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Cruise Ship Review

Carnival Legend - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

Carnival Legend is the third ship in the Spirit class, which introduced some significant firsts for Carnival: alternative restaurants and onboard wedding chapels. Spirit-class ships also offer an impressive 80 percent ratio of outside cabins, as well as lots of nice little touches -- like museum-quality artwork and "designer" martinis.

The central theme onboard Carnival Legend is, aptly, great legends of the world. The theme is carried out throughout Carnival Legend's 12 passenger decks, 16 lounges, and indoor and outdoor promenades. The "Fun Ship" has it all including a nine-deck-high atrium, an onboard golf program, a duty-free shopping mall, a video arcade and an 1,800-square-ft. children's play area.

At 88,500 tons and carrying 2,124 passengers, Carnival Legend is just skirting the high side of mid-sized -- large enough, but not particularly crowded; we found it quite easy to find our way soon after boarding.

Dining

Carnival Legend features three restaurants. An expansive poolside eatery features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and a 24-hour pizzeria. The full-service restaurant is a two-level 1,250-seat dining room with extensive menus and wine lists. There's also an intimate steakhouse-style supper club offering prime aged beef.

Beginning on June 29, 2008, Carnival Legend will become the first ship in the Carnival fleet to test out flexible dining in the main restaurant. Guests can choose traditional main or late seating dining, or opt for the flexible choice and eat anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. Carnival has not yet announced an end date for the trial.

Public Rooms

Carnival Legend offers 16 lounges and bars with a variety of themes to fit any mood or taste. As you enter the ship, you are greeted by the bar in the nine-deck-high Colossus Atrium, which is dominated by a towering mural of the Colossus of Rhodes. Popular for pre-dinner cocktails, the Odyssey and Atlantis lounges offer quiet, intimate venues with live music and the same Greek neoclassical design elements found in the atrium. Club Merlin Casino, the medieval-themed gaming area has a castle-like atmosphere complete with a suit of armor standing sentinel at the bar and shields bearing crossed swords and a knight's helmet mounted on the walls.

Cabins

Eighty percent of the cabins are outside; 80 percent of those staterooms have private balconies. It is interesting to note that inside cabins measure the same 185 square ft. as outsides without verandahs. Balcony cabins increase to 225 square ft., including the verandah. There are 58 suites in three categories starting at 360 ft. and going up to 465 square ft. (including a wraparound terrace). All staterooms and suites are tastefully furnished with twin beds that convert to a queen, large closets, plenty of drawer space, televisions and refrigerators, plus the usual amenities found on new vessels (telephones, private safes, and a shower or shower and tub depending on category). Suites include separate dressing and sitting areas, refrigerators, double sinks, bathtubs as well as showers, and large balconies. Good design and soft lighting add to a feeling of spaciousness in interior staterooms; Category 5 staterooms are outside and have French doors that open, but views are obstructed.

Entertainment

Catch one of two original productions created especially for Carnival Legend in Follies, the main show lounge on Promenade Deck. Recalling the days of the magnificent movie houses of the 1920's, Follies evokes the feeling of an open courtyard in a Mediterranean villa. Arches, turrets and stained-glass chandeliers create an opulent, expansive space while providing excellent sightlines.

Satchmo's Club is a great place to unwind with some soft dance music. Named after legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the club is decorated to resemble an old New Orleans bar with exposed brick, wrought-iron details, ceiling fans, cafe curtains and a false skylight. Adorning the walls are black and white photos of Armstrong at different stages of his career. Next door, the Dream Team bar offers overstuffed sofas and comfortable bar stools -- the perfect vantage points to quaff a brew and catch up on the latest sporting events.

Billie's piano bar is an intimate, art deco club where the piano player is the center of attention and everybody is a crooner. A stylish tribute to blues singer Billie Holiday, the centerpiece of the room is the stainless-steel musical bar lined with notes and a faux 1930's-era oversized microphone decorates each table.

Late-night comedy acts appear in the Firebird Lounge, taking its theme from the old Russian folktale of a talented seamstress from a small village who is turned into a bird by an evil sorcerer; the Firebird is decorated with replica hand-painted Russian lacquered boxes, accented by lamps with frosted glass globes painted on the inside to create a soft glow.

