A Travel and vacations forum. TravelBanter

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » TravelBanter forum » Travelling Style » Cruises
Site Map Home Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Carnival Legen Cruise 3/28, compared to other cruise experiences (NCL)



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old April 9th, 2004, 10:54 AM
Charlie
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Carnival Legen Cruise 3/28, compared to other cruise experiences (NCL)

The first thing I should point out first that my wife and I prefer white
table cloths to McDonalds, bottled wine to bottled beer, and service
consistent with our willingness to pay a premium.



Carnival may not be the best choice for our tastes, but it may fit your
needs. We have cruised four times, once 20 years ago on Carnival, twice in
the last 14 months on Norwegian, and most recently on the Carnival Legend, a
southern Caribbean itinerary that included St Marten, Martinique and
Barbados. I choose the Legend based upon the itinerary and the availability
of a balcony cabin. The cruise price per person was very reasonable, ($699
per person on Carnival for an 8-day cruise, same on Norwegian for 7-day
cruise, but a suite).



I only booked the cruise about 3 weeks in advance and the paperwork arrived
promptly. I recommend that you handle the informational requirements online
as soon as you receive your paperwork as it speeds up the boarding process.



We live in upstate New York, so we flew to Fort Lauderdale a couple of days
in advance of the sailing to enjoy the sunshine. We stayed on the strip in
Lauderdale at the Double Tree Hotel. Keep in mind that the Double Tree is
typically a higher end business class hotel, but units placed in tourist
areas rarely offer the full amenities you may find at their typical
locations. The Double Tree here has seen better days; the restaurant was
palatable, but only opens for breakfast and lunch. There was another
restaurant under the pool area fronting the beach but we choose alternative
restaurants in town. All in all, Fort Lauderdale was interesting, but only
worthy of a couple of days. The night scene (it was during Spring Break),
was also interesting but beyond a couple such as us in our late forties.



Our cruise was scheduled for a Sunday departure. The Carnival paperwork
noted an embarkation time of 2:30 PM for this port but when we arrived at
the port at noon the line extended around the building and they were already
loading people on the ship. Can't blame them for this because the sooner
they get you on, the sooner you will start charging drinks, etc. This was
similar to previous cruises we had taken. They leave themselves some time
leeway but the loading process always seems efficient. From port arrival to
walking on the deck took less than 45 minutes.



One thing we loved with Norwegian was their 'free style' cruising which
allows you to choose when you eat, and if you dine with others at a 'group'
table. Our first Carnival cruise, 20 years previous, gave us assigned
seating and unfortunately the later seating. This part of the cruise agenda
totally turned us off to cruising as we like to eat early and we are not
late night players. We remember trying to change to an earlier sitting, but
essentially being refused.



Our most recent Norwegian cruises were wonderful with multiple restaurant
choices and multiple premium restaurant choices (you pay an added cover
charge for a more intimate dining experience). The charge, depending upon
the cruise line can be from $15 to $25 per person. One of the reasons I
booked Carnival this trip was their new offering of a premium restaurant
choice, they call it their 'Supper Club'. As soon as we could, we made a
reservation for all cruise nights except one.



They tell you when you board that your room may not be available until 1:30
PM but ours was available earlier. Our luggage also arrived promptly,
allowing us some time to get acquainted with the room. We had a hall-end
room, with a cabin on one side but not on the other. The room spacing was
more than comfortable with a balcony with one lounger type chair, one
standard plastic chair and a small table. This room was better than the
first Norwegian ship we were on, which was an outside cabin, but had no
balcony. The second Norwegian cruise had a balcony, and was also a
mini-suite. This Carnival room was similar to the Norwegian mini-suite,
except the Norwegian room had a full bathroom (tub and separate sink area,
instead of just a shower stall).



The steward service on both lines was wonderful. The rooms were made
promptly, towels were always exchanged, and the amenity items such as
shampoo, etc., were always stocked. My wife made some special requests, like
an additional change of deck towels, and wine glasses for the bottles of
wine we ordered for the room. The requests were filled promptly. Turn down
at night, on both lines, always included some sort of special character,
made from the towels, and their creativity was commendable. Steward service
on both lines was virtually equal, but I would give a slight edge to
Norwegian as their people were slightly more personable. Carnival also used
that 'heavy knock' on the door to let you know they were ready to service
your room, especially on the last day when the 'heavy knock' came at 7 AM (I
guess that was our hint to get moving as we would be off the ship by 9:30).
Our Norwegian stewards always seemed to be in the vicinity of their room
assignments. Norwegian stewards also seemed to pick up on your personal
timing, even generating small talk as we left or returned from dinner.



Unfortunately we were informed about 5:30 PM the first evening by Carnival
that the premium restaurant would not be open that night as they did not
take enough reservations. Oh well, at least our dinner seating assignment
was the early one (5:45 PM, and printed on your onboard identification
card). The dinner wouldn't be the premium type, but we had noted in the
Carnival literature that they were now more inclined to accommodate those
that preferred alternate seating arrangements. As we entered the restaurant
my wife made a request for a table for two, at which point she was curtly
informed that such requests would have to be made directly to the Matre D.
We decided to bite the bullet and see where we would be placed. We were
seated at a table for three couples, in the middle of the dining room. Only
one of the other couples came that night and we made the typical small talk
that fosters from being placed with people you most likely have nothing in
common with. We ordered a bottle of wine, they of course choose water (soft
drinks and alcoholic beverages always incur a charge and can easily add up
to more than the cost of a cabin over 7-8 days). The entire meal took less
than 45 minutes and the experience was just short cafeteria level. There was
no small talk with the wait staff, presentation was lacking, and the food
quality was mediocre.



Although we opted for the premium restaurants on the Norwegian cruises, we
did use their main dining restaurants a couple of times. We were offered a
table for two, or the option of sitting with others. We choose the table for
two intimacy, and were very satisfied both times. The presentation was
professional, the food was palatable, and we did not feel rushed at all. The
staff also exhibited personality. I should also note that Norwegian did not
close down their premium restaurants but accommodated the few that did make
reservations the first night of the cruise. Despite 27 foot waves (the
weather was rough for that particular cruise out of New York) we were able
to enjoy a full level of service on night one, and through the entire
cruise.



The Carnival itinerary we choose gave us two days at sea on the way to the
islands and an additional two days at sea on the way back. Sitting on deck,
going to any exotic location when you are escaping the cold of the Northeast
is always enjoyable. In this respect Carnival and Norwegian provided plenty
of locations to relax, chairs/lounges were comfortable, and there were
always waiters to service your refreshment needs. We did find the drinks on
the Norwegian had a little more kick to them. Norwegian also offered chairs
on a lower deck which afforded a few of the ocean through an open rail
barrier. On both lines, the upper decks had a Plexiglas barrier which
inhibited the water view somewhat. Not a big deal and the feature was there
for passenger safety.



The other thing we did notice on our days at sea was that Norwegian rarely
closed any venue down. While at sea, you could choose any of the lounges to
enjoy company or a drink as they were all operational. Carnival had 2 or 3
lounges that only opened only at night, even though the lounge number was
equivalent ship to ship.



The second evening we dined in the Carnival Fleece (premium) restaurant. The
service, the food preparation and presentation, were wonderful. We found the
multiple servers and wine steward to be among the best we have experienced.
The food quality and preparation was superior to the Norwegian, but
Norwegian should be given the edge as their wait staff was slightly more
conversant and personable. There was more of a language barrier on Carnival;
the Norwegian attendants were more fluent in English. We would highly
recommend that others make the premium restaurant choice on either of these
cruise lines. Norwegian also provides multiple premium choices (IE:
steakhouse, oriental cuisine, etc.).



I will not detail our onshore activity here as they are usually contracted
services and can vary from port-to-port. We rented a jeep in one location,
did some downtown shopping in another, and did one of those catamaran type
sailing excursions in another (always a good choice). In Barbados we also
enjoyed one of their special restaurants, Pisces, which we would do again if
we return to Barbados.



My wife needs her beauty sleep so she enjoys room delivery (no additional
charge) of coffee and light breakfast items. When we did this on Norwegian,
we would receive a confirming call that they were bringing your room
service. This was a nice touch as you could at least throw a brush through
your hair or otherwise be semi-presentable when answering the door. You
would fill out the typical room service card and request a specific time of
delivery. Norwegian seemed to always be within 5 minutes of the requested
time. On Carnival they did not call beforehand, and although given a half
hour window of delivery they missed that window more than half the time.
Although we did not avail ourselves of any other room service dining period,
we did note that the Carnival room service menu for lunch/dinner items was
very limited. Norwegian, virtually matched the dining room offerings.



On the last night we ordered coffee for the morning. It was supposed to be
delivered between 6:30 and 7:00. At 7:15 I noted the message light on the
phone. The message, noted as being left at 6:56 AM (we were both up and
never heard it ring/buzz), said they were running 45 minutes behind and that
if we still wanted the room service we should call back. I did, but they
never delivered (we were in the room until 8:50 AM). I had the feeling they
just didn't want to do room service on the final morning. If this was the
case, they should just have said so, or noted that room service was not
possible on the final morning of the cruise.



We choose to eat in the main dining room for breakfast on two occasions, and
of course, we were grouped with others, once with two other couples at a
table for six, and the next time with another couple in a booth. The first
time, the food was good. I choose multiple menu items, including eggs
benedict. It was prepared in the typical fashion with two English muffins,
etc. Although not outstanding it was a pleasurable breakfast, including the
company in both cases.



The second morning, we entered the main dining room only 1 half hour before
they were scheduled to close for the morning. This time the eggs benedict
included only one muffin, all other portions were much smaller and the
plates were being removed almost before we were finished.



We also tried the main dining room for one of our lunches just to be sure we
were giving the experience a fair chance. It was 12:07 and we were led to a
long table that already had 10 people sitting at it. I looked at the menu,
wherein I could not find a choice to suit my appetite (I think it was Indian
theme day or something). With those at the table already being served, and
trays of dishes banging over our heads, and less than two minutes at the
table, my wife read my mind and we were out of there in a flash. The Matre D
was local at that point and he questioned why we chose to leave so quickly,
but we apologized for leaving and just noted we changed our minds and were
heading for the buffet deck.



We went to the Lido deck, where although very crowded with long lines, the
food was of good quality and prepared nicely. Tables were also cleared in a
timely fashion and there was a good choice of tables for the number of
people choosing to eat at this venue.



The next day we opted for a late lunch, and remembering the good experience
on the Lido deck, we returned to this area. Even though we were only half
way through the lunch schedule, most of the serving lines had already been
shut down. This forced more people to fewer serving locations, and hence,
longer lines. We stood in line for about 10 minutes, with no movement. We
then left to find another serving venue and found that the line was much
shorter by the pool service area. We noted through the rest of the trip that
the lines were always shorter here although we did not eat in this area
again.



I believe we were also spoiled by Norwegian with their scheduled
entertainment. On every night, even through the rough water portion of the
cruise, they ran two complete Las Vegas style shows. We have been to Vegas,
multiple times, we have seen shows in New York City and other major cities,
and we were as pleased by Norwegian Cruise Lines Shows as almost anything I
have seen. Each night show was offered at 7:30 and 10 PM. The early show
coincided with our dinner reservation standard of 5 PM (the Carnival did not
serve in any dining room until 5:45 PM and the premium restaurant opened
promptly at 6 PM).



We started to watch one of the shows on Carnival but the music schedule for
that night was not to our liking (Norwegian also had one night where the
genre of music was not our style). The rest of the week, on Carnival,
sometimes one show was scheduled, sometimes two shows. From the show titles
in the ships daily newspaper you could not determine the genre on Carnival.
One Carnival show title was Take II. I asked the purser, and someone else at
the information desk what the genre was and they couldn't tell me.
(Norwegian would state that the genre was Andrew Lloyd Weber music, or 50s /
60s theme, etc., along with a show title). On Carnival, one night the show
consisted of Karaoke from the audience, hosted by the cruise director (a man
with a very entertaining personality). I think I have watched American Idol
for a total of about 10 minutes, imagine my take on this entertainment
offering.



One item that stood out on Carnival was the receipts that you received for
drinks. The Carnival receipts were always totaled at the bottom, including
the cruise standard of 15% gratuity per order. On the first bill we tried to
tip extra and the server told us it was not necessary. On Norwegian they
left an area for an additional tip on each receipt, which left you feeling
that additional was expected. We usually tipped more, and even tried not
tipping extra on a couple of occasions. The return service of those that
were tipped extra was always at a higher level than those that were not.
Norwegian should follow Carnival's lead here, although a couple of extra
dollars on each receipt does not add up to a lot over the extent of the
cruise. It was just an annoyance.



Another positive Carnival feature was the offerings in the gift shops (and
daily trinket specials). We found the pricing on par with shopping at home
with some items being in the class of a bargain. On Norwegian my wife
purchased a watch (economy level) and a piece of jewelry. We considered both
items reasonably priced but not necessarily bargains. On Carnival she
purchased a watch (even though two were returned while we were shopping
because the purchasers said they were defective). Ironically, when we
arrived home the watch had already stopped working, no real problem here as
it only required a $2 Radio Shack battery. It is our guess that the cruise
lines purchase bulk, and that some of the items may not have been the
hottest of sellers in stores, hence the battery expired based upon the
length of time from product assembly to actual sale. Carnival offered logo
tee shirts at 2 for $20, and other Carnival logo items at very reasonable
pricing. They even offered a Carnival carry-on type bag (with wheels) for
$24. On the last day of the cruise we also opted for a couple of
'professional' backdrop style photos for $20 for each 8x10. Earlier in the
cruise they actually offered 8x10 'roving photographer' type photos for only
$11, typical for both cruise lines.



Debarkation was very smooth and took less than an hour. Port ratings as
follows: Boston # 1, Ft Lauderdale 2, and New York 3 or further down the
list (terrible).



