‘Legend of the Seas’, a cruise ship that docked at Kochi recently, is an experience to be savoured
The eyes take a while to adjust to the psychedelic lights inside the ‘Casino Royale’. Winding through the dazzling maze of slot machines and video poker consoles, the sense of reality seems to slip away in small bouts. It comes back sure enough as a voice announces: “This is one of the most sought-after destinations on board the ‘Legend of the Seas’.” The roulette and blackjack tables, though unpeopled, seem straight out of a movie. The casino, we are informed, would function only when the ship is on sail.
Sleek and fast
This was just one of the wonders aboard the Legend of the Seas, a luxury cruise liner that touched Kochi shores last weekend. The vessel was on its 14-night Middle East cruise when it stopped over at Kochi for a day. One of the first “vision class” cruise ships owned by the Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Legend has a capacity of carrying 2,000 passengers. Though the smallest in the company’s fleet (about 867 ft in length with a beam measuring 105 ft), with 11 decks, the Legend is one of the fastest. On her 800th voyage, the Legend was on her first visit to the city, before heading to Dubai touching Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai.
The opulent interiors sprawled forth, unfurling something new to behold on every deck; unending plush carpeted floors and elaborate furnishings adding to the effect. “The vessel is rightfully referred to as a ‘floating resort’,” says Francois Wache, the hotel director of the ship. Recently refurbished to meet the growing standards of super-luxe liners, the spanking new Legend offers everything from accommodation to entertainment, relaxation and top class dining, he says. The grand central hall has been designed in such a way that a performance held in it can be watched by the guests on all the decks. Broadway-like musicals, special shows and cinema are part of the package with an entire entertainment wing living on board the Legend.
Dining was an experience by itself. The Windjammer Café, which affords a panoramic view of the coastline, laid out a variety of dishes. Tucking into a plateful of mashed potatoes, ham and crispy fried cheese sticks, one could gaze at Kochi, who now presented herself as an uneven arc beyond a glistening sheet of emerald-green waters. The Rainbow Bridge at Marine Drive seemed like a piece of origami art. “The floor-to-ceiling glass windows add to the fine dining experience,” says Wache.
Food lovers' delight
Feeding 2,000 guests is a challenge the hospitality section takes on with a smile, says Chef Arun George, who has been with the Royal Caribbean for sometime now. The catering crew, comprising 88 cooks and five sous chefs, rustles up about 10,000 meals a day. The kitchen, which works round the clock, is a five-part segment with separate hot and cold areas, a butcher shop, pastry and bakery sections. Chef George says 18 menus are served on board, including classical European, Caribbean and Asian. However, the menu is decided based on the profile of the passengers. The gargantuan rice boilers in the kitchen can cook about 400 kg of rice in one go, he explains. The experienced crew in a day whips up about 300 litres of sauce, 13,000 bread rolls and 800 litres of soup. The meats and fish are procured from a Miami warehouse and stored in the giant walk-in refrigerator. The dining hall, called the Romeo and Juliet, sprawls over two decks. Room service is also offered.
Apart from the state-rooms, the Legend has 20 suites and one royal suite. The pool is another favoured destination with a cocktail bar at the side and ample space for guests to sun themselves. For the more sporty kind, rock-climbing and mini-golf facilities have been set up.
Shopping for luxury products can be done at the arcade and for the fitness freaks, a gym has been provided. The four themed bars are an attraction with a separate disco for teenagers and a piano bar. An observation centre, the spa and solarium complete the deluxe picture.
The Legend, which has called at over 40 ports in the last four years, will head to the Caribbean in November for its southern Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings.