booked Private in St. Petersburg, go to lower decks and hold your ground as many staff were rather firm in wanting to send you back up to Lido. At customs choose the shortest line. They do not care who you are touring with. Did not do ships tours at all so cannot comment on them. Of note: You cannot get a live person on the phone if you dial get services it just rings .You need to go down to the pursers desk and find out what the extension is. Laundry facilities on board are few and far between and people were getting irate. As I have been on other ships where there are no self service laundries I was grateful when I was able to do it. I do not think Carnival is obliged to provide sufficient washers etc for all passengers to use. Debarkation: Self assist. Went fine. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation in Dover was smooth. We discovered upon arrival at the terminal a credit card missing. The staff went out of their way to help us in calling the Dover hotel, to no avail. Once on board the Purser immediately called our Credit ... Read More
Embarkation in Dover was smooth. We discovered upon arrival at the terminal a credit card missing. The staff went out of their way to help us in calling the Dover hotel, to no avail. Once on board the Purser immediately called our Credit Card Company so we could cancel it. Not a great way to start a cruise, but fortunately all was OK thanks to quick responses from the staff. Aboard ship, we were not offended by the decor as others have noted. Yes it is Pink, but in some ways more elegant than the more garish, in your face Freedom decor. Getting around the ship is also somewhat confusing, but that is sometimes half the fun as you discover something new when you get "lost." Unfortunately the Sports & Piano bars were smoking areas so we couldn't frequent them. Laundry facilities are sparse, definitely more needed, especially for a 12 day cruise. On sea days people were lined up in the hallway to use the one facility on the 7th deck and other on the 9th deck. I felt sorry for passengers with cabins anywhere near the laundry. On another front, we were fortunate that the weather was very good, which in the Baltic is mostly iffy. The tour in Tallinn was a waste. We could have walked into town and seen as much. The other tours in St Petersburg and Berlin were great although very pricey. Our guides were knowledgeable & we definitely got a full day's worth on each tour. In all the other ports we ventured out on our own and had a great time. The canal boats in Copenhagen and Amsterdam are the way to go. Helsinki was easy to navigate too. Take the shuttle right on the pier into town. We then did a guided sightseeing bus from the drop-off point. Saved a bunch and had more free time to walk around. Back to rating the Ship, the food was good and we easily changed our dining room and seating. We were originally assigned to the "Golden Pearl" at a table for two, which isn't much fun when you've been married over 30 years and heard each others stories a bazillion times. The "fried eggs" were plastic images meant to look like pearls in oyster shells, but really did look like... well you get the picture. Our new table was right by a window, which is where you want to be to enjoy the late sunsets. We loved the shows, especially Vrooom. We met the family of one of the dancers and it made watching her perform that much more special. Chris the violinist was especially entertaining, weaving a story between playing. Overall, we found all of the servers, staff and crew to be attentive, courteous, helpful and obliging when they could. Our major issue could not be resolved by anyone on board. That responsibility belonged to the actual designers and builders of the Splendor. Our center aft cabin, which we loved for the extended rear balcony, was right above the El Morocco Lounge, which played live music each night until 1 a.m. There seemed to be no sound buffer at all. Having early a.m. tours, hitting the sheets by 11 p.m. seemed desirable, however not possible. Each night I lodged my complaint to the Purser and even had the night Housekeeping manager visit the cabin to hear the problem, which she acknowledged. Another passenger I spoke with also had noise concerns. His family had 2 cabins also on the Upper Deck (level 6) right above the Casino. It was open until 2 a.m. and all his family was sleep deprived too. While Carnival did provide a credit on our bill, I want to for-warn other Splendor travelers of the noise issues especially on deck 6 aft or mid-ship or any cabins near the atrium area on any deck. Too bad some of those millions spent to build this ship weren't spent insuring a good night's sleep for their paying passengers. Overall, we enjoyed the ship, the ports, the food, the service and the shows. Just more sleep, more laundry rooms and fewer smoking areas would have made it an excellent versus an average experience. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Carnival Splendor - Baltic Trip - August 30th - Sept. 11th - 12th - 14th - London Personal Background - 2 Canadians from Innisfil, Ontario retired husband, wife still working..live on a large lake north of TorontoTravel To Port of ... Read More