Don't let the giant (three and a half feet high!) Medusa heads with strands of snake-like hair capped with a snake's head with lighted eyes keep you out of the rocking Medusa's Lair dance club. The wall of closed-circuit televisions flashes images from the dance floor mixed with videos and special effects, while the sound system plays the latest dance music -- and a sophisticated light system makes the Medusa heads appear to move and change expression.

Fitness and Recreation

The Fountain of Youth Spa, the 14,500-square-ft. two-level health center encompasses the forward area of the Lido and Sun Decks, providing ocean views to exercisers. The gym is equipped with stationary bicycles, treadmills, and rowing and stair-climbing machines, as well as free weights and dumbbells. Adjacent to the workout area is a mirrored aerobics room, used especially for a series of exercise classes including low- and high-impact aerobics, yoga, spinning, and stretching and relaxation sessions; some of these classes have an additional fee per person so check prior to sign-up. The Steiner-operated spa offers a variety of treatments including aroma stone therapy, full body and scalp massages, seaweed wraps, mudpacks, and various slimming and toning therapies. Also housed within the spa are 10 private treatment/massage rooms, complete locker facilities, sauna and steam rooms, and a full-service beauty salon.

The ship features four swimming pools and four whirlpools -- one available in the spa itself and three others on Lido Deck -- as well as a padded jogging track encircling Deck 11. During the day, the Avalon Bar, located mid-ship, serves a variety of frothy, tropical concoctions. Corresponding to the theme are statues of a medieval castle at the Camelot Pool, an armored knight at the Avalon Pool and the figure of the mythological horned horse at the aft Unicorn Pool. Camelot Pool has a retractable domed ceiling for inclement weather.

Family

Camp Carnival is centered on a 2,400-square-ft. enclosed play area on Deck 5, away from adult activities. The Fun House is headquarters to a supervised program, divided by age groups, offering children's activities for ages 2 to 15 with a bottom of the sea theme. Three areas are connected by tunnels: one area for crafts, a second one for computer games and a third one for games. A video wall displays movies and cartoons. One deck below is an arcade with both virtual-reality and video games. An outdoor play area offers mini-basketball, jungle gyms and other playground equipment. A children's wading pool and a corkscrew water slide are also available for fun at sea. Teenagers had overnight slumber parties among their menu of activities. Carnival offers a Fountain Fun card, good for unlimited soft drinks during a one-week voyage. Group baby-sitting is available from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. at the Fun House ($6 for the first child and $4 for each additional sibling).

Fellow Passengers

A broad crisscross of (mostly) middle America; according to Carnival, 30 percent of its passengers are under the age of 35, 40 percent are between 35 and 55, and 30 percent are over 55.

Dress Code

A one week cruise features two formal evenings. Most men opt for jackets and ties, but a large number wear tuxedos. Resort casual attire is suggested for the rest of the evenings.

Gratuity

Carnival recommends $10 per person, per day, broken down to $5.50 to the headwaiter/waiter, $1 to the assistant waiter/cooks and $3.50 to the cabin steward; the amount is automatically added to your shipboard account but can be adjusted in either direction at the purser's desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. An envelope is provided on the last night for those who want to extend thanks to the maitre d'; the room service menu suggests tipping -- a buck or two -- as it's delivered.

Dining

Carnival Legend features three restaurants. An expansive poolside eatery features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and a 24-hour pizzeria. The full-service restaurant, Truffles, is a two-level 1,250-seat dining room with extensive menus and wine lists. There's also an intimate steakhouse-style supper club offering prime aged beef. The surcharge to eat there is $25 per person.

In early 2008, Carnival Legend became the first ship in the Carnival fleet to test out flexible dining in the main restaurant. Passengers can can choose traditional main or late seating dining, or opt for the flexible choice and eat anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Dining

Carnival Legend features three restaurants. An expansive poolside eatery features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and a 24-hour pizzeria. The full-service restaurant is a two-level 1,250-seat dining room with extensive menus and wine lists. There's also an intimate steakhouse-style supper club offering prime aged beef.

