Friday, October 4, 2013

Carnival Legend - Norway & Europe Cruise

Carnival Legend in our first port: Ålesund, Norway

Carnival Legend Norway & Europe Cruise Review

September 1-12, 2013


Just The Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Legend
Ship Captain: Giuseppe Donato
Cruise Director: John Heald
Ports: Dover, Alesund, Bergan, Stravanger, Oslo, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, LeHarve
Weather:  Mixed, but generally good

This is my 36th Carnival cruise, 81st cruise overall, and my 1st time on the Carnival Legend. I am cruising with DW (dear wife) and my regular and close group of cruise friends: the Snoozemates. 

Day One--Sunday--Dover--Embarkation
We left Canterbury with another couple about 10:00 am for the easy drive to Dover.  We dropped the
White Cliffs of Dover
ladies and luggage at the cruise terminal & then returned our friends rental car.  We decided to walk across the bridge back to the pier as it would be a long wait for a taxi, but the weather was cool and only about a mile so off we go.  Embarkation was smooth as they had been boarding for a while, we basically just checked in at the VIP Desk and walked onto the ship.  After dropping our bags in the cabin we were up on Lido deck for lunch.  Soon we began seeing our other friends and that’s all it takes for a party to start.  I was able to sneak away to the cabin for a short snooze before the mandatory safety briefing.  Just after 5:00 pm we had an excellent view of the ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ as we sailed out of the harbor and into the English Channel to begin our wonderful cruise.  I was surprised to see all the large wind turbines in the channel.  It was time to explore the ship as it is my first time on the Carnival Legend.  First impression is good, but she has not had the 2.0 upgrades as yet.  Most of the public rooms and lounges are located forward on the ship including the piano bar, comedy club, and of course the primary show lounge.  We have two round tables located center in the Truffles Dining Room (MDR) for late seating dinner.  DW and I had a nice salad in the Unicorn (Lido) before dinner so I only had the new Chicken a la Grecque entree, but had two desserts: the Creme Brulee and Black Forest Gateau.  All were very good.  Since we had two Carnival newbies in our group I insisted that we attend the 10:15 pm Welcome Show presented by John Heald in the Follies lounge.  It did not disappoint as JH was his usual very entertaining self and the newbies were rolling in laughter.  Great start for all on the cruise.

Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Private Cocktail Party
Very blustery day with choppy seas as we sail from the English Channel and into the North Sea.  Not too concerned as this is a sea day and weather is to improve as the day progresses.  I started the morning with my usual 1st morning Carnival MDR breakfast in Truffles.  I had the Melon, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, hash brown Potatoes, Juice, and hot milk.  It was good so that is a good sign for the cruise.  DW had her usual room service breakfast.  Our cabin is located just below the lido beverage area so it is very easy to get juices, tea, and lemonade as needed.  Also just below the Deli and Salad bar, very convenient for a quick snack. Cruise activities for the day have begun, but we finished exploring the ship and had a casual morning.  We had our usual first sea day ‘Snoozemates and Friends’ cocktail party in Billies Piano Bar at 1:00 pm.  Our new and regular friends all attended and thanks to a good server and excellent bartender we had a great party and social.  In fact they were very generous with drinks and it was a very happy hour.  Following the ladies went to shop, one has her eye on a nice diamond, and a few went to the Carnival Deli for a nice late lunch.  The Corned Beef Sandwich was very good.  Being very content I had a very nice long afternoon snooze in the cabin.  It was the Captains Elegant Night this evening so there were photo opportunities and cocktails on the promenade deck with the Captain and ships officers.  Also the Captains Dinner with entree choices of Prime Rib, Lobster, Red Fish, and more.  I had Speghetti Carbonara as a starter and Prime Rib with Cherries Jubilee for dessert.  A few in the group went to the Punchliner Comedy Club and some to the casino. The main entertainment was Jazz Hot, but with a late show for late seating (10:30) we retired to the cabin as we have a big day planned for Ålesund.