Carnival Splendor - Baltic Trip - August 30th - Sept. 11th - 12th - 14th - London Personal Background - 2 Canadians from Innisfil, Ontario retired husband, wife still working..live on a large lake north of TorontoTravel To Port of Embarkation: Car to Direct Flight Parking Lot - Shuttle to Pearson Airport - Air Transat to Gatwick Airport, London, England - Hotel - no Hotel ahead of time Embarkation - Shuttle from Airport by bus directly to Docks at Dover...rather long line-up ... but excited, no complaints and it took at least an hour and a half to get through the line to the desk.... Stateroom - Lower Deck....2457...near back of ship....nice window - No balcony...could hear rumble of motor....did report to front desk....wanted to move to middle of ship....no vacancies...Carnival apologized for this inconvenience....will remember not to book near back of ship on lower deck - room was otherwise lovely...nice size...comfortable Ship Info - Carnival Ship is not laid out the greatest as you have it is split in the middle for the kitchen...not a walk-through ship....very pink...some people hated the color combo....didn't mind that...would rate this ship #3 .... definitely not a 4 or 5 Dining - Husband loves fruit....breakfast/lunch buffets do not have a lot of fruit - melon and grapefruit...not a lot of variety Main Dining Room for evening...was lovely and enjoyed all of our meals but not #5....rate a # 3 1/2. Activities - didn't participate - on tours Children's Clubs - no children with us Entertainment - Excellent shows....thought the dancing was superb - rate them #4 & 5.... Shore Excursions: THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO READ CRUISE CRITIC. WE BOOKED AHEAD FOR THE ST. PETERSBURG 2 DAY EXCURSIONS - THOUGHT WE HAVE TO DO IT THROUGH THE SHIP BECAUSE OF THE VISAS....AFTER FINDING OUT ABOUT CRUISE CRITIC....LEARNED THE FOLLOWING: - Buy Steve Rick's Book from Chapters, Indigo or Book Store on Scandinavia - lots of information - Copenhagen - 8 - 4:00 p.m. read Steve Rick's book and read through Cruise Critic to take a walking tour with Richard Karpen www.copenhagenwalks.com - do not have to pay until you meet him at the Visitor's Centre....You take a shuttle from the Ship into the main centre of Copenhagen....walk to Visitor Centre and meet Richard - he dresses up like Hans Christian Anderson ...had a great tour....walked to Rosenborg Castle on our own and did it through Rick Steve's book....short day...did not see Tivoli Gardens where Walt Disney took his idea from - Warnemunde, Berlin - AFTER FINDING OUT ABOUT CRUISE CRITIC, WE BOOKED THIS TOUR THROUGH DEN RUS.....$510.00 for 2 saved over $100. by booking through them....Picked up by bus which took 3 hours to get to Berlin....toured Berlin with Sasha and had a lovely lunch....saw all the highlights of Berlin....great tour....highly recommend www.denrus.ru or Alla, or Red October....all great private tour companies. - Tallinn, Estonia - used Rick Steve's book....also down-loaded www.brentjes.com - walking tour of Tallinn - you walk from the ship to the walled town of Tallinn - can do this all on your own - you can also book a walking tour with Andrew - www.estadventures.ee - good guide - St. Petersburg, Russia - took 2 full day tour with Carnival - expensive - $774.00 for 2 - should have booked either with Red October, Alla or Den Rus....The 2 day one was still very good... a must do, although they do not show you Catherine's Palace....therefore, we booked the evening tour with the ship to Catherine's Palace - pick up at 6:30 -p.m. THIS WAS TERRIBLE - EXPENSIVE - $400. for 2 - they were 2 hours late in arrival....never apologized....so many of us had to use the washroom and there was a tour of old carriages....by the time the line-up to the washroom ended, the lights were turned off on my husband while in the washroom and the doors to the carriage tour locked and we never saw the carriages....the rest of the evening was rushed and the outside entertainment was in the dark....not a good tour and no refund...or partial refund....EXPENSIVE AND NOT WORTH IT THROUGH CARNIVAL.. - Helsinki - shuttle/bus from ship to main part of city -used Rick Steve's book - short day as it was Sunday and most of the stores were not open - walked the main sites - churches, market, etc. took a ferry to the island where the 3rd largest fortress in the world is....Suomenlinna Island Fortress...fabulous experience - Amsterdam - walked from ship to main part of city - saw Red Light District, Rijks Museum, took Canal Tour....shorter day....lots to see in this city - end of ship at Dover....took taxi on our own to the Tube in Dover...took Tube to city of London and then to Montana Hotel, Kensington....do not go there - bad experience.... - London - Hop-on-Hop-Off Bus....during the day and also took night tour...bought tickets to see production of WICKED....great - took advantage of walking tours through Information Centres - saw changing of the Guards...lots to see in London >>>>>EXPENSIVE. All in all a great holiday....general advice .... do not book tours with Ship...book through recommendations through Cruise Critic....Carnival Splendor - #3 in type of ship...love the Royal Caribbean Ships. Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
Embarkation was awful - they encourage you to do everything on the web site but then you get to the port and find yourself on line with a thousand other people who haven't completed all the info on the web site. Why bother doing that ... Read More
