Monday, 23 January 2017

TNL Takes a Trip: Carnival Legend - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

via Wikipedia
I know it's been a hot minute since the last TNL Takes a Trip installment; but in all honesty, I haven't felt like writing this post because (a) I'm about to get all ranty-pants on you & (b) I've wondered how on earth to condense a 17-night cruise into a blog post without boring the shit out of everyone. However, they say "there's a solution to every problem" & I've found mine. Just warning you now: this is going to be a looooooooong post!

Before I start, I'll add that this was the 8th cruise that I've been on in my lifetime & whilst I don't consider myself a seasoned cruiser, I've certainly been on enough of them to know what to expect in terms of entertainment, food, decor & the like & in those areas, the ship that John West rejected Carnival Legend was a complete & utter letdown. I'll also add that the ship stopped in Papeéte, Moorea & Bora Bora (Tahiti/French Polynesia), Suva (Fiji) & Nouméa (New Caledonia), just so you have a guide of where I went.


Let's start with the positives about my sojourn from Honolulu back to Sydney last September:

THE GOOD
*Indulging in the Absolute Spa Ritual at the onboard spa. Consisting of a massage & a facial tailored to my skin, my delightful English therapist Lily did as much as she could to knead out all of the tension my body had been holding throughout my travels. Whilst I can't say that I'm a massage virgin (I've had 1 or 2 before), I can definitely say that my body was left feeling utterly rejuvenated & tingly (in a good way). That massage was just the thing I needed to feel brand new! As for the facial, I confess this was the first facial I'd ever had. Having sensitive/reactive skin has previously made me cautious about getting one, but Lily put me at ease with the use of products tailored to my skin type. I quite enjoyed the peel-off mask as well as the eye products used, one of which I bought since I was in need of an eye product anyway.
*Kicking arse at 90's and 00's music trivia. You know you're a total music geek when this happens:

trivia


*Finally seeing Irish-Australian comedian Dave Callan perform live. I've liked this guy since the Rove Live days & I'm still envious at his execution of the Crazy In Love choreography! (It's probably on Youtube somewhere, go find it.)
*The day my folks & I had in Moorea. Having missed out on Moorea the last 2 times I've cruised the Trans-Pacific route, going there at long last was wonderful & the smooth & efficient tender process certainly helped. Anyone who's been on a cruise where there are tenders involved knows how chaotic it can be, so to have a positive experience for once was great. My Dad & I went out for a couple of snorkels at the resort we went to, I took a tonne of photos, my Mum sat & quaffed some wine at the resort restaurant, we were all happy the end. I'm not gonna waffle anymore, images time!

Moorea, travel, paradise

Moorea, travel, paradise

Moorea, travel, paradise

*The midnight buffet on the 2nd formal night. Not because I indulged in delicious treats; I enjoyed it for the nostalgia factor. It took me back 20 years to my first ever cruise on Royal Caribbean's since-decommissioned Nordic Empress, where my brother & I would make sure we stayed up for the midnight buffets every night. I was always amazed by all the ice sculptures & fruit carvings & this time around was no different, except I was scrambling with all the other people in there snapping away on their phones & cameras.

buffets, ice sculptureFood, buffets
Food, buffets


THE BAD
*Papeéte & Suva are still absolute shitholes. Only get off if you need to regain your landlegs or are desperate for free Wi-Fi, both of which you might want by the time you see the internet prices on-board & you've spent 5 days at sea sailing from Honolulu to Papeéte....trust me.😉
*Nouméa's still a bit meh. The 'rents & I got off & my Dad & I were going to go swimming somewhere, but we took one dip in the water, went "nah, too cold" & decided to go back to the ship lol.