Day Three--Tuesday—Ålesund, Norway
A beautiful day sailing around the islands into Ålesund this morning.  I went upstairs (one deck) to Lido for a nice buffet breakfast and brought it down to my balcony so I could enjoy the views as we approached our first Norwegian port.  We were docked about 9:00 am and were soon off as we have a big adventure to Geirangerfjord with another couple planned for the day.  We walked to Avis and picked up a rental car and were off for the two hour drive to meet the 12:30 Geiranger tourist ferry at Hellesylt.  En route we crossed one fjord by ferry, went through long mountain tunnels, crossed  over several mountains and enjoyed wonderful scenery.  The Geiranger ferry passes through the UNESCO heritage listed Geirangerfjord between several large snow capped mountains with numerous waterfalls on each

Geirangerfjord Overlook
side, a truly beautiful and unique experience. I even enjoyed an authentic Norwegian hot lunch of meat balls, new potatoes, mushy peas while on the ferry.  As the ferry Captain approached Geiranger he began playing Con Te Partirè by Andrea Bocelli as a tribute to the Italian ship anchored there...very clever I thought and I doubt very few ‘got it’.  The return drive was similar with one small ferry, ten consecutive hairpin curves up a very steep mountain, tunnels, and beautiful farm land and a few small mountain villages. The highlight of the return trip was a fantastic turn out with spectacular views up the Geirangerfjord.  Beautiful views.  Open the photo at left (double click it) and you will see the ferry returning up the fjord.  It will give you a since of scale as well, this fjord is huge.  We returned the car in Ålesund about 4:30 and were back on board ship by 5:00 pm.  A great adventure indeed.  We found a note on our cabin door upon return that the
Ålesund Salute
group sail away party was scheduled for 5:45 pm. in our cabin.  Makes sence as we have a large balcony facing the port of Ålesund.  We sailed at our scheduled 6:00 time and were escorted out by a fire boat spraying water and firing guns as a salute.  We had a perfect view from our balcony of the salute, harbor, and mountains as we sailed away.  It was soon time for dinner, tonight I ordered the Shrimp Cocktail, Fillet of Sole, a Shrimp entree to share, Prime Rib, and a Strawberry combo dessert.  Brett Cave was the primary entertainment in the main lounge, but after a long busy day we retired to the cabin after dinner.


Day Four--Wednesday--Bergen, Norway
Some rough seas overnight until we entered the fjord leading into Bergen.  We arrived about 9:00 am
Bergen from Mt. Fløyen
right on schedule and most in the group have a big nine-hour excursion today on the Flam railway, but our plan is to see the Bryggen and visit Mt. Fløyen in Bergen today so we have an easy morning.  I had an omelet from the Unicorn Cafe on Lido deck and DW had her room service.  We are docked in town so it’s only a easy ten minute walk to the UNESCO heritage site Tyskebryggen located along the eastern pier side of Bergen fyord.  The Bryggen is a series of wooden wharf warehouses dating back to 1360‘s when the local merchants were a part of the Hanseatic League.  The fact that any have survived is amazing in itself although most now date back to 1702.  They now house art galleries, premium tourist shops, and restaurants.  We ran into two friends while there and decided to go to the Mount Fløyen Railway together.  It was only a few blocks to the rail station where we boarded the train that takes you to the top of of Mount Fløyen and the beautiful overlook of the town of Bergen and the harbor.  We have been fortunate with the weather and had a wonderful view.  The Carnival Legend cruise ship looks so small from here.  We returned to Bergen proper and looked around before heading to the famous Bergen Fish Market at the head of the two sides of the Bergen fjord.  Here are located fresh fish stands that will sell and cook any combination of sea food you wish.  Very popular spot for lunch.  We walked around more of the town then back through the Bryggen again on the return to the ship about 4:00 pm.  A very nice walkable port to visit.  I ordered a BLT sandwich from room service as a late afternoon snack and it was excellent.  We had sail away cocktails in one of the cabins on starboard side as that was the side we were docked, nothing fancy as in Ålesund, but sailing the fjords are so beautiful in Norway.  Dinner was very good this evening, I ordered the Escargot, a Seafood salad, the Filet Mignon, and Ice Creme for dessert.  The steak was great so I will go with a beef theme the rest of the cruise.  Again we retired to the cabin after dinner.  Others went to the Casino or Punchliners Comedy Club.

