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Adam & Julie Vavroch

Age: 29

Occupation:Artist and Nanny

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Legend of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 28th, 2003

Itinerary: 11 night Hawaii

5 days at sea
Day 6: Hilo, Hawaii
Day 7: Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Day 8: Kaui
Day 9: Lahaina, Maui overnight
Day 10: Lahaina, Maui
Day 11: Honolulu, Oahu
Disembark in Honolulu

We decided to do the Hawaii trip on Legend of the Seas b/c we had taken a trip on the Legend in fall of 2001. That itinerary was hard to beat- all around the Mediterranean. Four weeks after “September 11th,” the ship was less than two thirds full. That was certainly an advantage…I think we were spoiled on that trip because this trip to Hawaii on the Legend didn’t quite live up to the Mediterranean trip; however, it was still a fantastic value and wonderful cruise.

Flights: all scheduled by RCCL
Two flights each direction
Cleveland to Houston and Houston to San Diego and then
Honolulu to Chicago and Chicago to Cleveland

Remember to have your travel agent or yourself call the airline ahead of time to book your seats…we did this and were separated anyway…but it is worth a try.

Embarkation: This was the weakest embarkation we have ever encountered (especially with RCCL). Due to Immigration regulations, we had to fly into San Diego but then be transported to Ensenada, Mexico via motorcoach to get on the ship. This process was highly unorganized to say the least. And our flights, transfers, trip insurance were all purchased through RCCL. We arrived at the airport and waited nearly an hour to load the buses. Our bus was “over filled” and our driver had no idea where he was going. We had to pull over to the side of the freeway for 10 minutes approaching the Mexican border to wait for a driver who was familiar with the route so that we could “follow” him. Once we arrived in Mexico, we were alerted that there was a broken down bus, also hired by RCCL, to get passengers to the Legend of the Seas. We, along with the bus we were following, stopped TWICE to help those passengers and ended up picking up 22 of their passengers and driving them the remaining 45 km to the hotel where we had to check in…this was another “downer.”…once we were in Ensenada there wasn’t ample facilities at the pier to check in, so we had to check in at a hotel and then RE load the buses to get to the pier. On the upside, our transfer fees were refunded to us (after complaining) and our luggage was delivered promptly after arriving in our cabin. The purser’s desk was particularly helpful on the Legend.

Cabin:
We chose an outside cabin on the second deck. I believe it was approximately 153 square feet. We had stayed in an outside cabin on the same ship before, only on deck 6. The cabin was very clean. Our cabin steward was fantastic. There is plenty of closet and drawer space and a nice love seat by the television. The bathroom is very tiny and the shower very difficult for my six foot 4 inch husband to use…but overall, we like the rooms on the Legend.

Food/ Dining rooms/ Windjammer:
I found the food in the Windjammer to be “average” to above average. We ate in there every day for breakfast, many days for lunch and 3-4 times for dinner. Often times, it appeared as though the food had been out a while by the time we ate it. They also serve hamburger/ hot dogs/ chicken and pizza in the Solarium café at certain times of the day. This food was average as well. There is only one employee who works there at a time and service is somewhat slow. The food in the main dining room (which is a beautiful two story feature of the ship) was about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. We were disappointed that on an 11 night cruise there was no “lobster night” and were told that it was because they had a special “New Year’s Eve” dinner and menu. We didn’t find that particular menu anything special however. The food, overall, was very good in the dining room for both lunch and dinners. Lunches tended to be a lot of ‘leftovers’ however. One complaint that we have about the dining room is that soft drinks are no longer complimentary even in the dining room as they used to be on RCCL. There was only one elaborate “midnight buffet” as well which is less than usual on an 11 night sailing. It was a “chocolate buffet” and was very pretty and tasty as well. The service in the dining room was good, but not excellent. They were very accommodating of my husband who is known to order a few appetizers, two entrees and often times two desserts. The poolside BBQ’s and luau were an exception to the average food in the Windjammer as the food was always very good at these events. Room service menu is very limited and not very good (at least it is included though).

Public areas: We find the Legend to be a very attractive ship with beautiful public areas. The centrum is very attractive and we especially like all of the windows. The ship holds about 2,000 passengers so it is not a “mega ship”…The pool area was absolutely crowded all of the time- especially on the ‘sea days…’ people started reserving chairs (which you are not ‘supposed’ to do but many did it anyway and we heard several ‘fights’ over chairs- go figure?) Anyway, people would reserve their chairs starting at 6 am…it was quite ridiculous actually. If you got on deck for a chair past 10 am you were basically out of luck. On port days, this was not the case. The jogging track and exercise areas were more crowded than I have seen on any ship. You had to wait no matter what time of day it was and they didn’t offer “sign up” sheets although the trainer in the exercise area did reinforce the “20 minute rule” on aerobic equipment. Maybe everyone made New Year’s resolutions to exercise? We like the layout of the Legend and the look of the public areas. Even though the ship is approaching 10 years old, it is kept up pretty well.

Entertainment: We found the entertainment on the ship to be much improved over entertainment we have seen in the past. The entertainment included comedians, singers, a violinist, pianist, “cirque de soleil” type performance, vocal impersonator and than the typical “Royal Caribbean singers and dancers” shows…I found these shows to be of the poorest quality. It is very evident that they were choreographed and produced MANY years ago and haven’t been updated much since. The caliber of the talent was good but the production and music selection is very poor. Almost laughably so…Again though, the entertainment as far as guest entertainers was very good. The high point of the entertainment were the “Spirit of Polynesia” Hawaiian dance troupe which were on board the entire cruise…always very visible and interacting with the passengers, etc…since we were at sea for 5 days, they really reminded us that we were headed to Hawaii. Everyone seemed to love them, their shows and just their presence on board. There were a lot of on board activities including pool games, evening events such as the “not so newlywed game” and other types of entertaining games, guest talent show, horse racing, LOTS of bingo, art auctions, etc…we attended the art auctions and always enjoy them although we don’t purchase anything. The other activities are fun but we find other ways to spend the day relaxing.

Crown and Anchor (return guest) benefits: We were impressed by all of these- they offered a wine tasting event which was very professionally handled. A “welcome back party” which was nice as well (similar to the Captain’s welcome aboard party). They also gave us a hip sack (commemorative gift) and a book of coupons to use on board which saved us some money.

Spa: I utilized the spa for a pedicure (cost $50) and an “up do” on formal night for my hair ($45). The services were pricey but the staff seemed to be experienced. A bit unprofessional but experienced. The massages and other treatments/ facials were too overpriced so I didn’t utilize any of those. There were some “sea day” and “port day” specials, however. I would suggest doing those.

Service/ crew: We found the crew to be helpful yet they all seemed very tired and many seemed “burned out”. Perhaps it was due to several full ships in a row. We had a full ship and I believe that the Christmas cruise the week prior was full as well. They work very hard and I am sure it is a very tiring career.

Ports of call/ excursions:

We booked all of our excursions through RCCL and were pleased with them all. Our favorite was the Hanalei/ Bali’hi tour in Kawai (which was also our favorite island, incidentally). I highly recommend taking a tour on the last day- it helps expediate the disembarkation process and is a great way to see Honolulu rather than sitting in an airport all day.
Hilo: Mule Drawn Wagon ride through Waipi”o Valley- beautiful scenery and a nice way to see the beautiful Waipi’o Valley- recommend it ($75 pp)
Kona: excursion cancelled due to weather- immediately refunded
Kaui- Hanalei/ Bali’hi tour was wonderful with lunch at a splendid resort- we loved it and had a wonderful guide ($69 pp)
Maui- day one – Lanai wild dolphin and snorkeling adventure (approx. $75 pp)- great excursion with 4 naturalists on board our catamaran- fresh food included. We saw a TON of whales, spinner dolphins and got to snorkel. Very good excursion as well.
Maui- day two- Valley Waterfall Hike (through Hike Maui)- great excursion- $125pp. The hike was VERY rigorous unless you are used to hiking (and we are young). Beautiful garden of Eden tour and a very well trained and educated professional “hiker” as our guide. Long drive halfway up the famous “Road to Hana” (take your Dramamine)….took 1.5 hours each way to get to hiking destination but it was a lot of fun and worth the experiences.
Honolulu- Natural Highlights tour ($47 pp)- great tour- like I said, better than sitting in an airport all day for sure…felt like we really got to see Honolulu and it’s natural beauty.

Conclusion:
Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful place! We adored our time there. RCCL seemed to have ‘dropped the ball’ in a few areas since our last cruise with them but we would be willing to give them another try. The tendering, which I haven’t mentioned, even tended to be a bit disorganized which is rare for them. The embarkation was a nightmare but otherwise, RCCL was still rather organized and we enjoyed being in their care. The food wasn’t splendid but was good and enjoyable. The itinerary was good although the 5 sea days to get there were rough. (literally and figuratively). We enjoyed the ship and the entertainment. All in all, I would recommend the cruise if you are able to get a good value (we paid $3616 for BOTH of us including air and the cruise and taxes)…for 11 nights, we felt this was good for a holiday / New Year’s sailing. Hopefully RCCL isn’t developing a trend of cutting corners…

Make every vacation a good one! You only live once. God bless!

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