Todays cruise industry often seems best
represented by the newest, flashiest cruise ships. Take Royal
Caribbean International: Its catchy Get Out There ads seem
tailor-made for promoting the lines five Voyager-class ships, with
their full-size basketball and volleyball courts and ice-skating
But thousands of
passengers still opt for one of the ships in Royal Caribbeans
The question is:
Can passengers get out there on a ship without a
The Legend of the
Seas 11-day sailing from Ensenada, Mexico, to Honolulu was Travel
Weeklys test case.
The design of the
itinerary -- multiple days at sea -- may have skewed this report
somewhat. From the moment the lights of Ensenada disappeared in the
ships wake, there was nothing to look at but open ocean for five
At 70,000 gross
tons, the well-maintained Legend of the Seas is a little more than
half the size of Royal Caribbeans 138,000-gross-ton Voyager-class
passenger-space ratio is smaller, too.
Caribbeans new ships, and several of the old ones, the Legend of
the Seas has not yet been tapped for the lines most recent round of
makeovers, which add public areas like Boleros Latin bar, Ben and
Jerrys and alternative restaurants.
The Legends decor
and artwork lean primarily toward classical Roman and Greek themes,
especially in the solarium and spa areas, both of which would make
a Caesar feel right at home.
There also are
occasional nods to general nautical themes in some of the bars and
lounges (the Schooner Bar is a Royal Caribbean staple). Brass and
glass are standard in the atrium.
The Legend seemed
to keep passengers as busy as they wanted to be, but the activities
offered put the volleyball players among us to the test.
Well-attended daily sessions included
an early-morning stretch class, twice-daily walk-a-miles and
aerobics classes. Attendance at the rock wall and the walking track
showed that exercise was a key element for a lot of the
For those seeking
a break from the workout room, many of the popular choices were the
usual cruise-ship pastimes: art auctions, team trivia and
It was quite a
challenge to find a seat for any of these activities.
It was possible to find a chair by the pool as late as 7:30 a.m.,
but it was very difficult in light of all the personal items --
books, towels, sunglasses -- that magically appeared to reserve the
seats. Royal Caribbeans clearly spelled-out policy banning the
practice was, for the most part, cheerfully ignored.
Food was a big
part of the Legends activity slate. The second-seating dinner
(which was far less crowded than main seating) moved quickly
through the courses. Selections were varied and always
It comes as no
surprise that the Legend lacks an alternative dining venue. After
all, the concept wasnt developed when the ship was launched in
1995. For the sophisticated cruise passenger used to multiple
dining options, this amenity will be missed.
meanwhile, were not tux-and-tails events.
If its been a
while since you have sailed on Royal Caribbean (for my wife and I
it had been nearly 10 years), you may notice some subtle
In response to
customer surveys, lunch menus in the dining room last year were
changed fleetwide to a simpler, less formal selection. Three
special selections daily added variety.
Theres plenty of
variety at the lunch buffets. Here, we found more changes:
Passengers were provided with tray-sized plates instead of a tray
with plates on top, and automated coffee machines dispensed a
controlled amount in one button-push.
Both seemed to
make sense for convenience, safety and conservation.
many passengers filtered into the feature show of the night. During
one of these, pianist Charles Brunner put on such an entertaining
performance that two additional request concerts were added to the
activities schedule later in the cruise.
after-dinner haunt was the Casino Royale.
There were plenty
of machines to keep slot players happy, but most interesting was
the variety of table games. The emergence of two relative
newcomers, Three Card Poker and Let It Ride, seems a nod toward
attracting younger gamblers to the casino, where space is at an
verdict: The Legend is more than capable of providing for active
But after five
days of exercise and relaxation at sea, more than a few people were
thrilled to see land off the bow.
It was time to
get out there. Pun intended.
To contact the
reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].