At 94, Madam Man Tak Ching was far too busy playing mahjong with three of her three daughters on Legend of the Seas’ Solarium pool deck to chat. The cruise 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 Bali.
Half the size of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager-class ships, Legend carries 1,800 passengers, and we’re onboard for a two-night taster cruise. It’s a familiar sight in the waters around Asia, having homeported in Singapore for many years. The ship underwent a US$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 Café is buffet-style with salads, chilli 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 like at the 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 and a 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 coffee at Café Latté-tudes will set you back US$4.75.
Legend of the Seas looks her age, but the passengers on board this cruise are younger and looking to enjoy all the bells and whistles onboard, even if just for a few days.
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.
CRUISE LINE: Royal Caribbean International
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.