The overall performance of the cruise lines on a scale from 1 to 10 based
upon our experience? We used this scale;



1 - Camping for a week in a pup tent, with rain the whole week

3 - Roadside sleep cheap on major US Interstate highway with trucks engines
running outside all night

5 - Standard economy business class hotel, with breakfast buffet

7 - Upper level business class hotel with full service amenities

9 - 5-star luxury service in all respects

10 - Incomparable adventure, book your next before you get off the boat



Summer 2004, Norwegian Majesty, Boston-Bermuda-Boston; 9



Fall 2003, Norwegian Dawn, New York, Bahamas, New York; 8



Spring 2004, Carnival Legend, Ft Lauderdale, exotic Caribbean, Ft
Lauderdale; 6



Please enjoy whatever venue or line you choose. Carnival offers more
bargains, and draws the first time cruiser. They also own Princess, Cunard,
Costas, Holland America, Yachts of Seaborne and Windstar. I understand that
Princess line is more like Norwegian. We may try a Princess cruise but most
likely will avoid Carnival. Cruisers talk, and I heard interesting things
relating Royal Caribbean experiences. We even docked next to their ships,
and they were all impressive. As of yet I don't have enough to foster an
opinion (we will try them someday). I'll be checking Norwegian for another
cruise this summer.








  #2  
Old April 9th, 2004, 05:40 PM
Lee
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Carnival Legen Cruise 3/28, compared to other cruise experiences (NCL)

"Charlie" wrote in message ...

Thanks for your very comprehensive review.

As we entered the restaurant
my wife made a request for a table for two, at which point she was curtly
informed that such requests would have to be made directly to the Matre D.


With a traditional dining cruiseline, such as Carnival, your table has
been assigned well before you board the ship. It's not like at a
restaurant where you state your request at the podium and are led to a
table.

We decided to bite the bullet and see where we would be placed. We were
seated at a table for three couples, in the middle of the dining room. Only
one of the other couples came that night and we made the typical small talk
that fosters from being placed with people you most likely have nothing in
common with.


You never know. For the most part, we've really enjoyed our dining
comapnions. Strangers on that first night perhaps, but by the end of
the cruise you might even be able to consider them friends.

In any event, your TA should have asked your dining preferences and
put in a request for a table for two, if that's what you knew you
wanted.

We ordered a bottle of wine, they of course choose water


What do you mean by "they of course choose water"?

The entire meal took less
than 45 minutes


Wow!!! That's FAST!!!Even on my one Carnival ship it wasn''t that
fast.

Although we opted for the premium restaurants on the Norwegian cruises, we
did use their main dining restaurants a couple of times. We were offered a
table for two, or the option of sitting with others. We choose the table for
two intimacy, and were very satisfied both times.


NCL is freestyle - no assigned tables. So, you're more likely to be
able to get a table for two. Unfair to compare a traditional dining
ship to a freestyle dining ship in regards to your table size, dining
time, etc. Didn't you know before booking a Carnival cruise that the
dining experience would be different than what you experienced on NCL?

We have been to Vegas,
multiple times, we have seen shows in New York City and other major cities,
and we were as pleased by Norwegian Cruise Lines Shows as almost anything I
have seen.


Seriously? NCL shows are broadway caliber? Uh...not in my experience.

One Carnival show title was Take II. I asked the purser, and someone else at
the information desk what the genre was and they couldn't tell me.


Pursers are best at answering questions about conflicts on your ship
board account and that type of thing. For entertainment questions, I'd
ask the entertainment staff (cruise director and assistant cruise
directors).

I tend to sit towards the back and on the aisle of the theater on
cruises, in case I don't like the show...don't want to interrupt
other's enjoyment if I decide to leave before the end. Why do you need
all this info before commiting to a show? Just go...if you aren't
enjoying it, get up and leave. I don't see what the big deal is.

Cruisers talk, and I heard interesting things
relating Royal Caribbean experiences. We even docked next to their ships,
and they were all impressive. As of yet I don't have enough to foster an
opinion (we will try them someday).


I don't think you'll like RCI for the same reasons you didn't like
Carnival. On RCI, you will be assigned a table in the dining room and
dinner will be served at a certain time (not 5:00pm either...boy
that's an early time to eat). You may luck out and get your table for
two, but it isnt guaranteed. Chances are, at some point during your
cruise (breakfast or lunch in the main dining room, dinner in the main
dining room) you'll be sharing a table with strangers. Some of us
might even order a bottle of wine...just like you.

Lee
 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Carnival Expands Short Offerings! Ray Goldenberg Cruises 0 March 26th, 2004 08:35 PM
Cruise Review (lengthy) Carnival Inspiration C. Talbot Cruises 4 February 27th, 2004 05:48 AM
Carnival's 2004 NY Program! Ray Goldenberg Cruises 1 November 28th, 2003 05:38 PM
Carnival Takes Top Honors! Ray Goldenberg Cruises 0 November 13th, 2003 06:12 PM
Press release for CCL Miracle Tom & Linda Cruises 9 September 21st, 2003 11:25 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 03:07 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2024 TravelBanter.
The comments are property of their posters.