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Cruise Ship Review

Legend of the Seas - Ship Review provided by Cruise Critic

You might think that Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas is just like all its other Vision-class siblings. These relatively mid-sized vessels, which also include the recently stretched Enchantment of the Seas, along with Grandeur, Rhapsody and Splendour, share quite a few common features and facilities. Most distinguishing? Along with featuring all the usual amenities -- pools, seven deck high Centrum, cafe bar, elaborate main restaurant and Royal Caribbean's signature circular Viking Crown Lounges -- the Vision-class vessels are also known as the "ships of light" as a result of spectacular sea views afforded by glass canopies and massive floor-to-ceiling windows.

With eye-popping facilities like the rock-climbing wall and a 6,000 ft., 18-hole mini golf course, there's still plenty of good 'ol American pizzazz onboard Legend of the Seas.

But Legend of the Seas was one of the first ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet to claim its own distinction. Back in June 2005, the ship served as the American-based Royal Caribbean's Anglophilian ambassador. Indeed, Legend of the Seas spent several summers sailing cruises from its homeport of Southampton. The ship was (and still is in fact) tweaked for the UK and European market by adding touches such as British branded tea bags (how stereotypical but how true!) and different wine and food menus.

This may be one of the reasons the ship has continued to remain a prominent fixture to European travelers. Even as it trawls the Caribbean, its Santo Domingo-based itineraries are aimed at old world, rather than new world, cruise travelers. And later this year, the ship gets an even more exotic assignment as it joins Rhapsody of the Seas in Asia.

Ultimately, what you'll find on a Legend of the Seas experience is a cruise that blends both cultures and traditions of North Americans, Brits and Europeans for a truly international experience -- wherever you're headed.

Editor's Note: Because we reviewed Legend of the Seas during its U.K. run, all prices quoted are in pounds sterling (go to www.xe.com for actual conversion rates).

Dining

Overall, I've seen quite an increase in quality in Royal Caribbean's cuisine over the years, and this is particularly noticeable in Legend's Romeo and Juliet formal dining room, where a different, prettily designed menu is presented at every meal, featuring offbeat dishes -- including scallop risotto and Thai-style shrimp -- alongside regular "fussy eater" standbys like juicy steaks and roast chicken.

Clearly, Legend also has a chocoholic chef tucked away in its kitchen, if the melt-in-the-mouth quality of the chocolate bread pudding, and warm chocolate cake with pears are anything to go by!

The restaurant is smartly presented, and the two-tier Romeo and Juliet, with its grand staircase, large windows, marbled entrance and spectacular central chandelier is very pretty indeed. Breakfast and lunch are available there as well.

One noticeable omission on this ship is the lack of an alternative restaurant; as its engines are located mid-ship, it's a structural problem. This means that, unlike Enchantment of the Seas, Legend can't be stretched.

There are other options, however. The Windjammer also offers panoramic views on three sides, and its clean white walls, plants and nautical-themed tiled murals give it a jaunty seaside feel.

It is also well designed, with lots of separate food stations to minimize queuing and some coffee bar-style tall counters with high seating, ideal for guests who want a quick snack with a fine sea view thrown in.

Travelers who really hate being confined to a two-seating dining room and don't want to eat buffet-style all the time will find some relief at the Solarium cafe, which serves hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza-style hot meals and cookies until 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. until the early hours.

There is also free, on-tap ice cream, tea and coffee available outside the Windjammer, and -- at a price -- Ben & Jerry's ice cream, specialty coffees and cakes are served at Latte-tudes cafe and ice cream bar.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended) between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Public Rooms

No doubt about it, Legend of the Seas is one of the loveliest of the mass market ships. Those acres of glass really pay off, combined with a cool blue-and-cream decor and lots of pale wood, silver, brass and chrome to create a soothing, elegant environment.

Everywhere you look there's a stylish touch, from the jewel-bright glass fish swimming along the walls to the boutiques of Centrum shopping area to gorgeous inlaid glass panels around the edges of the Champagne Bar. On this ship, even the lavatory doors are etched-glass works of art.

Best watering hole for my money is the Schooner Bar, with its rich wood floor, sail-effect decor and nautical memorabilia. But the "Anchors Aweigh," its walls embellished with pastel Art Deco-style murals depicting scenes from the stylish heyday of liner travel, is also fun.

Legend's "shades of the sea"-themed cream, white, pale blue and turquoise decor is seen to best advantage in the sparkling atrium and the Viking Crown Lounge (which is just delightful in the evening, when its "twinkling star" lights are reflected in its vast panoramic windows).

The color scheme has also been extended to great effect along the ship's outer decks and pool areas.

Cabins

One fact worth noting about Legend of the Seas is that the design allows for larger cabins than were standard on earlier Royal Caribbean ships. All cabins come equipped with TV, telephone, private bath/shower room, safe and hairdryer. Higher-grade cabins and suites also have minibars, and bathtubs as well as showers.

In all, there are 17 grades of accommodation, ranging from three and four-berth family cabins to twin insides, seaview (picture windowed) outsides, balconied staterooms and suites. Top of the range is the Royal Suite, a grand affair with whirlpool bathtub and a baby grand piano (Liberace would have been impressed). I stayed in cabin 8056 -- a Grand Suite (the name is more formal than the cabin, which is just a rung above a junior suite). The interior was roomy, designed in a welcoming red-and-gold color scheme, smart beechwood trim and attractive artwork on the cream walls. And with a triple wardrobe, plenty of drawers and shelves and two cupboards in the bathroom, there was plenty of storage space.

Entertainment

In the evenings, the ship's "That's Entertainment!" Theater provides the usual snazzy, fishnet 'n' feathers production shows interspersed with cabaret slots by comedians, singers, magicians and impressionists. Live or taped music for dancing is provided nightly in the "Anchors Aweigh" and Viking Crown lounges, and rather quieter entertainment is offered in the Schooner Bar, which features a grand piano.

By day, there are quizzes, deck or pool games, treasure hunts, port lectures and beauty demonstrations to keep passengers busy, while those in search of peace can find respite in a well-stocked, honey wood-paneled library and card room on Deck 7.

Fitness and Recreation

There's just no excuse not to get fit on this ship because -- even if the British weather's too dodgy to enjoy a dip in Deck 9's outdoor pool -- you just need to head aft and plunge into the marble-edged one in the Solarium, which has a sliding glass roof to keep any rain out and all the heat in, as well as loungers, a bustling cafe and stunning Roman-themed design.

To the rear of the Solarium pool (one deck down from the "Legend of the Links" miniature golf course and the ship's rock climbing wall) is the Shipshape Spa, comprising a well-equipped gym and roomy aerobics studio, a beauty salon, sauna and massage/treatment rooms.

Shipshape exercise classes are offered daily and many are free, but participation in specialty classes, including Yoga, Pilates, Kickboxing and Fitball, cost £5 (about U.S. $9.50) per session.

Oddly enough, given that the spa is run by the usually-pricey Steiner, the cost of some treatments was fairly reasonable -- an acknowledgement, perhaps, that the British are a bit too watchful of their pennies to lavish outrageous amounts of cash on short-lived feel-goodies. At £107 (about U.S. $203), a tooth whitening treatment was highly effective and actually a very good value (I know because I tried it). But I suspect an £83 (U.S. $157) Hot Stones Massage or "Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow" would have had my bank manager in more of a lather than my skin.

Family

As always on Royal Caribbean ships, children's facilities -- centered around the Adventure Ocean complex on Deck 10 -- are imaginative and well-run, with age-specific activities designed for "Aquanauts" (3 to 5); "Explorers" (6 to 8); "Voyagers" (9 to 11), "Navigators" (12 to 14) and teens (who get their own common room/disco).

Programs operate from 9 a.m. - 10 p.m., with breaks for lunch, tea and dinner. A "Late Night Party Zone" operates from 10 p.m. - 1 a.m. and costs £4 (U.S. $7.50) per hour per child.

Fellow Passengers

British families have taken to this ship big-time, but there were also a fair proportion of older folk keen to try something new without the hassle of flying to join their ship.

Dress Code

Casual is the order of the daytime, but Britons do enjoy dressing rather more smartly for dinner, and many on my cruise had brought along more formal outfits for the welcome and farewell gala evenings (though black tie was clearly not obligatory).

Gratuity

British passengers have cabin and dining room gratuities of £6.65 per person (adult or child, about U.S. $12.50), per day collected in advance of their cruise unless they object, in which case they are expected to pay cash onboard.

While most thought this to be fair enough, many found the additional burden of a compulsory 15 percent tip on every drink bill rather hard to swallow. And several were infuriated by the embarrassing -- and cheeky -- practice of adding a 15 percent compulsory service charge and still leaving a space on the bill for an "additional gratuity." I quite agree with them -- enough, already!

--by Maria Harding. Harding, Cruise Critic's England-based correspondent, also writes for "The Times of London" and "The Daily Telegraph."

Dining

Overall, I've seen quite an increase in quality in Royal Caribbean's cuisine over the years, and this is particularly noticeable in Legend's Romeo and Juliet formal dining room, where a different, prettily designed menu is presented at every meal, featuring offbeat dishes -- including scallop risotto and Thai-style shrimp -- alongside regular "fussy eater" standbys like juicy steaks and roast chicken. For dinner, passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for RCI's My Time Dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or simply walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those opting for My Time Dining will need to pre-pay gratuities.)