Nouméa, travel, beaches
The aforementioned beach in Nouméa, New Caledonia
*The weather in Bora Bora was unfortunately not great the day we arrived, so I decided not to bother with getting off the ship for the day. The irony was by the time we set sail, the weather had taken a change for the better....too late!
*The onboard activities were quite repetitive e.g. every sea day involved a bean bag or champagne ring toss & Trivial Pursuit was almost always on.
*The pool deck parties were lame as & barely anybody showed up to them, except for maybe the first one on"Caribbean Island Night". People were up on the pool deck, dancing the night away & having a good time (or at least my Mum & I were) when the so-called "Fun Squad" (aka the cruise director's entertainment staff) & their merry leader (the cruise director herself) came up on deck & proceeded to teach everyone how to hula, as well as hosting a hula contest for adults and children. Talk about a buzzkill! We were so let down that we called it a night & went to bed.
*Speaking of activities, there just weren't enough of them, especially at night & especially for adults - the only choices you had were the production shows or comedy, that was it. There also wasn't enough activities that brought people together. On other cruise ships I've got involved in stuff like Quest (where you're in teams & you need to gather items from group members to present to the cruise director in order to earn points) & Majority Rules (also a team-based game where it doesn't matter if there's a wrong answer, you just need to have the same answer as everybody else). Neither of those were played on-board Carnival Legend & it was a bummer. Bingo too was a total let-down, with no fun or atmosphere at all (if anything it was rushed), no rolling jackpot & a passive-aggressive host who laughed too much at her own cruddy jokes. Even karaoke (something I tend to do on cruise ships) was always on either the late afternoon when the early birds would be getting ready for dinner or mid-evening when the late dining took place.

Pool, pool deck
The Serenity adults pool area, the one place where you could've escaped children....

Pool, pool deck

water slides
.....except the waterslides & children's water park was right above it.
*Speaking of the dining room, whilst our wait staff were quite good, the food was rather hit & miss at times & wasn't always hot either. I understand that volumes are high at times, but lukewarm food doesn't exactly make for a great meal. Also, there were some strange food combinations - I had an entrée that looked & tasted akin to tinned cat food one night.
*A distinct lack of drinks staff in the casino. There was only 1 person coming around to take drink orders & most times he was run off his feet....he did, however, do his best to make me & my folks feel special, especially when making what has to be my favourite cruise cocktail ever, Kiss on the Lips. Mango, peach & grenadine; come at me!

cocktails, drinking


THE UGLY
*The decor of the ship, which is in dire need of an overhaul. My Mum described it as "Neptune's nymphs vs Greek goddesses vs Roman gladiators vs Ali Baba & his 40 thieves...and the lions won". Whoever did the interior design on the ship was totally smoking crack! Also, the overall dark & dingy atmosphere of the ship (lots of brown & dark wood everywhere) led to some spaces feeling cavernous or church-like.

dining
Is it just me, or does this remind you of church windows or Playschool?

carnival legend

carnival legend

*I also can't talk decor without mentioning the ugly 1960's green hand basin inside our cabin (and, from what I heard, everybody else's)....

carnival legend

*Also worth a mention is the artwork inside the elevators. Some of it was borderline pornographic & would surely have had children (of which there were many on-board as it was Australian school holidays at the time) asking their parents about why those people were hugging each other practically naked & why is that man tugging that other man's bag handle & why is the other man only wearing an orange cloth to cover his bits....

art

art


*Speaking of children....Carnival Australia made the *sarcasm* oh-so-wise */sarcasm* decision to close Camp Carnival (aka kids club) a month before we set sail, thus meaning that it was closed for our cruise....and not everyone was informed about it. This pretty much led to children running amok everywhere throughout the ship, including the casino, which was (unfortunately) contained mid-ship & was a major thoroughfare through to the on-board theatre. It also led to near collisions with elderly passengers, kids being told by their parents that it was ok to go & order drinks from the bar (erm, no it's not considering bars are adults only areas!) & mothers playing the pokies/slot machines with their babies/toddlers asleep in the pram next to them. Rules & regulations appeared to be lax on our trip.
*The cleaning standards on-board Carnival Legend for our cruise were very sub-par, if that. Just as an example - in the Unicorn Café (aka the buffet), carpeted floors are only swept, not vacuummed, as I witnessed several times during those 17 nights...which led to me discovering a chunk of diet Swiss carrot cake still on the floor at breakfast one morning. How was I able to correctly identify the object? Because I'd been at the buffet for dinner the night before & had seen it. So much for hygiene practices. I even took a photo of it just to prove to you how bad things were:

