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Noel Orraca

Age: 21 to 35

Occupation:n/a

Number of Cruises: 3 to 5 Cruises

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Legend of the Seas

Sailing Date: November 21, 1998

Itinerary: Panama Canal

Background

My wife (34) and I (35) were on cabin 8078 (cat C.). This was our third cruise, all on RCI. Our first cruise was on the Monarch (7-day Caribbean), and the second was on the Splendour (11-day Caribbean). As in our Splendour review, our comments are based in comparison to earlier cruises.

Overall Impression

This was an excellent cruise, better than our Splendour experience, but slightly weaker than the Monarch. We were pleasantly surprise to see that we had a younger passenger group than the Splendour with the average been around mid-fifties. As a result, the ship was more alive than the Splendour. Still, we found things were RCL could improve upon, these we be listed throughout the review. My wife and I did feel that 14 days is probably our limit in terms of length of cruise (too much of a good thing is not necessarily better).

The Ship

The ship was identical to the Splendour, except the decorations. All our cruises have been on category C suites. Our balcony was a major plus, especially with 7 days at sea, and the canal crossing. We can not see ourselves traveling in anything other than a balcony cabin in the future. NOTE TO RCI: for the money that we paid for a suite, we should have been allowed priority disembarkation. We did prefer our cabin facing the back of the ship on the Splendour.

The Food

This was the most disappointing part of the cruise. This was by far the worst food we have had in any of our cruises (not to say that it was terrible, but not to RCL standard). The menu has been changed beginning with our cruise. There are no longer theme nights. I know that food is a very personal issue, however the complaining about the lack of quality or originality in the food became a major subject of conversation among ALL passengers throughout the cruise. RCL NEEDS ADDRESS THIS INMEDIATELY. Service in the dining room remains excellent.

Entertainment

The entertainment was good, with a decent variety. However, I did not feel that we had a headline entertainer during the cruise. The music reviews were the same as other cruises. The lounge and Centrum singers were the best we have ever had.

The Trip

Day 1: Even though we had the air/sea package from RCI, we did not like the flight they put us in from San Francisco to San Diego and booked our own. We arrive in San Diego about 9am, and located an RCI rep soon afterward. We were among a handful of cruisers that had arrive early and avoided the crowds. The ride to the pier was about 5 minutes. I must say that the facilities in San Diego were excellent, and the fact that we were the only ship in town made the whole embarkation experience that much better than in prior cruises. We were on board by 12 noon. Since this was our 3rd cruise, we have our routine set when we board. First, we go to the cabin to drop off the carry-on luggage and pick up the excursion form. Then, we headed to the Windjammer café for lunch, where we pick our excursions. Afterwards, we went to the Spa to book our treatments. The rest of the day was spent exploring the ship, which was outstanding.

We went to dinner, where we met our tablemates, which turn out to be the best ones yet. Our waiters were very good, but not up to par with the ones we have had in our prior cruises. The same can be said for our cabin steward, who did his job throughout the cruise but never went the extra mile.

Day 2 : We spent the day at sea. My wife had a massage at the Spa, where we ended up spending a lot of time and money during the cruise. This was the nicest and most professional spa personnel we ever had on a cruise. Special mention to Debbie from England and Emma from Ireland who provide my wife and I with excellent service throughout the cruise.

Day 3: Cabo San Lucas. We booked the boat trip to Los Arcos and Scenic Drive. You get a nice view of Los Arcos from the ship when it anchors on the bay, so I did not feel this excursion was worth the money. Some of our tablemates went to the land only excursion, and had a better time. However, Cabo can be easily explored on foot.

Day 4 : At Sea. More spa time and spent most of the time reading in the solarium.

Day 5: Acapulco. My wife is Mexican and her family came over to meet us from Mexico City. I can not say anything about the excursions, but the City is not what it once was. It is crowded with poor people, and if you walk outside the pier vendors will hound you. The traffic is terrible, with many streets still not repaired since the hurricane that hit the City earlier in the year. Most passengers we talked to did not enjoy this port.

Day 6-7 At sea. More relaxing time at sea, with some strong gale winds on day 6 which made sitting by the pool almost impossible. More time in the Spa for the wife and me. Had dinner in our balcony one night (room service) which was great. NOTE TO RCI: The tables inside the cabin and the balcony are inadequate for having lunch or dinner. A table that hidden on the wall (at least on suites) would be a nice addition.

Day 8 : Punta Arenas, Costa Rica: A new pier was built in Punta Arenas (10 miles from the old pier), and we were the first ship to use it. The whole town turned out to see us when we got there and throughout the day (it was Saturday). Costa Rica is my favorite country in Latin America, and it did not disappoint us this time either. Since we had been to San Jose, we opted for the horseback Riding excursion, which was very nice (please note that excursion goes mostly through a mango farm and not through the rain forest as it seems in the brochure). There is a flea market at the pier where you can get most of the stuff you can get at Sarchi. From what I heard most people had fun in the excursions, except for the Poas Volcano one because it was cloudy at the top and people could not see the Crater. This happens frequently from what I gathered.

Day 9 : At sea. Another sunny day spent near the pool. On our way to the Canal, the Ship entered a bay in Panama full of islands and lush tropical jungles. It was an amazing sight.

Day 10 : Crossing the Panama Canal. A once in a lifetime experience. Our balcony paid for itself here as the entire ship seemed to be on deck every time we went through a lock. NOTE TO RCI: During the cruise it was constantly advertise that Panama Canal merchandise would be sold only from 7am to 12noon on the day of the crossing on the Pool Deck. For the life of me I can not fathom why they do this. It was a zoo to buy anything. First, cashiers were charging the cards by hand, which made the paying line almost as long as the canal. If the ship can not move registers to this area, then have the sale in the Centrum. Also, the souvenirs were set up near the entrance to the Windjammer café, which made moving around difficult for both shoppers and Windjammer passengers alike. This should be moved to both sides of the pool where dual-shopping lines can be created.

Day 11 : Cartagena, Colombia. The ship only docks here for 5 hours, so the only practical way to see the city is by excursion. This city is similar to Acapulco, in that you will be hounded the vendors constantly and the traffic is terrible. NOTE TO RCI: Consider eliminating this port. Everyone that took tours had negative experiences, including us. A good substitute would be the San Blas Islands. If RCI keeps going to this port, then the excursions need to be address. For all excursions, passengers were hoarded from one sight to another with very little time spent on each one. All excursion stops were terminally crowded with tourists and vendors. RCI should reduce the number of stops, with the extra time devoted to the remaining stops and shopping. Shopping at Cartagena we found to be very good, however, all tours leave you with very little time to shop. If your time is limited in Cartagena, consider skipping the tours and head straight for the shopping area!

(or take a shopping excursion, if the ship has one). IMPORTANT: Of the 3 excursions offered by RCI only the DELUXE excursion (the one we took) had air-conditioned buses. This turned out to be a wise choice because it was hot, and because it shielded us from the vendors. Some of our tablemates took one of the other 2 excursions, and had vendors coming through the open windows as they drove around.

Day 12 : Aruba. We had been here a year ago on the Splendour. So we decided to rent a jeep a head out to Baby Beach on the eastern tip of the island. We had a nice time there, and drove around the island on our way back to the ship.

Day 13-14: At sea. More Spa treatments and time in the Solarium.

Day 15: Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale. Had a friend pick us up and take us to Miami International where we boarded our non-stop flight to San Francisco.

Summary

My wife and I had a great time on the Legend notwithstanding the problems or weaknesses noted above. For anyone with questions or comments about the ship, itinerary or excursions, please send me an e-mail to orraca@compuserve.com .

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