Clearly, Legend also has a chocoholic chef tucked away in its kitchen, if the melt-in-the-mouth quality of the chocolate bread pudding, and warm chocolate cake with pears are anything to go by!

The restaurant is smartly presented, and the two-tier Romeo and Juliet, with its grand staircase, large windows, marbled entrance and spectacular central chandelier is very pretty indeed. Breakfast and lunch are available there as well.

One noticeable omission on this ship is the lack of an alternative restaurant; as its engines are located mid-ship, it's a structural problem. This means that, unlike Enchantment of the Seas, Legend can't be stretched.

There are other options, however. The Windjammer also offers panoramic views on three sides, and its clean white walls, plants and nautical-themed tiled murals give it a jaunty seaside feel.

It is also well designed, with lots of separate food stations to minimize queuing and some coffee bar-style tall counters with high seating, ideal for guests who want a quick snack with a fine sea view thrown in.

The Solarium cafe offers hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza-style hot meals and cookies until 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. until the early hours.

There is also free, on-tap ice cream, tea and coffee available outside the Windjammer, and -- at a price -- Ben & Jerry's ice cream, specialty coffees and cakes are served at Latte-tudes cafe and ice cream bar.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended) between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.50 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $3.50 per person, per day to the cabin steward; $2 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. Royal Caribbean also recommends $.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter, but we don't necessarily give this unless the service is special. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

--by Maria Harding. Harding, Cruise Critic's England-based correspondent, also writes for "The Times of London" and "The Daily Telegraph."

Dining

Overall, I've seen quite an increase in quality in Royal Caribbean's cuisine over the years, and this is particularly noticeable in Legend's Romeo and Juliet formal dining room, where a different, prettily designed menu is presented at every meal, featuring offbeat dishes -- including scallop risotto and Thai-style shrimp -- alongside regular "fussy eater" standbys like juicy steaks and roast chicken.

Clearly, Legend also has a chocoholic chef tucked away in its kitchen, if the melt-in-the-mouth quality of the chocolate bread pudding, and warm chocolate cake with pears are anything to go by!

The restaurant is smartly presented, and the two-tier Romeo and Juliet, with its grand staircase, large windows, marbled entrance and spectacular central chandelier is very pretty indeed. Breakfast and lunch are available there as well.

One noticeable omission on this ship is the lack of an alternative restaurant; as its engines are located mid-ship, it's a structural problem. This means that, unlike Enchantment of the Seas, Legend can't be stretched.

There are other options, however. The Windjammer also offers panoramic views on three sides, and its clean white walls, plants and nautical-themed tiled murals give it a jaunty seaside feel.

It is also well designed, with lots of separate food stations to minimize queuing and some coffee bar-style tall counters with high seating, ideal for guests who want a quick snack with a fine sea view thrown in.

Travelers who really hate being confined to a two-seating dining room and don't want to eat buffet-style all the time will find some relief at the Solarium cafe, which serves hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza-style hot meals and cookies until 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. until the early hours.

There is also free, on-tap ice cream, tea and coffee available outside the Windjammer, and -- at a price -- Ben & Jerry's ice cream, specialty coffees and cakes are served at Latte-tudes cafe and ice cream bar.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended) between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Gratuity

British passengers have cabin and dining room gratuities of £6.65 per person (adult or child, about U.S. $12.50), per day collected in advance of their cruise unless they object, in which case they are expected to pay cash onboard.

While most thought this to be fair enough, many found the additional burden of a compulsory 15 percent tip on every drink bill rather hard to swallow. And several were infuriated by the embarrassing -- and cheeky -- practice of adding a 15 percent compulsory service charge and still leaving a space on the bill for an "additional gratuity." I quite agree with them -- enough, already!

--by Maria Harding. Harding, Cruise Critic's England-based correspondent, also writes for "The Times of London" and "The Daily Telegraph." You might think that Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas is just like all its other Vision-class siblings. These relatively mid-sized vessels, which also include Enchantment, Grandeur, Rhapsody, Splendour and Vision, share quite a few common features and facilities. Most distinguishing? Along with all the usual amenities -- pools, seven-deck-high Centrum, cafe bar, elaborate main restaurant and Royal Caribbean's signature circular Viking Crown Lounges -- the Vision-class vessels are also known as the "ships of light" as a result of spectacular sea views afforded by glass canopies and massive floor-to-ceiling windows.

With fun options a the rock-climbing wall and an 18-hole mini golf course, there's still plenty of good 'ol American pizzazz onboard Legend of the Seas.