Beginning on June 29, 2008, Carnival Legend will become the first ship in the Carnival fleet to test out flexible dining in the main restaurant. Guests can choose traditional main or late seating dining, or opt for the flexible choice and eat anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. Carnival has not yet announced an end date for the trial.Carnival Legend is the third ship in the Spirit class, which introduced some significant firsts for Carnival: alternative restaurants and onboard wedding chapels. Spirit-class ships also offer an impressive 80 percent ratio of outside cabins, as well as lots of nice little touches -- like museum-quality artwork and "designer" martinis.

The central theme onboard Carnival Legend is, aptly, great legends of the world. The theme is carried out throughout Carnival Legend's 12 passenger decks, 16 lounges, and indoor and outdoor promenades. The "Fun Ship" has it all including a nine-deck-high atrium, an onboard golf program, a duty-free shopping mall, a video arcade and an 1,800-square-ft. children's play area.

At 88,500 tons and carrying 2,124 passengers, Carnival Legend is just skirting the high side of mid-sized -- large enough, but not particularly crowded; we found it quite easy to find our way soon after boarding.

Dining

Carnival Legend features three restaurants. An expansive poolside eatery features breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and a 24-hour pizzeria. The full-service restaurant, Truffles, is a two-level 1,250-seat dining room with extensive menus and wine lists. There's also an intimate steakhouse-style supper club offering prime aged beef. The surcharge to eat there is $25 per person.

In early 2008, Carnival Legend became the first ship in the Carnival fleet to test out flexible dining in the main restaurant. Passengers can can choose traditional main or late seating dining, or opt for the flexible choice and eat anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Also available on all of Carnival's ships is The Chef's Table dining experience, which affords a dozen passengers a multicourse dinner with a master chef, a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley and its operations. This dining option usually takes place in a nontraditional venue, such as the galley or library, and it can be booked onboard at the information desk for a per-person cost of $75.

Gratuity

Carnival recommends $11.50 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. An envelope is provided on the last night for those who want to extend thanks to the maitre d'.

Gratuity

Carnival recommends $11.50 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff.

Carnival Legend is the third ship in the Spirit Class, which introduced some significant firsts for Carnival, including alternative restaurants and onboard wedding chapels. Spirit-class ships also offer an impressive 80 percent ratio of outside cabins, as well as lots of nice little touches like museum-quality artwork and 'designer' martinis.

In early 2014, the ship underwent a $47 million refurbishment in readiness for its debut into the Australian market.

In a nutshell, the major renovation added the Australian-only Green Thunder slide, Splashdown children's waterslides and drenching bucket, Serenity Retreat for adults, Bonsai Sushi restaurant, RedFrog Pub and new Aussie beers (including the specially-crafted Thirsty Frog Summer Ale) and the Cherry on Top candy store. Australian power outlets were added in staterooms and Australian coin poker machines (slot machines) put in the casino. Other areas that were refurbished included the fitness centre and several of the public areas. New menus were added to the main restaurant and the specialty Nouveau restaurant.

On the entertainment side, Carnival Legend has introduced Playlist Production music shows to an Australian audience for the first time (think Motown and Epic Rock shows), as well as new family entertainment that includes 'Seuss at Sea' and 'Hasbro, the Game Show'.

Although refreshed, the decor of the main public areas remains unchanged, and the central theme onboard Carnival Legend -- great legends of the world -- is carried throughout the ship's 12 passenger decks, 16 lounges, and indoor and outdoor promenades. Many Australians not used to the glitz and neon of Carnival Cruise Lines' ships are likely to find the 'legends' and the Grecian urn motif a bit much, not to mention the huge painting of Colossus straddling the central atrium area (rather than Rhodes).

At 88,500 tons and carrying 2,124 passengers (2,680 at full capacity), Carnival Legend just skirts the high side of mid-sized -- large enough, but not particularly crowded. We found it quite easy to find our way soon after boarding. Its new passenger base will appreciate the 'Fun Ship' touches, such as an onboard golf program, duty-free shopping mall, video arcade, 1,800-square-foot (167.23-square-metre) children's play area and 'Green Thunder' -- as of 2014, the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea.

Dining

The new-look Carnival Legend features several restaurants and a couple of new dining concepts. The buffet restaurant, Unicorn Cafe, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also serves free 24-hour pizza and ice cream. Meal choices at breakfast include bacon, pancakes and a variety of eggs. Lunch and dinner choices include pies, cold meats, beef stroganoff, Asian noddles, roast of the day, curries and deli sandwiches.