Day Five--Thursday--Stavanger, Norway
Preikestolen - the Pulpit Rock
We had good weather and smooth seas overnight and arrived early so it was very easy for passengers going ashore early this morning. I went up to the Lido to get a nice breakfast and returned to the balcony this morning to have breakfast with the DW. We have a nice view of a picture perfect Stavanger neighborhood.  We have really found Norway to be very neat and clean, not only this area we are overlooking but the rural areas and small towns we have visited as well...almost unbelievably clean.  Again we are docked very near the city center so I went into Stavanger before our noon excursion.  I walked around for an hour+ visiting the Watchtower, the Stavanger Cathedral that dates to 1150, and observing the numerous quaint shops along the cobblestone streets of the old town.  Just before noon the group met for our big Lysefjord cruise tour.  We did book this one through Carnival as it was impossible to book a private tour to this location.  It was dear ($149.00 pp) but well worth the cost.  The Lysefjord is situated close to Stavanger, and is especially known for the mountain formations of Kjerag and Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock).  We had a nice high speed vessel that took us from the cruise pier around the harbor, some islands, and into the Lysefjord.  It was
Lysefjord Crew
another spectacular Norwegian fjord and a fun excursion especially with the entire group along.  Again we were lucky with the weather. A guide pointed out Cleng Peerson’s home area to me, he is buried in my local cemetery in Norse, Texas.  We returned to the ship about an hour before sail away so it was an enjoyable easy day.  DW and I made a dash for the old Stavanger Cathederal as it was not open this morning, we got in just as they were closing.  It is an active church so tourist hours are limited depending on use...very worthwhile if you can get in to see it.   Dinner tonight was again very good and I’m staying with the steak theme, tonight I ordered the Langostino Cocktail,  Pumpkin Soup, NY Strip Steak, and the Penne Pasta with Artichokes.  After dinner John Heald hosted a Jazz and cigar event on the Serenity Deck.  It was fun, but starting to get rather cool in the late evenings.  The feature entertainer tonight was Justin Illusion and the Legend Dancers in a magic show.

Day Six--Friday--at Sea
Golden Fleece Steakhouse luncheon
Smooth seas overnight, foggy morning and no port today so we slept until 9:00 am.  Just a light room service breakfast this morning on the balcony as we have a special luncheon today for the Diamond Guests on Board.  At noon we went up to the Golden Fleece Steak House on deck ten for the function. Cruise Director John Heald introduced Captain Donato, Hotel Director Chastney, the Senior Chef, and Senior Staff.  They served Champagne when we arrived and we had a choice of Red or White Wine with dinner. We were served starters of Quail, Cured Salmon with Candied Tomato, and Peppered Cheese Ravioli in Truffle Creme. My entree was Duet of Petit Fillet Mignon and Short Rib Confit served with Oven Roasted Potatoes and Burgundy Wine Sauce.  For dessert we had Variations of Strawberries: upside down Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Sorbet, Strawberry and Mascarpone Creme Strawberry Tart.  DW had a very nice Vegetarian Platter of potatoes and vegetables.  The ravioli and steak were outstanding.  It was a very enjoyable two-hour lunch and the service and venue were fantastic.  You can see from the photo there were about 50 people as they combined the Diamonds with passengers on a B2B.  With great afternoon weather we met our friends out on Serenity Deck and spent the rest of the day.  Very enjoyable sea day on the Carnival Legend.  The group met for cocktails as usual and then off to the Truffles dining room. For dinner tonight I ordered: Shrimp Cocktail, a Penne Arribacco, the Rib Eye Steak, and a sampling of desserts.  Again staying with the steak theme...they have been very good.  After dinner it was visiting, music, or gambling for most of the group.

