Number of Cruises: Many
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Legend of the Seas
Sailing Date: July 18th, 2004
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Joanie and I were the seminar leaders and escorts for a group of travel professionals aboard the Legend of the Seas 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise departing from San Diego, California.
Getting to the Ship:
This was just one of the many great things about this cruise. We live on a ranch in N.E. San Diego county, so getting to the ship was just as easy as our normal drive to the airport. In fact, we parked at the same parking lot that we use when we fly (Airport Connection on Harbor Drive). The ship docks at the "B" Street pier, which is right in the downtown area of San Diego only a few minutes from the airport. Since Surfline's Mexico surf forecast called for a new south swell of 6 to 8 feet during the week in mainland Mexico, we had decided to take surfboards with us and hit the spots in each port. Because of the surfboards and all the luggage, we dropped our stuff at the pier and then parked and took the shuttle back; it was painless.
San Diego's Downtown Area and "B" Street Pier
We had arrived at the terminal by 11 am and the Legend of the Seas began their check-in process shortly after our arrival. Check-in was a breeze and we were through the terminal and on the ship in less than 20-minutes. If for no other reason than to get on the ship early and without pain, I would suggest that you arrive at least the day before the ship’s departure. Folks flying in the day of departure had to scramble to make it to the ship in time and were then greeted with lots of people in the same boat. While our cabin was not going to be available until 1 pm, we were able to drop our carry-ons and surfboards in our cabin and make our way up to the Windjammer for a quick bite to eat.
The First Impressions:
The Legend of the Seas Atrium
This was my first cruise on the Legend of the Seas, but I have sailed most of her sisters in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. The Legend is the epitome of Royal Caribbean, as she features absolutely beautiful public areas, interesting itineraries and traditional dining in a wonderful restaurant with excellent service. The passenger make-up on this cruise was different from any other Royal Caribbean cruise I have taken. The Legend's was noticeably younger than most other Royal Caribbean passenger loads I have seen. There were well over 350 children and numerous young couples in their 20s and 30s. The second you board her and enter the Grand Atrium, you realize that this is a very special ship.
Junior Suite Interior
We were located on deck eight in a Junior Suite and were really glad we were when we entered its 236 square feet.
Junior Suite Balcony
The balcony (another 75 square feet) was large enough for the surfboards and still left tons of room to enjoy the four chairs that occupied it. The cabin offered full length windows along with a full length glass sliding door leading to the balcony. It seemed much more spacious that the square footage indicates and I would highly suggest folks wanting more space look at the junior suite category as a reasonable upgrade. There was a queen size bed (converts into two twins) with nightstands on either side. There were also nightlights on each side with separate controls. A large mirror beside the bed makes the area seem larger than it is and is also very handy when getting dressed. The sitting area of the cabin is very comfortable with a good-sized sofa on one side and two comfortable sitting chairs on the other. A large coffee table stood in front of the sofa. The entertainment/storage area was directly across from the bed and offered a color television with remote (CNN, first run movies, lots of programming) and a good amount of drawer storage for two people. There is a safe hidden from view on one of the three shelves mounted above the television set. Next to the entertainment/storage area was the desk area that offered ample room for my computer, printer, speakers, digital camera stuff and so on. There were two separate 110v outlets (as well as two 220v) The two mirrored side cabinets open towards the large mirror over the desk so that folks can use them to see their hair and other views generally hidden from sight.
Looking into the Hallway
The hallway offered even more storage areas. The main closet area offered two large closet areas for hanging clothes. The men's side offered two levels while the ladies side only one to accommodate full length gowns and other long dresses. A small bar area resided by the door into the bathroom and by the doorway leading to the ship, another series of enclosed shelves resided.
Bathroom in Junior Suite
The bathroom was wonderful! First the amenities that were provided were complete (including cotton balls, Q-tips, large bottles of quality shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, bath gel and lip balm) Bathrobes were provided for the entire cruise, as well. The mirrored cabinets by the the sink offered substantial storage (even though we used our toiletry bags instead) and there was a full sized bathtub/shower combination. I especially enjoyed the bathtub.