The full-service restaurant, Truffles, is a two-level 1,250-seat dining room with extensive three-course menus and wine lists. Passengers can dine at set meal times (the 'traditional' early seating or a late seating) or opt for open dining and then eat anytime between 5:30pm and 9:30pm. New for Truffles will be the 'A Taste of Nouveau' experience, where diners can sample dishes normally served in the fine-dining steakhouse restaurant, Nouveau. The choices, such as lobster and filet mignon, will be an extra $20 each. Dinner menus consist of a daily menu and an everyday menu, the latter featuring dishes that can be ordered any time during the cruise. These items include Caesar salad, grilled salmon and Guinness mince, and mushroom and cheese pie. Daily menus may feature fire-roasted chicken in sesame sauce, Chinese broccoli and crispy pork, steamed mussels in white wine sauce, and creme caramel for dessert.

The fine-dining steakhouse, formerly called Golden Fleece, has been renamed Nouveau Restaurant. Situated on the top deck and accessed via an elevator or jaw-dropping glass staircase, it serves prime aged beef, lobster dishes, surf and turf (lobster tail and filet mignon), lobster ravioli, and cheesecake and hazelnut biscuits for dessert.

The surcharge to eat there is $40 per person.

A new concept called the Long Lunch at Sea will take place in the Nouveau restaurant on sea days. A three-course lunch at $30 a head, it features dishes like grilled cold-water lobster tail and blue-crab salad, while a fresh seafood platter can be enjoyed for another $20 a head. A selection of wines to pair with the dishes will cost an extra $20 per person.

A completely new experience and restaurant is Bonsai Sushi on Deck 2. Passengers can sit at the bar or at tables for two and four and choose from a menu featuring sushi rolls, sashimi, bento boxes (or larger sushi/sashimi meals for two, called shiploads), along with miso soup, Japanese desserts and sake. Items are priced from as little as $1 apiece.

Also available on all of Carnival's ships is the Chef's Table dining experience, which affords a dozen passengers an eight-course dinner with a master chef, a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley and its operations. This dining option usually takes place in a non-traditional venue, such as the galley or library, and it can be booked onboard at the information desk for a per-person cost of $75. It happens twice on most cruises, or according to passenger demand.

Carnival Legend also features the Taste Bar, located on Deck 2, just outside the RedFrog Pub. There, two chefs make and serve complimentary delectable little morsels, which will also be on offer in the main Truffles restaurant that night. It's fresh, it goes perfectly with a couple of drinks at the pub, and it's free.

Also on Deck 2, just near the pub, is Legends café, offering espresso coffees (flat whites, long blacks, short blacks and cappuccinos that Aussies love), cakes and pastries at extra cost. Australians, who are coffee fanatics, will be pleased to hear that baristas hail from the Australian Coffee School.

For those who want to dine in, the ship offers 24-hour room service, with dishes priced individually from about $3 for breakfast items (such as fruit and cereal), $4 for breakfast breads and pastries, $4 for soups and salads, and about $7 for pizza, sandwiches, pies and chicken wraps. It's a limited menu.

Public Rooms

Carnival Legend offers 16 lounges and bars with a variety of themes to fit any mood or taste, and most public areas have been refreshed with new carpets and furnishings. As you enter the ship, you are greeted by the bar in the nine-deck-high Colossus Atrium, which is dominated by a towering mural of the Colossus of Rhodes. Popular for pre-dinner cocktails, the Odyssey and Atlantis lounges offer quiet, intimate venues with live music and the same Greek neoclassical design elements found in the atrium.

Club Merlin Casino, the medieval-themed gaming area has a castle-like atmosphere complete with a suit of armour standing sentinel at the bar and shields bearing crossed swords and a knight's helmet mounted on the walls.

The newly-installed RedFrog Pub is a combination of Caribbean bar and Irish bar, and apart from its beers (including a new Aussie beer), it offers pool tables and foosball (or table football).