The Scream by Munch
Day Seven--Saturday--Oslo, Norway
Smooth seas overnight and nice weather as we sailed up the Oslo fjord.  I had a nice MDR breakfast with fried eggs and all the extras.  Weather continues to be nice.  We are docked just opposite Akershus Fortress and although we are within walking distance of Oslo city center several of us took the HoHo bus this morning as you can catch it just outside the cruise terminal.  We got off at the Viking Ship Museum as others continued on to other sites.  After visiting the VSM it was back on the bus for the center of town and then to the  Oslo National Gallery to see the Munch 150 exhibit.  The highlight of course is the painting The Scream by Edward Munch. This is one of I believe five originals by Munch, three of them here in Oslo.  It was amazing to see such an iconic painting that holds the record for most times stolen and highest purchase price for sale of a painting.  The old Gallery and building are also very nice.  Upon leaving the gallery we needed a little break and went to  Karl Johan Street and stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe’s sidewalk cafe for drinks and lunch.  The local Ringnes beer was very good.  Not long after arriving the rest of our group happened by so we had a nice mini party.   I must mention that Norway is expensive as the Norwegian Kroner vs US dollar is not the best of exchange rates, but prices are just generally higher on most everything.  For example our Ringnes beers were $12+ each in USD.  After our late lunch the ladies spent time shopping in Oslo.  We eventually made our way towards the fortress and the cruise pier by sail away time.  After some needed relaxation and wine on the ship it was time for dinner and I ordered: French Onion Soup, Penne Mariscos, Beef Short Ribs, and sampled some desserts.  Tonights feature entertainer was David Knight the hypnotist, but several of us went to the Punchliners Comedy Club after dinner for some late night adult British humor.

Day Eight--Sunday--at Sea
Truffles Dining Room
Calm seas overnight.  I slept late and as this will be the last sea day of the cruise and with four upcoming ports of call, the plan is to have an easy day today. I enjoyed another casual MDR full breakfast this morning in Truffles. John Heald hosted his famous Marriage Show this afternoon in the Follies theater, there was a Veterans gathering, more Trivia Contests, and lots of other ship activities today, but it was Rest and Relaxation (R&R) until dinner for me.  Tonight for dinner I ordered the Green Pea Soup, a Green Garden Salad, a very good NY Strip Steak, and a selection of desserts.  I went to Punchliner’s Comedy Club for another comedy show with Tom Pepper, then to the theater for the late (10:30pm) production show: The Big Easy.  We’ve seen the show on other Carnival ships and it is one of their better production shows featuring music from or about New Orleans.  The show is a little different from cast to cast and we really enjoyed it. 