The Romeo and Juliet Restaurant, decks 4 and 5, aft: This is the main dining venue on the Legend of the Seas serving a formal breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Breakfast and lunch are generally open seating, while dinner is served in two seatings, main and late. Main seating sits for dinner at 6 pm, while late sits at 8:30. On almost every evening, there is a pre-dinner show for late seating passengers so that everyone is done with dinner and a show (no pun intended) by around 11 pm.
The Romeo and Juliet Restaurant
The Romeo and Juliet Restaurant features a full dinner menu with appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, entrée and traditional deserts. Everyone found the quality of the food and the presentation extremely good. Every meal I had left me quite satisfied and wanting for nothing. Our waiters made it quite clear, that they would correct any element of the dining experience that was not up to par, but no one took them up on it, as the meals were simply wonderful. Joanie had a birthday celebration onboard and we were treated like family with a huge layer cake and a birthday song.
The Windjammer Café, deck 9, forward: The Windjammer is the Legend's buffet venue and is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dinner. I loved the Windjammer, as there was always fresh fruit, yogurt, juice and other healthy choices in ample quantity to make even the most demanding health nut happy. Lunch continued the healthy offerings with fresh steamed vegetables daily along with an excellent salad bar. Here Royal Caribbean stands out as exceptional, in my opinion.
The Windjammer Cafe
There are also traditional breakfast offerings such as eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, cereals (hot and cold) and several other choices. Outside the Windjammer Cafe, a breakfast buffet was set up serving hot food items and also included an omelet station. Lunch always saw many different selections. On the main buffet there was always a fish and meat selection, as well as a specialty carved meat, potatoes, soup, bread and other selections. A specialty buffet line was also offered daily. Asian fare, Indian cuisine, Thai noodle dishes and so were offered on some days. While crowded during peak hours, the Windjammer was a comfortable place to enjoy a casual meal. While we didn’t dine in the Windjammer for dinner, we heard that it was a pleasant experience.
The Solarium Bar
The grill next to the Solarium Bar also served lunch and snacks all day long. Hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches were a favorite with many of the passengers. In the afternoon, cookies (and other treats) were made available for those that wanted them. One of the favorites with everyone was the unlimited ice cream cones that were available by the main pool bar. Offering two different flavors every day (and a blended selection as well) every afternoon saw numerous people walking around licking their ice cream cones. Coffee, iced tea, milk and water were available all day long at the same area and juice in the morning, replaced by lemonade in the afternoon was always available in the Windjammer Café.
Joanie and I used room service frequently for coffee in the morning and had exceptional service. Of course, we tipped early and often. HINT: If you use room service you should tip at least 1 or 2 dollars each visit. If you do not tip, you will find room service gets slower and slower on any ship.
The Entertainment Venues
The "That's Entertainment" Theater, deck 4, forward: The Legend of the Sea’s main entertainment showroom is an excellent venue for the production shows that are presented almost every evening. Excellent sight lines and acoustics add to the enjoyment of the performances. In order to get a front row seat, however you must arrive early. Late arriving passengers will find it difficult to find seats easily, as once the lights are dimmed, the terraced nature of the showroom makes it uncomfortable to negotiate your way to a seat. HINT: If you plan to attend a show, make sure you allow 5 to 10 minutes in advance of the start of the show to find seats and get settled in.
That's Entertainment Theater
The Anchors Aweigh Lounge, deck 5, forward:
The Entrance to the Anchors Aweigh Lounge
This lounge is one deck above the That's Entertainment Theater and is used for many of the shows (especially the comedians)
Anchors Aweigh Lounge
Once again I would recommend arriving early as the seats in the rear of the lounge are subject to the noise at the bar in the rear of the room. The Anchors Aweigh Lounge is an intimate venue allowing you to feel personally involved with the performance. This is also the scene of the repeater's party and other functions.
The Champagne Bar, deck 4, midship: Every evening before and after dinner a group plays dance music in front of the Champagne Bar. Couples enjoy the slow dance tunes (especially on formal night.) The music produced by the group is excellent and the surroundings are beautiful. Joanie and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out here and on evenings when we did not have plans to meet other members fo the group, would relax here with a fine glass of wine before dinner.