But Legend of the Seas' most distinctive feature is not found onboard. It's where it sails. The ship is based year-round in Asia, offering a dizzying variety of cruises from homeports in South Korea, Japan, China and Singapore. This regional deployment creates a very international passenger mix comprised of folks from China, Japan, Australia, Europe and United States.

Dining

Overall, I've seen quite an increase in quality in Royal Caribbean's cuisine over the years, and this is particularly noticeable in Legend's Romeo and Juliet formal dining room, where a different, prettily designed menu is presented at every meal, featuring offbeat dishes -- including scallop risotto and Thai-style shrimp -- alongside regular "fussy eater" standbys like juicy steaks and roast chicken. For dinner, passengers can choose between assigned early (6 p.m.) or late (8:30 p.m.) dining, or opt for RCI's My Time Dining, in which you pick a preferred mealtime (anytime between 6 and 9:30 p.m.), but can change your reservations on a daily basis or simply walk in when you're hungry. (Note: Those opting for My Time Dining will need to pre-pay gratuities.)

Clearly, Legend also has a chocoholic chef tucked away in its kitchen, if the melt-in-the-mouth quality of the chocolate bread pudding, and warm chocolate cake with pears are anything to go by!

The restaurant is smartly presented, and the two-tier Romeo and Juliet, with its grand staircase, large windows, marbled entrance and spectacular central chandelier is very pretty indeed. Breakfast and lunch are available there as well.

One noticeable omission on this ship is the lack of an alternative restaurant; as its engines are located mid-ship, it's a structural problem. This means that, unlike Enchantment of the Seas, Legend can't be stretched.

There are other options, however. The Windjammer also offers panoramic views on three sides, and its clean white walls, plants and nautical-themed tiled murals give it a jaunty seaside feel.

It is also well designed, with lots of separate food stations to minimize queuing and some coffee bar-style tall counters with high seating, ideal for guests who want a quick snack with a fine sea view thrown in.

The Solarium cafe offers hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza-style hot meals and cookies until 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. until the early hours.

There is also free, on-tap ice cream, tea and coffee available outside the Windjammer, and -- at a price -- Ben & Jerry's ice cream, specialty coffees and cakes are served at Latte-tudes cafe and ice cream bar.

Royal Caribbean's room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner. There is no charge for room service (though a buck or two gratuity is recommended) between 5 a.m. and midnight; late-night orders incur a $3.95 fee.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.Editor's Note: Legend of the Seas emerged from a $50 million dry-dock in February 2013 with a slew of new features. As part of RCI's $500 Royal Advantage initiative, the ship gained a number of attractions first introduced on the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas. New eats include Park Cafe (fee-free bistro-style sandwiches, salads and breakfast), Chef's Table (a for-fee culinary event hosted by one of the ship's chefs), Chops Grille (upcharge steakhouse) and Izumi Asian Cuisine (added fee applies). The 60's-inspired R Bar was added and the signature top-ship Viking Crown Lounge remodeled. Onboard entertainment options now include an outdoor movie screen and a new aerial show in the Centrum, Legend's indoor hub. New cabins were added and existing cabins were refreshed (all now feature flat-panel TV's). Finally, digital signage and bow-to-stern Wi-Fi was installed. Stay tuned for the updated review.

You might think that Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas is just like all its other Vision-class siblings. These relatively mid-sized vessels, which also include Enchantment, Grandeur, Rhapsody, Splendour and Vision, share quite a few common features and facilities. Most distinguishing? Along with all the usual amenities -- pools, seven-deck-high Centrum, cafe bar, elaborate main restaurant and Royal Caribbean's signature circular Viking Crown Lounges -- the Vision-class vessels are also known as the "ships of light" as a result of spectacular sea views afforded by glass canopies and massive floor-to-ceiling windows.

With fun options a the rock-climbing wall and an 18-hole mini golf course, there's still plenty of good 'ol American pizzazz onboard Legend of the Seas.

But Legend of the Seas' most distinctive feature is not found onboard. It's where it sails. The ship is based year-round in Asia, offering a dizzying variety of cruises from homeports in South Korea, Japan, China and Singapore. This regional deployment creates a very international passenger mix comprised of folks from China, Japan, Australia, Europe and United States.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean recommends $3.75 per person, per day to the dining room waiter; $5 per person, per day to the cabin steward (or $7.25 if you're in a suite); $0.75 per person, per day to the headwaiter; and $2.15 per person, per day to the assistant waiter. This totals $11.65 for those in standard cabins and $13.90 for those in suites. Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance (and must be if you opt for flexible dining), added to your onboard bill or paid in cash at the end of the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Effective March 1, Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

Gratuity

Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.

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