Embarkation was awful - they encourage you to do everything on the web site but then you get to the port and find yourself on line with a thousand other people who haven't completed all the info on the web site. Why bother doing that if the end result is waiting on line with people who are having passport issues, visa issues, credit card issues, etc. We purchased our tours through Carnival and will never do that again. The tours were crowded, disorganized and offered little value for the money that Carnival charges for them. Our St. Petersburg and Berlin tours were a mess. Our St. Petersburg tour guide became unglued by the size of our group, and apparently didn't want to do a tour of the Hermitage - after waiting for 20 minutes on the entrance queue, she decided a rest room stop was a good idea in spite of the huge lines in front of the rest rooms. We lost a half hour waiting for everyone. So after nearly an hour, we hadn't seen anything in the museum. She decided not to bring us to the impressionist portion of the tour because the museum was crowded. After 20 minutes in the museum, we did one more rest stop and headed back to the ship. We got a tour of the area surrounding the rest rooms for $79.00 a person. A total rip off. Our Berlin tour was another fiasco. The information desk told us they'd start calling everyone for the "Berlin Top 10 Tour" at around 7:00 AM. What time did they actually call us - 6:30 AM! We literally flew out of our state room only to stand on line for 45 minutes. And as with most of the Carnival tours, we walked around the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag but couldn't go in and actually visit these historical places because we had spend 90 minutes walking around the shopping district. Sorry Carnival, I CAN GO SHOPPING ANYWHERE. They're so intent on making sure people shop, they must have some kind of deal. We didn't need to travel 7,000 miles to Berlin to shop. On our return to the ship, the lines getting back on were crazy and no one was directing passengers on where to go. After nearly a 14 hour day, people are tired and hungry. You would think Carnival would understand that. For this privilege we paid $159 a person. I think their Cruise Director needs to be replaced; his descriptions of the tours had no basis in reality. We cruised with him in 2006 and our opinion of him then was poor. I didn't know he was going to be the director with this cruise also. Had I known, I would have booked my tours elsewhere. As for the ship, the decor of the public areas is just awful. The state rooms are lovely and the cabin staff is terrific. The dining room staff was great but they could use some education with assistance in wine selections. The food was good but selection was limited. The Lido Restaurant was no better than cafeteria food and the service was slow, at best. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2008
We hired a car from Gatwick to Dover. When we arrived there was a lot of people offloading bags from buses, we were approached by a man who arranged for our bags to be sent through and for transport to collect us after returning the car. ... Read More
We hired a car from Gatwick to Dover. When we arrived there was a lot of people offloading bags from buses, we were approached by a man who arranged for our bags to be sent through and for transport to collect us after returning the car. When we joined the queue to get onboard, we were surprised how quickly we got through(as the computers were not working). Once onboard we were offered lunch, and asked to wait in the public areas until the cabins were all ready. This did not take too long and some of our bags were also there, all of the bags arrived within a couple of hours. We explored the ship and yes it is pink, but it grows on you and becomes very relaxing. The cabin has plenty of room for the varied clothing we felt we may need. Our steward was Junior who was on the ball and seemed to appear if we wanted to ask something of him. The cabin was cleaned to a high standard daily, we also ended up with our own zoo as we gained 11 towel animals. The food, if you have sailed with Carnival before you expect good food and service and it didn't disappoint, we enjoyed dinner in the Black Pearl, Amela and Davor really looked after our every need. We tried most of the different eating areas available. The Pinnacle is a must, we went to help a couple celebrate their 40th anniversary, outstanding. The entertainment is again to a high standard, with new shows and the specialty acts brought on were great as well.The entertainment team work hard putting on the daily games and quizzes. Children must be well catered for as we did not see any running wild on sea days. There was a magician,Rakesh, that walked around performing at tables, he was brilliant, no matter how closely you watch, or even if you know how it is done you will believe in magic. The CD was John Heald whose blog we read, he had a meeting with around 50 people who also read his 'Blog thingy' he sat and answered questions for about an hour, and still took time to speak to some individually afterwards. Shore excursions, we took trips in each port, we booked beforehand and were happy with most, but without a doubt the highlight was St. Petersburg grand tour, spread over two days fantastic. All the tour guides were informative and spoke extremely good English. Our favorite Port without doubt was Warnemunde the people were so warm and lovely and gave us a fantastic send off. Amsterdam came close as well. Disembarkation was so easy, we did self assist, walked straight off the ship and again we were directed to a shuttle bus to take us to the car hire pickup. All in all it was a different type of cruise than we have done before but rates as one of our favorites and we were very lucky with the weather. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