Day Nine--Monday--Hamburg, Germany
Lübeck Town Hall
Calm seas overnight and a light rain this morning.  Our plan is for another adventure on our own today with another couple so we had a quick breakfast and prepared for an early day.  We are docked in the commercial Fish Market area of Hamburg docks so it’s somewhat away from the town center and we were off so early there were no taxis to take us to the train station.  We walked in a light rain to a sub station that took us to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, and arranged for our return tickets to Lübeck about 40-45 minutes away by train.  Lübeck is an old town that was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  We arrived in Lübeck and the plan was to walk to old town through the famous Holstentor gate, but as it was still a light to steady rain we took a taxi from the station and began our self walk through the medieval old town area dominated by seven church steeples. The oldest are the Lübecker Dom (the city's cathedral) and the Marienkirche (Saint Mary's), both from the 13th and 14th centuries.  We took a nice self-tour of St. Mary’s then it was off to lunch at the famous Ratskeller zu Lübeck located in the basement below the old City Chambers (photo).  We arrived at opening as planned and were rewarded by being seated in the Thomas Mann booth.  I really wanted to eat at an old traditional German restaurant and they did not disappoint.  We started with some Holsten Pilsener beer and I ordered the Lübecker Pökel-Eisbein mit Sauerkraut, Erbsenpüree, Speckstippe  (Lübeck cured-pork knuckle with sauerkraut, mashed peas, and bacon) and it was excellent.  DW ordered a Vegetable Potato AuGraten and she
Lübecker Pökel-Eisbein mit Sauerkraut
said it was the best vegetarian dish she has had in years.  As we left people were contending to get our booth...very interesting.  Lübeck is the home and originator of marzipan so we went just a block to Niederegger to purchase some as a dessert and take back to the ship.  We had to limit our day and catch a train back to Hamburg as the ship leaves early so we returned to the station and took the next train to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.  Upon arriving we took a taxi back to the ship passing along the Reeperbahn and seeing the Beatles-Platz and entertainment district.  We just made it back by the 4:00 pm scheduled departure.  Carnival scheduled the Past Guest Party for 4:45 in the Follies Theater, it was the usual with complementary drinks, the Carnival Legend Show Band, a Carnival film, but perhaps better than many as John Heald as the CD makes it entertaining.  The group then continued the party on our extended balcony and watched us sail down the busy River Elbe until sunset.  We have one in the group leaving tomorrow so we met for cocktails in the Oydessy Lounge before dinner.  For dinner tonight I ordered the Tom Ka Gai, Farfalle Pasta with Turkey, Grilled Pork Steak and had two desserts: Bitter & Blanc and Tiramisu.  After dinner there was a 4 hour Dancing set by the Carnival Legend band in Satchmo's, Samantha Jay as the singing feature in Follies theater, Motown Hour in Medusa's Lair, the Piano Bar, and much more, but after a very long day I retired to the cabin after dinner.

Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Day Ten--Tuesday--Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fair seas overnight, rain light then heavier throughout the day. We are to arrive in Amsterdam at 1:00 pm and the Carnival Legend spent the morning sailing up the channel to the inner Dutch canals. We met six of our friends for breakfast in the MDR primarily so we could use our Carnival VIFP complementary cocktail coupons.  I had a nice full breakfast with a Bloody Mary.  Soon the Carnival Legend started to enter the primary lock as we will not be at sea level in the canals so everyone headed to the various decks then our extended balcony to watch the process.  It was very interesting, a smaller version of the Panama Canal locks.  We arrived in Amsterdam on time and DW and I debarked about 1:45 pm.  We walked through the infamous Red Light District (RLD) on our way to Dam Square in the center of Amsterdam.  Here we saw the various monuments and did a tour of the Royal Palace.  It was very interesting and one of the places I could not visit on my previous holiday in Amsterdam so I was pleased we were able to take the tour.  Afterwards we found a great little bar, Cafe Belgique on Gravenstraat near Dam Square. As it was raining we stayed for a few beers.  We began walking back towards the Central Station and ship and planned on a canal tour, but it was really too rainy, so we stopped at the Grasshopper then a nice Grolsch sponsored pub on the edge of the RLD.  We had to walk in the rain back to the pier, but we really didn’t mind by this time.  We arrived back late, after 8:00 pm and ordered late room service, the BLT’s and Reuben sandwiches were great and the chocolate covered strawberries that were delivered were a good dessert.  It was a rainy, but very interesting day in Amsterdam.

