Royal Caribbean’s 2,076-passenger Legend of the Seas is calling Brisbane home this summer. We were onboard the 69,000-tonne ship — half the size of Sydney’s Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas — cruising with two kids. Here are our hits and misses for Queensland’s latest cruise ship addition.
Excellent Adventure Ocean kids club
Although there were initial feelings of trepidation leaving our children in the kids’ club, it was reassuring to know they were safely in the hands of experienced Adventure Ocean staff. A higher than usual staff-to-kid ratio resulted in a smoothly run and well-organised program. It was so much fun that our kids devoured their breakfasts so they could be the first ones in line to sign in.
The complimentary Adventure Ocean kids club welcomes kids aged 3 to 11 years old. Kids are grouped into Aquanauts for 3 to 5 year olds, Explorers for 6 to 11 year olds, and Voyagers for kids aged 9 to11.
Kids aged six months to 3 years can be dropped off in the separate Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for US$6 (AU$8.50) per hour during the day and US$8 (AU$11.50) per hour in the night.
Teens aged 12-17 years can hang out at Teen Optix, which is geared up with video consoles, karaoke equipment and exclusive teen nightclub events.
The program is very flexible; kids can join in at any time during the three daily sessions, which operate from 9am-noon, 2pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm (the clubs are closed for meal breaks between sessions).
Each session offers different theme-based activities; kids can enjoy a creepy crawly morning making insect arts and crafts, build foam snowmen and learn about all things arctic in the afternoon, and a disco pajama party in the evening.
Legend of the Seas Family
Impressive main dining room
Glass walls spanning two levels in the Romeo and Juliet dining room provide unobstructed views of the sea. Elegant tables with crisp white linen tablecloths surround the central atrium, where a multi-talented dining room staff not only served excellent meals, but also performed a fantastic farewell song, accompanied by the dining room band.
High quality food was offered from a dynamic daily menu. Dinner appetisers included escargots, lobster bisque, and beef carpaccio. Mains featured snow crab salad, slow-cooked prime rib and lobster tail, all at no additional charge.
A selection of healthy and vegetarian alternatives was provided daily, along with staples from a Classic Menu including Caesar salad, prawn cocktail, and Manhattan strip steak.
Dessert highlights included the Bailey’s creme brulee and baked Alaska.
Legend of the Seas Dining
Attractive all-inclusive drinks packages
Popular with Aussies are the all-inclusive drinks packages available to pre-purchase or buy onboard.
The Select Package cost US$46.02 (AU$65.68) per day, and included unlimited beer, house wines up to US$8 (AU$11.40) per glass value, non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks, and juices.
A Premium Package cost US$57.82 (AU$82.50) per day, and included unlimited beer, premium cocktails (up to $10 value), house wines (up to $8 per glass value), frozen drinks, non-alcoholic cocktails, soft drinks, and juices
The Ultimate Package cost US$69.62 per day, and included unlimited beer, premium cocktails up to US$10 (AU$14) value, premium wines up to US$12 (AU$17) per glass, frozen cocktails, non-alcoholic cocktail, soft drinks, juices, bottled water, sparkling water, fresh-squeezed orange juice, non-alcoholic drinks, premium coffee, and tea.
The Royal Replenish Package, one of the non-alcoholic drinks package available, cost US$5.50 (AU$7.85) per day (17 years and younger), or US$8 (AU$11.40) per day (18+ years) for unlimited soft drinks.
For US$22.42 (AU$32) per day, passengers can have unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, sparkling water, fresh squeezed orange juice, non-alcoholic cocktail, premium tea, and coffee.
As long as there are at least four days left on your cruise, drink packages can be purchased onboard and prices pro-rated for the remaining time. Similarly, if you decide the drink package is not for you, the unused balance can be refunded, provided there are at least four cruise days remaining.
Drink packages are strictly per person and passengers are not permitted to share. If caught sharing, the package is forfeited and all previously consumed drinks charged at individual (non-package) prices.
A drinks package is not for everyone. Passengers need to decide whether a package offers enough value for money. Generally passengers need to average six drinks per day, including port days to break even.
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A wide variety of entertainment and activities
While many free activities appealed to the semi-retired and retired couples onboard, there was something for everyone.
Movie matinees alternated between the new and classics. There were bridge games, scavenger hunts, Pictionary play, napkin-folding demonstrations, cocktail classes, and the amusing belly flop competition poolside. Zumba dance classes and Bingo jackpots were also very popular with cruisers.
The headlining acts included a classical piano concert, a Broadway-style Beatles tribute, a comedian complete with lots of props and inoffensive jokes, and a Jamaican singer with the voice of an angel. A major crowd-pleaser was the aerial performance in the centrum, choreographed to music, with simultaneous song and dance below.
Around the ship, passengers were ballroom dancing to live music, singing along with the piano man, and trying their luck at the popular roulette tables in the casino. Not so popular was the Viking Crown Lounge nightclub, which was empty by 10pm.
Legend of the Seas Entertainment
We were onboard for the 10-night ‘Brunei, Philippines and Taiwan’ cruise, which was one of the ship’s last Asian sojourns before it arrived in Australia. Our cruise featured interesting port stops to Keelung, Taipei (unfortunately missed due to bad weather), Manila, Borocay, Puerto Princesa, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei, and Singapore.
Being one of Royal Caribbean’s smallest ships has its advantages, as the Legend of the Seas was able to manoeuvre into Catilican tender port, and access Borocay’s White Beach, known for it powdery silica sand and clear waters, one of our destination highlights.
Once Legend of the Seas finishes its first summer in Brisbane, the ship will reposition to China, cruising the holiday hotspots including Japan’s Okinawa and South Korea’s Busan, followed by another summer in Brisbane. Brisbane itineraries range from two to 18 nights, with a variety of cruises to the Pacific Islands. Passengers can visit idyllic destinations such as Champagne Bay in Vanuatu, Lifou’s coral reefs in the Loyalty Islands, and the Fijian markets of Lautoka.
Legend of the Seas also cruises to New Zealand and Tropical North Queensland and is ideal for navigating narrow passages around the Great Barrier Reef and Milford Sound.
Legend of the Seas Itineraries
Compared to the excellent food served elsewhere, the buffet at Windjammer’s was just acceptable. Food was lacking in flavour and some occasions dried out on food warmers. The breakfast menu in particular had little variety and became tiring after just a few days at sea.
Dinner was more diverse. The reliable options were the one or two meals that matched the dining room. Some creativity was offered at lunch, including a made-to-order Asian noodle station.
Exceptions were the succulent roasts at the Carvery and the wide selection of desserts.
No self-service laundry
With no self-service laundry onboard, options for washing clothes were limited to either hand washing in the bathroom or using the ship’s laundry service, which charges per item (underwear for example, is US$2.95 [AU$4.20]).
A «Wash and Fold» service was offered from day four of the cruise. Passengers could fill a medium paper bag with essential items such as T-shirts and underwear for US $30 (AU$42.83).
American currency and power outlets
Although home porting in Brisbane, the American dollar is the onboard currency. With a falling Australian dollar, things may not appear as cheap as first thought. It’s best to keep on top of exchange rates when making purchases.
Australians will need to bring US or EU power adapters to plug into the US (110v) or EUR (220v) power outlets.
Service needs polishing
Perhaps it was down to the numerous new contracts onboard, but service was noticeably off. Guest Services were unable to answer some requests, shore excursion staff knew very little of the port destinations, and public areas were not as clean as expected. Cabin stewards and dining room staff, however, were able to maintain a high standard.
Main outdoor pool can get crowded
Although the glass roof in the adults’-only Solarium pool is retractable, it remained closed during the cruise, leaving only one medium-sized outdoor pool. As this was a summertime cruise, sunny days meant overcrowding around the pool area. Whirlpools were quickly occupied, lounge chairs all taken by mid-morning, and the pool water turned a little murky towards the end of the day. Still, it was the only place to find a vibrant and happy atmosphere.
Despite a few misses that can be ironed out, we enjoyed cruising Legend of the Seas. The many free inclusions, including good food, a host of entertainment options and an excellent kids’ club, combined with great itineraries, makes the Legend of the Seas a welcome addition to the Queensland market.
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