This was my sixth cruise; my other cruises have been on NCL Pearl and Disney. This was a twelve day Northern Europe cruise out of Dover, England on Carnival's Splendor. I booked this cruise for the itinerary that included St ... Read More
This was my sixth cruise; my other cruises have been on NCL Pearl and Disney. This was a twelve day Northern Europe cruise out of Dover, England on Carnival's Splendor. I booked this cruise for the itinerary that included St Petersburg, Russia. I have been to Europe but had never visited the majority of ports of call on this itinerary. Added to the great itinerary is that the ship is the new Carnival Splendor. I originally booked this cruise as a solo with an ocean view cabin. About a month before final payment, I added my twelve year old grandson to the cruise. This made the cruise even more special. At the time I added my grandson, I changed to a balcony cabin. I booked the cruise directly with Carnival and made my own flight and pre-cruise hotel arrangements. Except for private tour in St Petersburg, I booked all Carnival excursions and Carnival transport from ship to Heathrow. From Heathrow to London, we used Dot to Dot and were very pleased with the service. We had two pre-cruise days in London staying at the Marriott Hotel County Hall. The hotel is very nice but expensive. Breakfast was included in the price. We only ate breakfast once and for some reason the kitchen could not make pancakes which is what my grandson wanted. Another thing, kids are not allowed in the swimming pool after a certain hour at night. The Marriott Hotel is in a very convenient location, very close to the London Eye. A McDonalds is located in the same complex. I had purchased tickets on-line for Buckingham Palace State rooms for the afternoon. There was a long line when we arrived but I believe we were touring the state rooms within thirty minutes of our arrival. It was a very impressive tour. Headphones are provided for a narrated tour. Photography is not allowed in the rooms. We purchased a few souvenirs from the gift shop (which was really nice) and then left to find a cab back to the hotel. We caught a hop on hop off bus close to the hotel but we were actually too tired to get off, so we just took in the sights from the bus. For our second day I had purchased on-line the Complete London Tour from Golden Tours. I had read some negative reviews about Golden but our tour was just great. This was definitely not a drive-by of attractions. The bus parked away from the attractions and we had to walk to them. There was a lot of walking involved. We saw the Changing of the Guard, Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, and Horse Guards stable and did the Thames River cruise and ended with a ride on the London Eye. The tour guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and did a good job of getting us up close for the Changing of the Guard. I booked the tour that included lunch. I would not have done that had I known the lunch stop would be near Covent Gardens. You only had two choices for lunch, chicken and one other dish. The chicken was tasty, but I would have preferred fish and chips. After eating, we walked around Covent Gardens and purchased souvenirs. Monday morning, we checked out of the Marriott and took a taxi to Victoria Coach Station. I had booked a Fun Fare from London to Dover on the Victoria Coach. On the bus we met Cruise Critic member s and her family. She had organized our St Petersburg tour with Alla from our roll call. Her fourteen year old son and my grandson got together shortly after getting on the ship and became friends. We all got off the bus at the Dover Ferry pier. There were no major problems except for a lack of taxis. It almost appeared there was just one taxi working. But once we got to the Splendor, our luggage was taken by a porter and check-in was very quick and easy. The Splendor is a beautiful ship. The pink does not bother me. Our cabin was a balcony, one deck below Lido deck. There was plenty of storage. Bath gel and shampoo are provided but I didn't use them as I brought my own supplies. Our cabin Steward, Gilbert, did a great job taking care of the cabin and we got lots of cute towel animals. We had early dinner seating in the Gold Pearl Lower at 6:00 p.m. Carnival seated us with a lovely lady and her beautiful sixteen year old granddaughter. My grandson and I both enjoyed our dinners with them. I went to a couple of shows with them and met for drinks while the kids were at their clubs. Our servers were absolutely wonderful, Tajana, Natalya and Survantara (bar waiter). They were all friendly and very efficient. The food was good. The Sole Meunier was excellent, as was the lobster on lobster night. My grandson tried the flat iron steak several times and seemed to enjoy it. Other than that he stuck with pizza. The food was presented very nicely. Regarding other food on the ship the chicken at the Rotisserie is absolutely delicious. It is