Decks 2 and 3 contain many of the public areas. The passenger services and shore excursions desks are on Deck 2, just off the Legends Lobby. In fact, you could spend the entire night on this deck walking all the way from Truffles restaurant at the stern of the ship to the Follies show lounge at the bow and passing by (or through) various bars, the pub and the casino on the way. Deck 2 is also where you'll find the Legends Cafe and a small card room.

Deck 3 contains the top levels of Truffles and Follies, along with various bars, the commanding Colossus Atrium, the photo gallery, a row of shops and the combined Holmes Library and Internet room. Tucked away next door to the library is a little chapel, where vow renewal ceremonies take place.

Cabins

There are 1,062 staterooms, of which 80 percent are outside staterooms; 80 percent of those have private balconies (which may also be referred to as verandahs). It's interesting to note that inside cabins measure the same 185 square feet (17.19 square metres) as outsides without verandahs. Balcony cabins increase to 225 square feet (20.0 square metres), including the verandahs. Balconies are each big enough to hold two chairs and a small table, with room to spare. All staterooms and suites are tastefully furnished with twin beds that convert to queens, large closets, plenty of drawer space, flat-screen televisions and refrigerators, telephones, private safes, and a shower or shower/tub combo depending on category).

Good design and soft lighting add to a feeling of spaciousness in interior staterooms. There are also 64 ocean view staterooms with French doors that open, but views are obstructed. Of interest to families are the 53 sets (106 staterooms in total) of interconnecting cabins; 25 sets were added in the renovation. There are 17 wheelchair-access staterooms.

Bathrooms in all categories except suites have liquid soap and shampoo/conditioner dispensers inside the shower units. Bathrooms in all accommodations, apart from suites, have shower curtains. Suite shower stalls are equipped with glass enclosures.

There are 50 suites, including eight Grand suites and 10 Vista suites; the vista suites have partial wraparound balconies. Both Grand and Vista suites are located aft, overlooking the wake. Sizes of suites (all suites) range from 360 square feet (33.45 square metres) to around 465 square feet (42.20 square metres) including the balconies.

Suites include separate dressing and sitting areas, refrigerators, double sinks, spa bathtubs (i.e. whirlpools) in addition to showers, and large balconies each big enough for two tables, two sun loungers and one or two sitting chairs, depending on passenger requirements. Extra services for suite passengers are priority embarkation and disembarkation, along with large staterooms that offer sitting areas and walk-in wardrobes.

Entertainment

Catch one of two new original productions created especially for Carnival Legend in Follies, the two-level main show lounge on Decks 2 and 3. Recalling the days of the magnificent movie houses of the 1920s, Follies evokes the feeling of an open courtyard in a Mediterranean villa. Arches, turrets and stained-glass chandeliers create an opulent, expansive space while providing excellent sightlines.

Carnival Legend has introduced a range of shows from Playlist Productions, which specialises in taking tunes that everyone knows, putting them on stage and transforming them into full-blown musical productions. The collection of productions includes 'Epic Rock', featuring songs from the glam bands of the 1970s and 80s like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, as well as big arena rock performers like Bon Jovi. Other shows in the Playlist collection are 'Motor City' (Motown hits), 'The Brits' (songs from British Invasion bands like The Beatles, The Who and Herman's Hermits) and 'Heart & Soul' (rhythm and blues favourites).

The new family entertainment, 'Hasbro, the Game Show', will be held in Follies.

Satchmo's Club is a great place to unwind with some soft dance music. Named after legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the club is decorated to resemble an old New Orleans bar with exposed brick, wrought-iron details, ceiling fans, cafe curtains and a false skylight. Adorning the walls are black and white photos of Armstrong at different stages of his career. Next door, the Dream Team bar offers overstuffed sofas and comfortable bar stools -- the perfect vantage points to quaff a brew and catch up on the latest sporting events.

Billie's Piano Bar is an intimate art deco club, where the piano player is the centre of attention and everybody is a crooner. A stylish tribute to blues singer Billie Holiday, the centrepiece of the room is the stainless-steel musical bar lined with notes, and a faux 1930s-era oversized microphone decorates each table.

Late-night comedy acts from the Punchliner Comedy Club lineup appear in the Firebird Lounge, a grand salon that takes its theme from the old Russian folktale of a talented seamstress from a small village who is turned into a bird by an evil sorcerer. A striking red- and pink-hued room, Firebird is decorated with replica hand-painted Russian lacquered boxes, accented by lamps with frosted glass globes painted on the inside to create a soft glow.