Day Eleven--Zeebrugge, Belgium
Grote Markt Square in Brugge
We arrived in Zeebrugge and docked by 9:00 am as scheduled.  We are in Flanders and the Flemish area of Belgium and this is my first visit to this area.  I had breakfast on the balcony and we were getting around a little late after a long day in Amsterdam.  Earlier most of the group shared a taxi into Brugges.  Since transport here is a little difficult I called the Legend excursion desk and asked if there were any tours still available, there was only one with spaces still available so I booked it. The excursion was the Brugges and Belgian Beer Tasting and it left at noon. Perfect.  We did not know what to expect, but it turned out to be the BEST Carnival shore excursion I have ever been on at anytime. We did not even have a full bus so some Carnival entertainment staff joined us and as we pulled away from the ship the guide began explaining the history of the area and what we will be doing this afternoon.  When we arrived in central Brugges we split into two smaller groups to do a wonderful walking tour of the area.  Brugges is a wonderful old medieval town also with ties to the Henseatic League as are several towns we have visited on this trip.  The historic centre of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we saw many Coblestone streets with wonderful chocolate shops and beautiful Canals & bridges, the Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, the Basilica of the Holy Blood,  the City Hall on Burg Square, Brewery De Halve Maan, and of course the Grote Markt (great market) Square with the large Belfry and it’s intact medieval architecture.  After our walking tour we met our other ½ group and all went to Bierbrasserie Cambrinus just off the Grote Markt for our beer tasting.  I was expecting a tourist or secondary bar and small glasses for the tasting, but I was wrong, 
Bierbrasserie Cambrinus is one of the top rated locations in Bruges and the beers were full sized 12-16 oz. proper Belgian beers all served in the appropriate glassware along with bottle.  The beers were wonderful with one having an alcohol content of 12%+ yet it was smooth.  My favorite was probably the Westmalle beer (alc 9.5%) We also ordered fries so we were doing well especially me who was  able to share much of DW’s beer as well as my own.  We had an hour of free time and DW got an early start to shop while I finished the beer.  In the area were tourist shops and many chocolate shops including one of the original (1926) Godiva Chocolate shops located in a prime spot on Grote Markt Square.  We too soon had to return to the bus for the return trip to the port and our ship.  We had a fantastic time on this excursion and our afternoon in Brugge and wish to return.  We did sample the Big 3: beer, fries, and chocolate! In fact it was the best carnival excursion we have ever taken.  We sailed at 6:00 pm and we enjoyed our balcony time again for sail away and some rest after a great day.  The production show tonight, Juggler Neils Duinker, was actually early (7:15)  for late seating guests, a much better plan IMHO. Dinner tonight was again very good, I ordered the Escargot, Chateaubriand and for dessert had some NY Cheesecake and the traditional Baked Alaska.  They have new comedians in Punchliners’ so some did that and others went to the casino or other music venues.

Day Twelve--Le Havre, France
Bayeux Tapestry
Smooth seas in the English Channel overnight.  We have a long port day today 8:00am to 8:00 pm in LeHarve.  We both had room service breakfast this morning on the balcony.  Six of our group are debarking today to do Paris or France, our plan is to rent an car and tour Normandy.  I was worried about our rental reservation so I wanted to be at the terminal early, but we were able to get our car in a timely manner.  Soon three of us were off on another adventure.  We made our way out of town and soon crossed the Pont de Normandie bridge, when opened a few years ago, was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  We are now in the heart of Normandy and heading to Bayeux.  We arrived in Bayeux in just over an hour and went strait to the see the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The Tapestry dates to the 1070’s and is a 230 ft long embroidered cloth that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England concerning William, Duke of Normandy, and Harold, later King of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It was very interesting.  Just as we reached the gift shop we ran into two of our friends who debarked after us and will be touring France.  We had a wonderful crepe lunch at Le Moulin De La Galette in Bayeux.  Then all of us drove to the coast to visit the Normandy D-Day beaches.  First stop was Pont De Hoc were the Rangers went up the cliffs to take out German guns.  They still have the concrete pill boxes, underground bunkers, and  huge craters created by the large shells fired from battleships on D-day.  Next stop was the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer.  Everyone has seen photos or the opening of Saving Private Ryan and seen the cemetery in photos or film, but it really is hard to describe in person.  It is a beautiful site and the museum is very good, but one has to experience it for themselves.  We needed to start back towards LeHarve and took the coastal road past the Omaha beach and Gold Beach landing areas.  We could see the British memorials at Arromanches and others along the coastal road.  I will say it was a very interesting drive through the countryside and along the coast.  We now started heading back through Caen and the main highway to LeHarve and arrived back at the pier about 7:30 pm.  Quite an adventure for our day in France.  We did make it dinner and we are down to just one table for our last night on the ship.  Tonight I ordered the Crab Cake, Panko Shrimp, Prime Rib, and Grand Manier Souffle for dessert.  After dinner we retired to the cabin to pack for tomorrows debarkation.