carnival legend

*There was also a real lack of general information about things on-board. For example, we were told just 24 hours before embarkation that this cruise was going to be operating with Australian dollars and not US dollars as both my parents & I thought. Unfortunately for us, we missed the memo & it was bad luck as Carnival Legend didn't have an currency exchange on-board. Unlike other cruises I've been on, special offers on port days for the spa weren't mentioned in the daily "Fun Times" (aka the pamphlet you get every day to let you know what's happening on-board), which meant you had to go & enquire yourself. Not even the fact that we were crossing the International Date Line & also going forward another hour at the same time was mentioned, which led to confusion on our part.
*And lastly, Carnival Australia are total rip-off merchants. Between $10AUD minimum bets on the gaming tables in the casino (erm, hello Carnival Australia, you're not the Star or Crown casino!) & the internet packages being grossly overpriced (if you wanted the works - i.e. emails, social media AND Skype - for the entire cruise, you had to cough up a tidy sum of about $660AUD for the privilege. Even just to access emails & social media for 1 day was $30AUD!), is it any wonder that my folks & I avoided those areas for the most part? The internet area was also situated in a very public place (i.e. near one of the lounges where trivia tended to be on) without any barriers for privacy. People could and (possibly) did read other people's emails/Facebook/banking details from over their shoulder! Aaaaand to top off this rant, my Mum's credit card got charged twice once we got back - once in Australian dollars & then a 2nd payment in US dollars, thus leaving the card overdrawn. Thankfully the 2nd charge was removed, but it just goes to show how much of a clusterfuck Carnival Australia are.

carnival legend

Congratulations if you're reading this sentence, you deserve a medal!

Needless to say, our experience on-board Carnival Legend was eye-opening, boring (I slept, mooched around a lot & re-gained the 3-4 kgs I'd lost in my travels) & one I'll never forget, for all the wrong reasons. Unless you fancy being on-board a floating child care centre, twiddling your thumbs & losing a lot of $ in the process, then Carnival is one cruise line you ought to avoid!

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Have you ever been on a cruise before? If so, would you like to go? Which company would you consider sailing with? (I could give a recommendation or 2, if you need it.)

14 comments:

  1. Oh dear! Better not let my husband see this post. I'm trying to talk him into a cruise and this sounds like a nightmare. Thanks for letting us know what to avoid!

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    1. It wasn't the best, let's just say that. ;o) There's better cruise lines out there & better ships (P&O have certainly improved their reputation since the first time I ever went on them, back in the 90's), it's just a case of trying it out for yourself really. Keep talking hubby into cruising, it's a great way to holiday!

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  2. I've never been on a cruise, but it's something I'd like to do...just not on the Carnival, lol! Sounded more like a circus, for all the wrong reasons!!

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  3. What an engaging and entertaining blog and yes, I read it all! My last and only cruise was as a 17 yo in the late 1970's!
    So many of my 50+ friends and family are doing cruises multiple times) and my husbands never been keen - this puts it in a different light to those shown on the tv travel shows - definitely need to research the different cruises and liners on offer.

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    1. Oh thank you Karen, I'm glad to hear that!

      I think overall the cruise market is growing in Australia (I heard on a previous cruise that we're 2nd to Brazil in terms of who's the fastest growing cruise market) & having been on several, you do get a diverse range of ages & family situations etc. It's not for everyone though & you don't always get a good mix of people - it also depends a lot on the cruise environment too. Yep, I highly recommend doing some research about cruise lines as they're not as equal as you might think!

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  4. What a pity it wasn't a better experience! It definitely needs a renovation judging from your photos!

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    1. I heard that the Legend is being renovated in 2018...can't come fast enough as far as I'm concerned!

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  5. You made me laugh out loud with your posts! I feel your pain on the trouble with the ship, but I loved your story!

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    1. Glad I make/made you laugh Lubna!

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  6. we are doing the same trip in April this year and now I have read your post I kind of not look forward to it.

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    1. Oh gosh I didn't mean to turn you off your trip! Just remember that this was purely my own experience, other people on my cruise enjoyed their time on-board & yours will be different hopefully - I hope you still have a good time regardless. If not, then it'll certainly be a relaxing one! Just make sure you load up the tablet/Kindle (if you have one) with books/stuff to do.

      As far as the ports go, Nouméa should be warmer in April, speaking from experience. Moorea & Bora Bora will also still be nice too.

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  7. Really entertaining, had heard Carnival weren't as good as they used to be. Thanks a lot.

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    1. I hadn't taken a Carnival cruise prior to that one, so I had no idea of what they were like previously. However, having cruised before I did have some expectation of what a cruise SHOULD be like & this one was far from satisfactory. Thanks for reading!

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