The Legend's Champagne Bar
The Viking Crown Lounge, deck 11 aft:
The Viking Crown Lounge
This is Royal Caribbean’s signature lounge that resides on every Royal Caribbean ship. It is a great bar, a disco, scene of the ship’s karaoke nights and an all around fun place to be.
The Viking Crown Lounge Piano Bar
At the rear of the Viking Crown Lounge is an area designated for cigar smokers and it was heavily used during this cruise, however the scent, nor the smoke never made it to the public bar side of the room. The Viking Crown Lounge is an excellent place to meet and our group took full advantage of it. The intimate piano bar area is also very special.
The Schooner Bar, deck 4, port, midship:
The Schooner Bar
The Legend of the Sea's Schooner Bar was the place to enjoy an after dinner cocktail and to relax to the piano bar's wonderful entertainer. It was always active and a great place to meet people.
The Casino, deck 4, midship: The Legend offers a huge casino for the ship’s size. There is row after row of slot machines and many gaming tables and folks seemed to be winning. Several in our group gambled the entire cruise and ended up ahead of where they started. While always active, the casino didn’t seem to be over crowded, as one sees during the evening hours on some ships.
The Card Room
The Card Room, deck 7, midship: This is easily the coolest card room on any ship that I have seen. It is large, offers tremendous views, and is isolated so that one can really get into their card games.
The Library, deck 7, midship: Again this is a really outstanding library offering lots of books in a beautiful setting.
The Legend of the Seas Library
The Internet Café, deck 8: midship: While the Internet Cafe is beautiful, the connection is slow and it ends up being very expensive if you need to stay in touch. The Legend does not offer "in cabin" access so if you need to go online, the Internet Cafe is your only choice. Fortunately, there are Internet Cafes in every port with reasonable rtes and broad band access.
The Internet Cafe
The Loyalty Ambassador’s Office, deck 8, midship:
The Crown and Anchor Society Office
Royal Caribbean has an excellent loyalty program for its Crown and Anchor Society members. Joanie and I are “Diamond” (more than ten cruises on RCI) members and the benefits are very meaningful. From discounts on board, to priority tender passes, to priority embarkation and debarkation, Royal Caribbean’s loyalty program is tops in the industry. Be sure to join, as it costs nothing and you will immediately reap the benefits.
The Pool Areas:
The Legend of the Seas Pool Area and Viking Crown Lounge
The main pool is a great feature on the Legend. It offers a good amount of lounge chairs. two Jacuzzis, afternoon entertainment and piped in music the rest of the day.
The Legend of the Seas Pool Bar
The waiters from the main pool bar serve the pool area and one never has to wait for the opportunity to order a libation if one so desires.
The Legend of the Seas Pool Area
The fully enclosed Solarium pool is open 24-hours per day (so are its 2 Jacuzzis) and is always a comfortable temperature for relaxing and swimming. While we didn’t spend much time in the Solarium, many folks made it their location of choice on sea days.
The Fitness Center:
The Fitness Center
The Legend has a sufficient fitness center with everything you will need to maintain your work out. There are treadmills, a ski machine, a step machine, high and low stationary bikes, free weights, exercise balls and bands and enough Cybex machines to exercise all major muscle groups. Additionally, occasional classes were offered (some with a $10 fee)
Fitness Center Weight Machines
The Rock Climbing Wall on the Legend of the Seas
In addition to the Fitness Center, the Legend of the Seas also has a Royal Caribbean's signature rock wall to get your work out on. The rock wall is so popular on this ship that you need to make appointments to scale its formidable face.
The Legend's Miniature Golf Course
If the Fitness Center and rock wall are too much for you, try a round of miniature golf up on deck 10. It is free and no reservations are required.
