In December 2015, Legend of the Seas homeported for her inaugural five-month season in Brisbane. Cruise Passenger’s Teresa Ooi took a ride from Sydney to Brisbane.
At 94, Madam Man Tak Ching was far too busy playing mahjong with her three daughters on Legend of the Seas’ Solarium pool deck to chat. The cruise holiday was a family reunion for her four daughters and only son, so her children probably colluded to let her win most of the games.
“Our family members are loyal cruisers on Royal Caribbean’s ships,” said eldest daughter Hilda Lee. “We like to cruise as a family because this is one of the few times we can holiday together without any distractions from grandchildren.”
The family was on a 14-night cruise from Sydney to Singapore calling at Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin and Benoa, Bali.
Half the size of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager-class ships, Legend carries 1,800 passengers, the 11-deck Legend replaced the much-loved Rhapsody of the Seas in the Australian market. She will be the fourth Royal Caribbean ship based in Australia during the 2015-16 wave season. Rhapsody has returned to the Mediterranean.
Cruise Passenger was invited to experience Legend during a two-night cruise from Sydney to Brisbane.
The ship underwent a $50 million refurbishment two years ago to refresh many of its public facilities, including the adults-only Solarium pool area. It has all the goodies to cater for children of various ages including a climbing wall, 12-hole miniature golf course, video-game arcade, teens’ haven, nursery, jogging track, two pools and four whirlpools.
Two specialty restaurants have been added including the signature Chops Grille serving juicy steak from Nebraska. There’s an extra charge of US$30 per person to dine on the top floor restaurant.
There’s also the contemporary Japanese fusion Izumi restaurant, which opens for dinner at an extra cost of US$25 per person.
Breakfast and lunch at Windjammer is buffet-style with an assortment of salads, chili con carne, spaghetti bolognaise, hot dogs, burgers, pizza, fried Chinese noodles with shrimp, chicken and turkey with gravy.
In the evenings, passengers can dine when they want at the Romeo & Juliet main dining room on deck five.
We stayed in an ocean-view stateroom on deck three, which was comfortable with a picture window, flat-screen TV, dressing table that doubles as a desk, but no adaptor (that has to be bought from the ship’s concierge for US$10).
Incidentals onboard aren’t cheap: one litre of Evian water in the cabin costs US$6 and a decent café latte at Latte-Tudes coffee bar will set you back US$4.75.
Legend of the Seas looks her age, but the passengers on board this cruise are younger and many are still working.
Gold Coast builder Michael Bovingdon decided to take the family on their first cruise to celebrate his 40th birthday. His two daughters, Danica, eight, and Lexi, six, loved the experience. Danica who scaling the climbing wall in no time and adored eating sushi at the dining room. “It’s like a moving sushi train and you don’t have to pay anything for it,’’ she said.
Retirees Ruth and Ron Haddon from Kiama, New South Wales, are seasoned cruisers and paid $1,100 per person for an inside cabin for the two-week cruise to Singapore. This worked out to be less than $100 a day including three meals.
“You can’t do a holiday at that price anywhere else. And I don’t have to make the beds,” said 80-year-old Mrs Haddon.
“We have done seven RCL cruises. You get to an age where you are surprised you are still here.
“We have never stayed in expensive cabins. Because we are repeat passengers, we are now members of the Crown & Anchor Society. One benefit is that we are invited to the Captain’s morning tea.
“We will be flying back from Singapore to Sydney with Scoot. We have done eight Scoot flights and its just fine as we are left alone by the flight attendants. We are only paying $250 each for our flights home. But I tell my friends we are flying Singapore Airlines.”
CRUISE LINE: Royal Caribbean Lines
VESSEL: Legend of the Seas
RATING: 3+ stars
PASSENGER CAPACITY: 1,800
TOTAL CREW: 720
PASSENGER DECKS: 11
ENTERED SERVICE: 1995
FACILITIES: Three specialty restaurants: Chops Grille, Izumi and Chef’s Table, two pools, four whirlpools, eight bars and lounges, theatre, climbing wall, jogging track, mini-golf course and outdoor movie screen.
BOOKINGS: 2-night Sampler Cruise to/from Brisbane aboard Legend of the Seas, December 8, 2015, is priced from $466 per person twin share. See royalcaribbean.com.au or phone 1800 754 500
Highs: The signature fillet mignon steak from Nebraska served at the elegant Chops Grille was exceptionally tender. American desserts to die for especially the Red Velvet cake and Huckleberry cheesecake. Good Wi-Fi connection.
Lows: Cost of an adaptor bought from the concierge US$10. Ouch.
Best Suited to: Family groups with plenty of activities for the kids while parents can lounge by the adults-only heated Solarium pool.