The ship was recently renovated, and felt brand new! Ours was only the second cruise after the renovation. Improvements included essentially re-doing all the staterooms, adding specialty restaurants and many others.
Before going on the cruise we signed up for the "Meet and Mingle" Roll Call. One of the best moves I have ever made! Before getting on the ship, we "knew" about 35 other cruisers! We had made plans for all the ports (none of which included a cruise company shore excursion).
Positives: The ship is in excellent condition and looks beautiful. Enforcement of not bringing alcohol on board is spotty at best, which is good. We managed to have our own bottle of wine at every dinner except one, and the wait staff opened it for us with no charge for corkage!
Negatives: No self-help laundry, not even an iron. Our cabin steward told us that Royal Caribbean is all about making money. Food in the main dining room good but not as gourmet as I remember from More
earlier cruises. I think gourmet food is now saved for the "specialty" restaurants, so RCI can make more money. Wait staff is tasked with more that I recall from previous cruises, so service is a little worse.
Overall, the experience was delightful. We got along extremely well with our dinner table-mates, and enjoyed meeting new people at breakfast and lunch open seating. In addition we had our 35-strong CruiseCritics family! It was like being part of a big group and yet independent. The ports we visited were Kotor (Montenegro), Athens, Kusadasi (Turkey), Bodrum (Turkey), Santorini and Split (Croatia). We were also scheduled to dock at Mykonos but could not because of high winds. Excellent ports with lots to see. Less
Grandeur of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
With fellow CruiseCritics Roll Call members, we did a Rick Steves-guided walk through the heart of Athens and then the Acropolis. Not having seen the Acropolis before, we were absolutely blown away by what the Ancients had accomplished. Pictures at:
Cruise company provided shuttles to the Castle of St Peter. However, the frequency was very low, about 3-4 shuttles each way all day! Not too long a walk, but it was HOT. The castle is interesting and has a wonderful collection of antiques recovered from shipwrecks.
We did this on our own. Walked up the old town wall to the top for beautiful views and then came back and saw the old town. No need for a guided tour unless you absolutely have to know the history and significance of everything. Our pictures are at:
Rushed tour. Supposed to be all day, but we were done with over an hour to spare.
Ephesus is incredible - here is a link to some pictures:
Good tour but expensive - 800 euros for 14 people for a 5-hour tour. The vehicle had room for 22 so when we added two, the company asked for 100 euros more(!) but eventually relented and did not charge any extra. Santorini is beautiful. We rode up on the donkeys - enjoyed it. Went down on the funicular. Walked around the little town after the tour.
Six of us took a taxi to Krka National Park for a round-trip cost of 250 euros including the wait at the park. We spent about three hours at the park. After a few days of old towns and ruins, we thoroughly enjoyed the natural scenery and the amazing waterfalls.