Sunday July 18th, 2004; San Diego, California (God’s Country)
We arrived at the cruise terminal and boarded almost instantly. We had packed a carry-on with our bathing suits and toiletries and wasted no time changing and making our way to the pool area to enjoy the stellar day. Joanie and I laid out in the sun and when it came down to cool down, went into the solarium to enjoy the pool’s cooling qualities before returning to the sun. We were joined by other friends and spent an entirely enjoyable afternoon enjoying the Legend. Considering most folks were wandering about looking lost, we considered this afternoon as a complete bonus cruise day. About 4 pm we made our way to our cabin to get our life preservers for the dreaded “SOLAS Life Boat Drill”. While absolutely necessary, I always grade a ship and crew as to how painless they can make this drill without impacting its obvious importance. The Legend did an excellent job of expediting the drill, yet covering the important information the drill is held for.
We had decided since our balcony was on the starboard side of the sip, that we would spend the departure on our balcony and enjoy the departing vistas of Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Point Loma as we made our way to the open ocean before turning south for the run to Cabo San Lucas. For those that have not sailed from San Diego before, it is a fabulous city and port. The “B” Street pier is located right at the foot of the heart of downtown San Diego and one is treated to a fabulous overview of the San Diego Harbor area as you depart the harbor. As a San Diegan, I think it is the best part of the entire cruise (but then I am very partial to San Diego).
We had arranged for a non-host cocktail party (for those interested in our group) and we met for the first time in the Viking Crown Lounge. I was impressed that virtually everyone in the group attended the party and we all got to meet one another before making or way to our first dinner together. Dinner was absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed excellent service and a great menu. I enjoyed the baked cod with vegetables and would highly recommend it, if you see it on the menu. Since we lost an hour this evening moving the clock forward, and I needed to be up early to do the first of our two seminars in the morning, I decided to turn in right after dinner and slept like a new born baby, as did Joanie.
19th, 2004; Day at Sea
When the call came in the morning announcing our coffee was about to be delivered, all I wanted to do is roll over and continue my very peaceful night’s sleep. However, I got up, enjoyed some coffee and then made my way up to the Windjammer Café for some fruit and yogurt. This was the morning of the first of our two seminars, so after a quick breakfast, I made my way to conference room 1 in the Conference Center. Everything was prepared perfectly and the seminar participants began showing up in time for a timely start. We had a great time getting to know one another and before we knew it, the three hours had passed and it was time to conclude the meeting. Joanie and I then planned to spend the afternoon in the wonderful sunshine that had blessed our day. We were not disappointed.
Evening brought us to the first formal night and the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party. We had great fun socializing with some of the members from our group and then made our way to the Romeo and Juliet Restaurant for a wonderful formal dinner. The dinner conversation continued into the evening and we ended up being the last table to leave the restaurant. One of the couples in our group had sailed the Majesty of the Seas on a previous cruise and had recognized the entertainer in the Schooner Bar’s piano bar as someone with exceptional talent. A number of us joined the couple to enjoy the entertainer. Joanie and I were bushed, so after one set, we turned in for the evening.
Tuesday, July 20th. 2004; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico
The Surf Break Known as "The Rock" as Seen From Zippers Restaurant
We awoke to a beautiful day with the sunshine calling for us to enjoy the day. Before the cruise, we had check the surf forecast and found that there was a moderate south swell expected to fill in on Monday and slowly drop during the week. Based on the good news of a swell, we planned to surf at each port of call and brought our surfboards with us. We were off the ship tendering into shore with high hopes of enjoying some quality surf. While no swell was apparent in the Cabo area, we negotiated for a van to take us the 20 some odd miles to the surf area known as “Costa Azul”. As soon as we dropped down the road into the Costa Azul area, we were greeted with quality walls wrapping around Palmilla Point. We continued to the wash that marks the southern-most point of Costa Azul and quickly got our surfboards and other paraphernalia and started the trek down the beach.
Joanie and Debbie Relaxing at Zippers Restaurant
We decided to leave the ladies in our group in the hands of Zipper’s Restaurant where they enjoyed a great view of the surf, lounge chairs to enjoy the warm sunshine and a very friendly bar and restaurant to fill any requirements they might develop while we surfed. We enjoyed the somewhat inconsistent 3 to 4 foot surf and had a good number of quality rides. Andy, my son, even managed to get barreled on a set wave right in front of me, which is a feat, as the waves at Costa Azul rarely pitch. We surfed for a good amount of time and then got out to enjoy a fabulous lunch at Zippers Restaurant. While Costa Azul and Zippers Restaurant is far from Cabo San Lucas, if one surfs, or wants an experience that shouts the ambiance of Baja, a visit here is well worth the trouble.
The Surf Break Known as Zippers, Zipping
We finally met our van driver at the appointed time for the ride back to Cabo San Lucas where some of the guys took the surfboards and went back to the ship while I went with Joanie and another lady that had joined us, to find an Internet Café to clean up some business that needed attention. All in all, it was a great day.
Back on board, I headed straight for the Jacuzzi to soothe my aching muscles from a day of surfing. The Solarium Jacuzzis were just the ticket and after a bit of relaxing, I returned to our cabin to work on the computer for a while. The Royal Caribbean repeater’s party was scheduled right before late seating dinner, so Joanie and I attended the function. It was amazing to me just how many repeat clients Royal Caribbean had on aboard. The RCI loyalty program is truly one of the best. After the cocktail party, we made our way to the Romeo and Juliet Restaurant for another wonderful meal with many of the members of our group. The service. quality of food and presentation was simply wonderful. We switched tables among our group each night and were able to experience three different serving teams and all were wonderful. We were bushed from the exercise and sunshine and decided to turn in right after dinner.
July 21st, 2004; Mazatlan, Mexico
We had originally planned to negotiate a panga to take us out to Stone Island's point for a surf session, but based on the reality that the promised swell just had not materialized, we decided to visit the Golden Zone instead. There is an excellent left point right in front of Valentino’s disco, and the beach in front of the Oyster Bar also holds some reasonable beach break waves. One of my favorite breaks in Mazatlan, Cannon's Point turned out that the swell had too much south in it to get it to break. The point in front of Valentino’s was the only thing breaking in Mazatlan, and was therefore, very crowded, while not having its usual quality because of the steepness of the swell. We ended up hanging at the beach for the day before making our way back to downtown Mazatlan. A couple of the guys took the surfboards back to the ship while Joanie and I shopped for prizes at Mazatlan’s “Mercado”. We later joined up at the Shrimp Bucket for a late lunch and libation. While the shrimp was good, it couldn’t hold a candle to the excellent meal we had enjoyed the day before at Costa Azul’s Zippers.
Back on board, we had just enough time for a Jacuzzi and short swim before getting ready for the evening’s meal. We met in the Champagne Bar for a glass of wine and then made our way to the restaurant. After a wonderful meal with lots of laughter and camaraderie, we decided to join a good number of our group in the Schooner Bar to enjoy the piano bar. Once again the sun had taken its toll and Joanie and I were off to bed.
22nd, 2004; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Ahhhh, Puerto Vallarta. Joanie and I love the Puerto Vallarta area and have vacationed north of Puerto Vallarta a number of times. The surfing north of Puerto Vallarta, while difficult to locate, is excellent. We had decided to visit one of our favorite breaks on Punta Mita, known as Dinosaurs located at Los Veneros. Dinosaurs is a quality right point/reef that is very similar to Swamis in San Diego (our home break) and breaks on a south swell. It was our hope that the current swell would penetrate the coastline and that Dinosaurs would be breaking with enough size and energy to enjoy the break. After a 45-minute taxi ride we arrived at Los Veneros, entered its facility and made our way down to the vanishing horizon swimming pools for our first look at the break. Sigh, again, no surf. There was a little swell with 1-2 ft. sets, so we decided to paddle out and enjoy the miniature waves for what they were. Most folks think that surfing large waves is the most dangerous thing about surfing. The truth is, that surfing small waves over shallow reefs is a thousand times more dangerous. My son Andy hit the reef while duck diving a small set wave and not only dinged his board deep enough to penetrate the glass, he also acquired a rather nasty reef burn.
The View From the Upper Pool at Los Veneros Beach Club
Los Veneros is a wonderful beach club that not many cruisers find out about. It has a $12 access fee that includes one free cocktail, towels, use of the wonderful showers and restroom facilities, swim up bar and restaurant. There are two separate “vanishing horizon” swimming pools (the top one for adults only) and an excellent beach. The best part of Los Veneros is that it overlooks an first-rate surf spot. This is an superb choice if some in a group surf and others want an easy-to-enjoy beach club.