a must try. I ate lunch there a couple of times. Carnival's version of Mac n Cheese is also good. The pizza is of course good. I didn't get to try the Deli or the Grille this time. I did have Room Service once, a very good bacon, and lettuce and tomato sandwich. The buffet entrees could be improved on but the salad bar was very good. The self serve ice cream was a big hit with my grandson. The buffet tended to get crowded at peak times. I went to lunch in the Main Dining Room once to avoid the buffet crowds. This was one of the best tasting meals I had, Chicken Parmigana and pasta. The first day on board the ship, I signed my grandson up for the Circle C club. This is the kid's club for 12-14 year olds. His friend from our St Petersburg group tour also joined. This was really a fun club for the kids. They met other kids their age and started hanging out together. There was only 100 plus kids on this sailing. There were a lot of fun activities each day. Three times they went to the shows at the Spectacular Lounge as a group. Depending on port and sea days, the activities would start as early as 10 am. Port days, activities started later. All Circle C activities ended at 1230 am. My grandson loved the Club and meeting new friends. I bought the soft drink card for my grandson as well as added money to his Sail and Sign card for the gift shop and arcade. I booked all shore excursions with Carnival with the exception of St Petersburg. For the most part I was happy with the tours. I picked tours that involved walking so that was an advantage over just driving by a place to see through a motor coach window. The one disappointment (not Carnival's fault), is that most of the rides in Tivoli Gardens did not start until later that day. My grandson was looking forward to riding the Demon roller coaster. Our table partners and I believe all the people on our St Petersburg Tour did all of the ports on their own. We did the Copenhagen City Tour and Tivoli Gardens, Hanseatic Wismar and Fairytale Schwerin, Helsinki City Tour, Walk and Shop in Old Tallinn and Sightseeing, Canal Cruise & Shopping in Amsterdam. Our St Petersburg tour was arranged by S a very nice lady from our roll call. There were eleven of us (including the two kids). The tour was with Alla. We really didn't have a problem disembarking the ship. We all met at a designated time outside one of our member's cabin on the second deck. We simply merged in with everyone else leaving the ship. At Immigration, a Carnival employee tried to direct everyone to Carnival line or private tour line. We didn't pay attention to this, just tried to get in the shortest line. The lines actually seemed to move fast. We all had our necessary documents, passport, copy of passport page, and tour ticket from Alla. We were given the red sticker that had to be returned at the end of the day. The second day we all just met at 8:30 at Alla's van and it was even quicker getting through immigration. Our tour guide Angie was excellent and our driver did a great job. Our group was just a great group, friendly and compatible. Of course, my grandson had already made friends with the other kid. I am so glad there was another kid. My grandson started out this trip very much into sightseeing from the beginning in London. By the end of the first day in St Petersburg, I believe he was very tired of churches and museums. Our first day in St Petersburg, we did a city tour, Hermitage museum, lunch at the Pie restaurant and then St Peter and Paul Fortress and Church on the Spilled Blood and St. Isaac Cathedral and the Synagogue. It was a very full and tiring day. Our second day, before we left Alla came to the van and we paid her for our trip. Some of us paid with US dollars and some charged theirs. I really enjoyed the second day. We took a subway ride on our way to the Tsars Village. The subway stations are really quite magnificent. One of our group got left behind when we were getting on the subway. Fortunately, she knew to take the next subway for one stop where we were waiting for her. Fountain Park of Peterhof was the favorite of the boys. They ran through some of the fountains and of course got wet. We toured Monplasire Palace and from there walked to the Hydrofoil. Be aware that it is an extremely long walk from the Palace to the Hydrofoil. The Hydrofoil is worth the walk though. We were given the opportunity to shop at some very nice gift shops on both days. The St. Petersburg port of call is one of the main reasons I took this particular cruise and I have to say it did not disappoint me. I went to a few of the shows and especially enjoyed Vroom. It is one of the best shows I've seen on a cruise ship. It was colorful and filled with very good dancing and music. All too soon it was time to leave the ship. Disembarkation was very smooth, even when it came to finding our luggage from the piles of luggage. A porter helped us with the luggage to the Carnival shuttle bus. I believe our color was called around 7 am and we were on the way to Heathrow by 7:30. Our trip home was uneventful, just very long and tiring. This was a wonderful cruise. I had a great time and so did my grandson. I would actually like to do this itinerary again in a couple of years. Perhaps on Carnival's Liberty, if it is sailing in 2010. I will definitely cruise Carnival again. Read Less
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