Don't let the 3.5-foot-high Medusa heads (complete with strands of snake-like hair, capped with snake heads that have lighted eyes) keep you out of the rockin' Medusa's Lair dance club. The wall of closed-circuit televisions flashes images from the dance floor mixed with videos and special effects, while the sound system plays the latest dance music. Meanwhile, a sophisticated light system makes the Medusa heads appear to move and change expression.

Fitness and Recreation

The Fountain of Youth Spa, a 14,500-square-foot (1,347-square-metre) two-level health centre, encompasses the forward area of the Lido and Sun decks, (decks 9 and10), providing ocean views to exercisers. It has been treated to a makeover as part of the $47 million refurbishment. The tiered gym, which was upgraded at a cost of around $450,000, now features the latest cardio equipment, including a top range of treadmills and stair climbers, as well as stationary bicycles and free weights. A great feature of the gym is the chill-out hot tub or whirlpool (often called a spa bath by Australians) in the middle of the room, to ease those aching limbs post work-out.

While most cruise ship fitness centres tend to look the same, Carnival Legend's is an original, tiered like a Roman amphitheatre so you get a view of the ocean from every piece of its state-of-the-art equipment.

Adjacent to the workout area is a mirrored aerobics room, used for a series of exercise classes including low- and high-impact aerobics, yoga, spinning, and stretching and relaxation sessions. Some of these classes have an additional fee per person, so check prior to sign-up.

Shannan Ponton, Australian TV personality and personal trainer on The Biggest Loser, is a new Carnival ambassador. Shannan has devised group fitness classes and do-it-yourself fitness workouts. He will occasionally appear on cruises to lead group fitness lessons, his fitness tips will appear in the daily cruise program, and he has created a few light and healthy snacks that are available in the buffet restaurant.

The Steiner-operated spa offers a variety of treatments, including aroma stone therapy, full-body and scalp massages, seaweed wraps, mudpacks, and various slimming and toning therapies. Also housed within the spa are 10 private treatment/massage rooms, complete locker facilities, saunas and steam rooms, and a full-service beauty salon.

The ship has four swimming pools and four whirlpools -- one in the gym, as mentioned, and the others on Lido Deck -- as well as a padded jogging track encircling Deck 11. During the day, the Avalon Bar, located midship, serves a variety of frothy, tropical concoctions. Corresponding to the theme, there is an armoured knight at the Avalon Pool, statues of a medieval castle at the Camelot Pool and a figure of a mythological horned horse at the aft Unicorn Pool. Camelot Pool has a retractable domed ceiling for use during inclement weather.

The deck area around the Unicorn Pool has been transformed into the adults-only Serenity Retreat, a new enclave created during the 2014 refit. It's furnished with cane sun loungers with blue padded cushions, a series of two-person cone-shaded cane and padded pods and a few hammocks. Those in the know say that a pod and hammock have been hard to come by, and many passengers get up quite early to grab them -- although seat/lounge minding is frowned upon. Serenity is child-free, but it's only a deck away (via a few stairs) from the kids SplashZone on the top deck and is often the place parents go to chill out when their children are at play. There's a bar offering waiter service, and it's only a walk away from the Unicorn Cafe buffet restaurant. Hence, folks like to hang out there all day.

Carnival Legend WaterWorks is the new top-deck area containing the exhilarating Green Thunder waterslide, Carnival's signature Twister waterslide (a much tamer ride) and the little kids' SplashZone. First introduced on Carnival Spirit in October 2012, Green Thunder is billed as the fastest and highest waterslide at sea. The fun begins when the floor of the slide drops away and the rider freefalls for a few seconds before whipping around the curves at speeds up to 40 miles per hour (65 kilometres per hour). The ride itself takes just 10 seconds, but it's a heart-stopping 10 seconds, we're told.

SplashZone features two little purple waterslides that descend into a wading pool and a big dipping bucket that spills water over the kids.