Some of the Group Members Hard at Work at Los Veneros Beach Club
We eventually called it a day and made our way back to the ship to drop off our surfboards and change for a late afternoon shopping adventure in Puerto Vallarta’s old section shops, boutiques and markets. We were not disappointed with the shopping and the overall experience. After an hour and one half of hard negotiating, we had accumulated enough prizes or our upcoming seminar and started to make our way to “Roberto’s Restaurant,” a restaurant that a group of us had found on my last visit to Puerto Vallarta. We arrived to find other couples from our group, so we took over a large table and began to consider the cocktail and dinner menus. While we had a great dining experience, the magic that had materialized on the last visit failed to appear. The lobster was so-so and the service was, oh well, lackluster, at best. I was disappointed, being the one that organized the event. While I would give it another try during lobster season, I am going to modify my recommendation of the restaurant on PortReviews.com. After a full meal and cocktails, some of us decided to simply walk off dinner by making the trek back to the ship on foot. This turned out to be an excellent decision and the Malecon was packed with the local population, as was the area (south of the river in the old section of P.V.) leading the way back across the river to where the tourist markets were located. It was a humid and balmy evening, and the lengthy walk let everyone enjoy Puerto Vallarta’s wonderful nights. Once back on the ship, Joanie and I turned in for the evening ready for a good night’s rest.
Friday, July 23rd,
2004; Day at Sea
We awoke with the arrival of our morning coffee at our cabin door and after tipping the server, settled onto our balcony to enjoy the early morning. The sun was already bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. We spent the entire day by the pool relaxing. It was glorious. As this was the second formal evening and the time for our group photograph, many in our group had arranged to meet for cocktails in the Schooner Bar before taking our 8:30 pm photograph right before going into dinner.
Unfortunately, the photographers had grossly overbooked themselves and there appeared to be folks simply demanding pictures even though they had not made a reservation. The guy that was helping the photographer had the management skills of a 12-year old and our group waited quite a while suffering his inadequacies. One in our group nick-named the guy "Franz" from the Steve Martin movie "Father of the Bride". It was a perfect name for him. Finally, we simply pushed out way onto the stairs like everyone else was doing and got the shot taken. This was actually the only event I could complain about on this cruise. The Legend's photography team is lousy, to say the least.
We enjoyed our last formal dinner (lobster, of course) and then moved on to the Schooner Bar for more piano bar music. It was a great evening.
Saturday, July 24th, 2004; Day at Sea
The morning started with our usual coffee via room service, but we found the morning covered with a cold haze much like San Diego's famed June Gloom. It didn't promise to be a pool day, so I made the decision to do seminars all day for those that wanted them. Our second seminar was scheduled for the morning from 9 am until noon in the Conference room, but we were able to secure the room until 2 pm. The seminars went extremely well and the group had bonded the way only cruise groups can. I finally called it quits around 2:30 pm and went for a sandwich to hold me over until dinner.
We had arranged for a hosted cocktail party for the group prior to dinner in the Viking Crown Lounge and met everyone there at 7:30 pm. By now, everyone had bonded and was having fun with one another. In addition to the business card exchange, we held a "White Elephant Auction" so that those that purchased things they now wondered why, could make them available to the group member with the highest bid. It was nothing but fun and everyone enjoyed the interchange.
The last day of a cruise is always the most depressing for me. It seems like you have fallen into "cruise mode" and now it is time to pack to return home. We had made some new friends on this trip and I was sad to see them move on with their lives and us ours. The last night's dinner went very well and a good number of us continued on to the Schooner Bar for one last cocktail together. Joanie and I turned in.
Sunday, July 25th, 2004; San Diego, California
We were up early, had a quick breakfast and were off the ship by 8:30am. After a quick telephone call to Airport Connections and they dispatched an entire van just for us. It was a good thing, as we had a substantial amount of luggage and surfboards. After a quick 45 minute drive, we were home.