Legend of the Seas provides lots to keep passengers busy on what are generally longer sailings -- an impressive feat for a ship of its more compact size.
Deck 4's That's Entertainment Theatre is the ship's main show venue, where you'll find nightly performances by onboard singers and dancers, jugglers, comedians and magicians. The singing and dancing, although occasionally interspersed with magic tricks and other interesting twists, is the standard you'll see on most cruise ships. The comedian and juggler, however, were decent. The theater also hosts the Love and Marriage game show, and recently released movies are shown there on a handful of sea days during each sailing. Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties on three occasions while films were being shown during our voyage. The third was so bad that, after waiting half an hour, the audience never did get to see more than the first 20 minutes of the movie. Done up in shades of cream, tan and gold -- with brass stars on the walls and sculptures of what appear to be trumpeting angels carved out of ice -- this venue offers wonderfully comfortable leatherette chairs, excellent sight lines and reserved seating for disabled passengers and those in suites or the upper tiers of the line's loyalty program. Note that the theater is just across the hall from the casino; because the theater doors are rarely kept closed during performances, noise from slot machines and the like often trickles in and can disrupt the audio experience for passengers near the rear of the venue. We and several others on our sailing also found the show times to be a little inconvenient. Several of the early shows started at 7 p.m., which made them difficult for both early (5:30 p.m.) and late (8 p.m.) diners to attend.
Despite the upgraded look of the rest of the ship, the Anchors Aweigh Lounge is like stepping onto the set of a 1970s game show. In fact, its colors and stage setup are oddly reminiscent of The Price is Right's earlier days. Found on Deck 5 forward, it's the place to be for bingo, karaoke, art auctions and private gatherings. If you're looking for Quest -- Royal Caribbean's risque scavenger hunt, in which multiple teams find and do crazy things, without leaving the room, in an effort to gain points -- that's the place to be.
For a more conventional scavenger hunt experience, check the daily schedule, and head to the Schooner Bar, Deck 4 mid, where the hunt is based. Passengers also gather there for daily trivia, Nintendo Wii competitions and enrichment activities like jewelry-making, napkin folding, scrapbooking, origami instruction and foreign language lessons. (Other enrichment-based activities, including sushi making and fruit carving, take place on Deck 9 by the pool throughout each sailing.) This lounge's nautical theme is both refined and fitting, but its location stinks -- literally. It's flanked on one side by the Centrum and on the other by the section of Casino Royale that permits smoking; sometimes it wafts into the area.
By far, the most impressive and breathtaking entertainment offerings onboard are the aerialist shows, which are featured in the ship's five-deck Centrum. Anywhere from two to four acrobats dance, flip and twirl in midair while suspended from ropes, bungees and other structures designed specifically for each routine. On our sailing, two differently themed shows were scheduled. The first lasted fewer than 10 minutes and featured two people, dressed in bright yellow and orange leotards, climbing on a gold wheel-like apparatus reminiscent of the sun. The sight was set to Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." The second and longer (about 20 minutes) of the two shows was called "Seasons" and featured all four aerialists and several of the ship's singers and dancers, who accompanied the aerialists with songs (and costumes) based on each of the four seasons. Each themed show offers two performances on the same night -- one early and one late. For prime views, be sure to get there early to snag a seat or a spot along the railing. In our opinion, Deck 5 (facing the glass elevators with your back to the shops and Guest Relations desk) offers the best vantage point. For those more interested in the mechanical workings of the show, Decks 7 and 8 are the best bets.
In addition to housing the aerialist shows, the Centrum is also ideal for live musical performances and dance lessons, given by Legend of the Seas' dancers.
On Panama Canal crossings, Legend of the Seas brings a local narrator onboard to share facts, figures and history about the canal and its construction as you sail through it. Ours did an excellent job of letting us know when the next lock was coming and even pointed out other notable highlights along the way, including the small prison that's now the permanent home of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.
For any help during your sailing, you'll want to make note of the passenger services and shore excursion desks on Deck 5 in the Centrum. Spanning five decks, the Centrum is the ship's hub, providing places to mingle while enjoying drinks and music at plush tables and chairs scattered throughout. It's also where you'll find the R Bar, a small entertainment stage, dance floor and art gallery on Deck 4; the port shopping desk on Deck 5; the photo gallery and aforementioned Cafe Latte-tudes on Deck 6 (along with the small library, daily trivia and Sudoku, and a handful of board games like Scrabble and checkers); and the future cruise office and Internet cafe on Deck 8. The Internet cafe offers a dozen desktop computers with printing capabilities. After registering on one of the ship's computers, you can also use your own device, such as a laptop or tablet, via shipwide Wi-Fi. Rates start at 85 cents per minute, but packages of minutes can be pre-purchased to cut down on the per-minute cost: 38 minutes for $24.95, 90 minutes for $49.95, 208 minutes for $99.95, 555 minutes for $199.95, or 1,666 minutes for $399.95.
Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge, Deck 11, was updated and decreased in size on Legend of the Seas to make room for Chops Grille and Izumi. Although its bubble chandeliers, geometric tables and chairs, convenient bar and skilled DJ give off a hotel nightclub ambience, the dance floor was completely deserted every time we stopped in. During the day, the lounge serves as a quiet spot for reading, napping or just watching the world go by via large picture windows.
Gamblers can try their luck at Deck 4's Casino Royale, which includes tables for poker, blackjack and roulette, as well as slot machines and other digital games. Cash is used more heavily than are SeaPass cards, which are only accepted by some of the machines. Passengers can use onboard ATMs (beware of hefty transaction fees) or draw cash advances from their SeaPass cards, but the ship will charge a 5 percent fee for the privilege.
Shopaholics will feel right at home in Deck 5's shops, which peddle logowear, sunglasses, watches, jewelry, sundries, snacks and duty-free alcohol, cigarettes and perfume. Use the first couple days of your sailing to browse, but don't buy too soon. Discounts are offered on an almost daily basis, and they get better later in the voyage. Note that, although the onboard shops sell watches, they don't sell watch batteries; bring extras with you if you think you might need them to keep track of local time.
Additional public spaces include the Diamond Club and Concierge Lounge on Deck 9 mid, a medical center on Deck 1 mid, and a decently large conference facility on Deck 3 mid.
There are no self-service laundry facilities onboard, which can be a pain on longer sailings if you're a light packer. Either bring detergent, and be prepared to do some handwashing in your bathroom sink, or take advantage of laundry services offered for a fee. A "wash and fold" laundry special on each sailing (ask your room steward about discount days) allows you to fill a ship-provided bag with as many socks, shorts, T-shirts, swimwear, underwear and pajamas as you can fit for a flat fee of $30. Unfortunately, it's not possible to have the crew wash your clothing and send it back to you to air dry. We were also told by crewmembers that the laundry service can be rough on clothes; that warning, combined with a "we're not responsible" disclaimer on the paperwork for the service, forced us to take the handwashing route. Individual items can be dry-cleaned or washed, dried and pressed for per-garment fees that range from 95 cents (for handkerchief pressing) to $12.95 (for dress or suit dry-cleaning).
Legend of the Seas' peaceful Vitality at Sea Spa (Deck 9), along with many other cruise ships' spas, is run by Steiner Leisure. It offers five treatment rooms and a standard menu of spa treatments, including teeth whitening, facials, massages, and body scrubs and wraps that range in price from $119 for a 50-minute Hydralift facial to $365 for a 75-minute couple's Swedish massage. Despite what we were told on embarkation day (we asked, they said no), discounts -- lots of them -- are offered throughout each sailing, particularly on port days when most passengers are ashore. Also look for frequent specials that allow you to choose from a preset list of treatments for one discounted price. We tried an embarkation-day deep tissue massage and were told we'd get 75 minutes for the 60-minute price. They cut us about 10 minutes short, and the rumbling of the ships engines could annoyingly be felt from the table. Otherwise, the treatment was exceptional. As always, services are followed by pitches for a variety of Elemis products. If you're not interested, just say no, or tell your attendant ahead of time that you'd prefer not to purchase anything. An 18 percent tip will automatically be added to your tab; you can add an additional tip if you wish.
In the same area as the spa is a small salon that provides services for both men and women, including haircutting and styling, manicures and pedicures, and waxing. Prices range from $19 for an upper lip wax to $149 for a Keratin hair treatment. As with the previously mentioned spa treatments, watch for packages that group salon offerings together for one price. On our sailing, an especially reasonable one for men allowed them to choose three treatment options (express shave, scalp and neck massage, hand and arm massage, men's deep cleansing facial, precision haircut or facial massage) for a flat fee of $99.