Family

Camp Carnival is centred on a 2,400-square-foot (223-square-metre) enclosed play area on Deck 5, away from adult activities. It serves as headquarters to a supervised program, divided by age groups, offering children's activities for ages 2 to 11 with a 'bottom of the sea' theme. Three areas are connected by tunnels: one area for crafts, a second one for computer games and a third one for games. A video wall displays movies and cartoons. An outdoor play area offers mini-basketball, jungle gyms and other playground equipment. The top deck SplashZone is also suitable for children in this age group.

One deck below is Circle 'C', designed for children from 12 to 14, complete with an attached video game room, which also offers virtual-reality games. Other activities on offer are movies, swim games, sports, scavenger hunts and organised dance parties.

Teens from 15 to 17 have their own hangout space, Club O2, on Deck 10. Complete with a nonalcoholic drinks bar, a dance floor, lazy lounge area and the latest video games, it's the place for teens to have fun and meet new friends.

The Night Owl program offers group child-minding and activities for those aged 12 months to 11 years. It's on every night from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.; late-night munchies and games are on offer, with an extra fee of $8 per hour, per child.

New for Australian cruise kids (and their parents) are the 'Seuss at Sea' program and 'Hasbro, the Game Show'. Dr. Seuss characters, including Cat in the Hat and Red Fish and Blue Fish, will entertain kids at special character parades and during interactive story times. They will also appear at one breakfast during the cruise (usually the first full day at sea), where a special menu of Dr. Seuss foods like green eggs and ham will be served to the little ones.

While 'Hasbro, the Game Show' (based on a TV show called Family Game Night) is not known to your average Australian, it will likely be a hit with families and people who like to participate on stage. The cruise version is a contest between teams to play various board games (think Monopoly, Operation and a basketball challenge called Connect 4 Basketball). Loud and competitive, it will certainly appeal to kids, even if they've never played the board games or seen the TV show.

Fellow Passengers

Before arriving in Australia, Carnival Legend carried a broad cross of (mostly) middle America. According to Carnival, 30 percent of its passengers are younger than 35, 40 percent are between 35 and 55, and 30 percent are older than 55. While cruising in Australia, the ship is expected to carry a similar profile of Australian passengers (as well as a fair contingent of New Zealanders) in the 35-and-older age group. As the ship is based in Australia over the summer, including the six-week Christmas and January school holidays, there will be plenty of families. Cruisers who want to avoid kids should travel between October and mid-December and from February to April (but not Easter).

Dress Code

Carnival has a pretty laid-back dress policy. Most evenings are 'Cruise Casual', where passengers can wear anything from smart jeans (no cut-offs) and dress shorts to trousers and casual skirts or sundresses. As long as you're not wearing swimwear and workout clothes and men don't wear sleeveless T-shirts or tank tops, you won't be turned away.

One or two nights per cruise will be designated 'Cruise Elegant'. Men are requested to wear dress trousers and dress shirts, with jackets optional. If men want to wear suits or tuxedos, then they are free to do so. Suggested attire for women is cocktail dresses or gowns, or dressy trouser suits or skirts. Many people do like to dress to the nines on these cruise elegant occasions and pose for photos while other passengers watch these proceedings in the Atrium Bar.

By day, the dress code is tropical as the ship visits the gorgeous isles of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji (with the occasional foray to New Zealand, where it's a little bit cooler).

Bear in mind that there will also be two themed nights -- Mexican Fiesta and Caribbean Holiday -- so pack some colourful outfits to get into the dress-up groove.

A two- to five-night cruise will have one 'cruise elegant' night. Cruises of six nights or longer will have two.

Gratuity

For Carnival Legend's seven-month seasonal deployment, Carnival has done away with tipping and incorporated gratuities into the cruise fare. The move reflects the fact that Australians resent having tips automatically added to their cruise accounts and question why the cruise line cannot pay their staff adequately. The 15 percent gratuity usually added to bar drinks and wine at dinner has also been scrapped. Australians do tip for service when dining on land, and those who feel they want to tip their cruise staff can still do so at their discretion.

When the ship sails from ports outside Australia, Carnival will no doubt adjust its daily rates. In the past, they have been $11.50 per person, per day, which covers $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 for alternative services (including kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staffmembers). The amounts are automatically added to shipboard accounts, but they can be adjusted in either direction at the front desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff.

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