A year on from the loss of Ocean Village to the world of cruising, and the popular cruise line has being missed by many. Ocean Village offered a British-style cruise, but in a very informal and relaxed way and with great sun-filled destinations.
Ever since the decision to close down the cruise line, her former — and loyal — passengers have been looking for a replacement. Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Thomson Cruises have all been offered as good alternatives, which they are, but they are still just missing something.
Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises' ships are much bigger, with the popular Independence of the Seas carrying 4,000+ passengers and P&O's Ventura and Azura home to some 3,600 passengers for each ship. Both cruise lines offer a great choice of formal and informal dining and entertainment and great itineraries, but Ocean Village's ships were completely informal, a lot more casual, smaller and due to all of this, often much cheaper.
Thomson Cruises have also made an effort to give the Ocean Village customers a good alternative, and with their casual British-style cruising, relaxed approach and similar 3* standards, you would think they'd be a great fit. But with slightly older ships and their own atmosphere onboard, they too haven't quite captured Ocean Village's loyal fans' imaginations.
So, you are thinking, you've ranted on now for four paragraphs with little to offer that we don't already know. But, here's the good news. Carnival are returning to Europe in 2013 including Med sailings from Dover! Okay, so Carnival may be American-style cruising, but their modern fleet, fun-filled ships and reasonable bar prices could be just the ticket.
At 2,100 passengers the Carnival Legend is slightly larger than the 1,600 passenger Ocean Village 1 and the 1,700 passenger Ocean Village 2, but Carnival Legend is also 15 years younger than Ocean Village 1. The ship has been one of the cruise line's long standing favourites, hence sending her to Europe in the hope of bringing along a few regular passengers as well as attracting new ones.
Carnival essentially offers a similar level of service and style of holiday to Ocean Village, just on a larger scale, with 23 ships carrying from 2,000 to 3,500+ passengers onboard. They offer flexible dining, the dress code is resort casual — so not quite shorts and t-shirts for dinner, but relaxed nonetheless — though there are usually a couple of formal nights onboard, where you can break into anything from shirt and tie, to a full tuxedo or cocktail dress if you wish. Though, if putting a tie or dress on, isn't quite up your street, there are casual dining venues to choose from, such as the 24 hour pizzeria or the Lido buffet.
Carnival Legend is a great ship for a family holiday and boasts 16 lounges, indoor and outdoor promenades and an 1,800 square ft children's play area. Throw in a couple of pools, plenty of evening entertainment — from comedy nights or musicians in the Red Frog pub, to full blown productions in the theatre — a fantastic kids programme and all the amenities you would expect onboard a mid-sized ship.
The prices onboard with Carnival are great value too, though with the ship being American-style, there are daily gratuities to pay (though these can usually be adjusted to your preference). Just to give you a idea a bottle of Miller or Budweiser will set you back $4.75 (about £3), while a 16oz (about a pint) of Guinness of Grolsch will set you back $5.25 (around £3.35) and a can of soft drink will cost you $1.95 (about £1.25). These prices may not be as cheap as your local, but compared to city centre or resort prices — you can easily pay £6 a pint in a ski resort — they are pretty good value.
So, Carnival Legend may be American, a little larger, a little louder and with a lot more choice, but it's as close to Ocean Village as you'll find. The newer ship means spas, greater cabin selection and better facilities, though you may have to put on a shirt and tie once or twice for dinner. With Carnival Legend arriving back in European water and, more importantly, sailing form Dover in 2013, she's a great a great ship to take your next casual, fun-filled cruise with.
Carnival Legend's 2013 cruise deals.
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