Debarkation / London
Tower Bridge in London
Light rain in Dover as we arrived about 7:00 a.m.  Three of us chose to do self-debark and take our own bags off the ship. We had a light breakfast on Lido deck and left the cabin about 8:05 am.  We had no problems getting an elevator nor getting through to the gangway and final check-out. (ding!) We had purchased an advance Carnival Shuttle ($10) ticket to Dover Priory Train Station. It was a local carrier with smaller vans than ran continuously so we were at the train station straightaway and purchased a ticket (£38pp) on the 8:40 Express to London that arrived about 10:15 am.  Perfect timing all around. Upon arrival we took a London Taxi (£15) to the hotel arriving about 10:45 am.  The folks at the Chamberlain Hotel were very accommodating and allowed us an early check-in.  We were in our rooms by 11:00am--a very successful debark morning.  We had a great day in London using our London Passes starting by walking down to the  Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, then the Tower Bridge tour, a visit to Westminster Cathedral where we saw the tombs of many British dignitaries & Royals including:  Elizabeth I, James I, Mary Queen of Scots and many more. We had a very good late lunch at Fullers Ale & Pie House in Westminster, I had a Steak Pie and a London Pride.  After eating we took the City Tours Thames River Cruise from Westminster to Tower Hill docks and back to Westminster.  Then it was just a short walk over to the new Battle of Britain Monument where we saw the name of our friend: Squadron Leader Donald MacDonell.  Very fitting since his wife was in our cruise group.  It was now time to get to the Victoria-Apollo Theater where we saw the musical Wicked. It was a very busy and enjoyable day in London. The next morning we took a car service (£95) from the hotel to London Heathrow and three of us were off on our flight to DFW and Texas.

Ship
Maiden Voyage: August 2002
Passenger Capacity: 2,244 (this cruise) | Length: 963 feet
Gross Tonnage: 88,000 tons  | Cruising Speed: 22 knots
As most ports were so close to each other the average speed on this cruise was only 10-12 knots during the day and night.  Always kept very clean and ship shape, but I will be glad that she will have her Carnival 2.0 upgrades before sailing her again next year.

Crew / Staff
All the crew and staff were very efficient and professional.  John Heald as a cruise director is always a bonus.  Wyan our cabin steward did a great job.  Noel our head waiter was wonderful. 

Cabin
We had cabin 8232 a category 8K with extended balcony.  We like this location as your only one deck below the Lido buffet or Serenity Bar for food, ice, drinks, etc.; however, there will also be some noise from the Lido above when the crew roll carts along the passageway.  The cabin is a standard Carnival  balcony cabin with: a three section wardrobe, full couch, mini bar refrigerator, swipe safe, older standard TV, and small stool for desk/vanity.

Food
The food on Carnival ships is usually ‘catch as catch can’ and this cruise was a catch.  The food was very good to excellent.  Also more menu choices such as Ossobuco, Fillet Mignon, NY Strip Steak, Lobster, Duck, and much more. There was a steak or a quality beef choice every night.  Excellent pasta dishes and the breads were great,  DW had room service breakfast each morning and it was delivered on time and correct.  My MDR breakfasts were all good.  Service was wonderful.

Highlights

All the ports both in Norway and Europe.
Great friends sailing with us.
Very good food on the ship and in ports.
Best Carnival cruise and best Carnival excursion ever!

Comments

It seemed to take me a long time to get this review written.  I believe it is because once I finish a review I am mentally on to my next cruise and the one just reviewed is forgotten or in the past.  I really didn’t want to put this cruise in the past so quickly.  I had more FUN and experienced so many new and wonderful things on this trip that it has to be by far the BEST cruise holiday I have ever taken.  It had so many different activities, excursions, and adventures that it was really hard to believe.  I would do it all again in a minute if I could.


The end of a GREAT cruise







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