In the Deck 9 Vitality complex, you'll also find the fitness center. Awkwardly small but well equipped, it features 10 spin bikes, five regular Life Fitness bikes, six treadmills, five ellipticals, two steppers and several Cybex weight machines, as well as a host of free weights, exercise balls, step boxes and yoga mats. A handful of fitness classes like stretching and abs workshops are held free of charge throughout each sailing. For-fee offerings include spin ($12), yoga ($12) and Body Sculpt Boot Camp ($30). Personal training sessions are also available for an extra charge; they're often discounted if you purchase more than one. Seminars like "Burn Fat Faster" and "Secrets to a Flatter Stomach" appear on each daily schedule, but they're usually just sales pitches veiled as educational presentations.
Other fitness center facilities include men's and women's locker rooms with showers and restroom facilities, men's and women's saunas and steam rooms, and a coed relaxation room and sun deck where passengers can relax, free of charge, pre- or post-workout or spa treatment. Be warned: The outdoor deck is quiet and rarely crowded, but if you lie there long enough, you'll be covered in black soot from the ship's funnel, which is positioned just above.
For those who prefer to stay fit outdoors, the ship has a rock climbing wall, mini-golf course and several shuffleboard courts on Deck 10, as well as a one-lane jogging track. Four laps equal one mile, but the path is narrow, and it can become even more so if the deck is crowded with people walking or sunning themselves on the surrounding loungers. Ping-Pong tables are located on Deck 9.
If swimming is your preferred activity, there are two pools onboard. The main pool, located outside on Deck 9 is surrounded by a giant outdoor movie/television screen, two whirlpools and a pool bar, as well as plenty of loungers. (Although there were chair hogs out and about on our sailing, we never had trouble finding an open chair, even during peak times on sea days.) A secondary wave pool is located in the Solarium, near the gym and spa on Deck 9. Inside, you'll find a quiet space with a bit of a Roman atmosphere. Two hot tubs complement the pool and the Park Cafe (see Dining), as well as several tables off to the side, perfect for a quiet midday meal or a late-night snack. It's supposed to be an adults-only area, but we did see some well-behaved teenagers in there on occasion, mostly snagging grub. Although the roof of the Solarium is retractable, we didn't see it open at all on our voyage.
Children's programming, known as Adventure Ocean on Royal Caribbean ships, is a strong point for Royal Caribbean. However, due to the longer nature of Legend's sailings, the ship doesn't carry many children. A kids club supervisor tells us only about 30 cruisers younger than 18 are found onboard during the ship's peak times. Nonetheless, the facilities available are perfect for keeping youngsters occupied.
The Royal Babies and Tots nursery on Deck 10, for children younger than 36 months, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5:15 p.m. to midnight on sea days. Port day hours are 7 a.m. to noon and 5:15 p.m. to midnight. Prices are $6 per child, per hour, during the day. The fee goes up to $8 at night.
Reservations are required, and although a 50 percent cancellation fee applies to cancellations made less than one hour from the scheduled time, demand is often low enough that Legend's policy is more flexible. Supervised play is provided, as are cribs for napping. Parents are allowed to go ashore on port days while their young children are in the nursery. Several activities for the wee ones are offered throughout each sailing, including play groups, bedtime stories and other activities, both with and without parents. Fisher-Price toys can also be signed out for parents to use with their children elsewhere on the ship. For-fee in-cabin baby-sitting is available upon request for children at least 1 year old.
Supervised kids programming for those between the ages of 3 and 17 is free.
The 3- to 11-year-old set convenes in Club Ocean on Deck 10 to enjoy a variety of age-appropriate fun. Aquanauts (3 to 5 years) listen to stories, have sing-alongs, dance and play with hula hoops. Explorers (6 to 8) and Voyagers (9 to 11) often have activities that overlap, due to the small number of children that sail on Legend of the Seas. Their shenanigans include game play, science experiments and art projects.
Teens have their own facility, Optix, on Deck 10, just across from Club Ocean. The clubby atmosphere provides a dance floor and a DJ booth, as well as tables and comfy chairs with plenty of magazines and board games. Although planned activities are supervised, teens are able to come and go as they please. Activities for ages 12 to 14 include movies, photo scavenger hunts, dessert creation, trivia, late-night mini-golf, video game play and dodgeball. Meanwhile, those in the 15 to 17 bracket might take part in games, trivia, shuffleboard tournaments, video game play, rock climbing, teen Quest, Amazing Race competitions and late-night themed parties.
A small arcade is next to Optix on Deck 10, and it's open to all passengers. Because it was downsized to make room for the Royal Babies and Tots nursery during Legend's refurb, it now contains only a small handful of games.
Parents should note that there's an onboard curfew of 1 a.m. for all cruisers younger than 18.