My husband and I took this cruise in July of 2012 for our 25th Anniversary. We never sailed on Royal Caribbean before, but this cruise had the right number of days for us (9)..7 days we felt were too short and 12-14 days too long. Also, the itinerary took us to 4 ports in Italy, which is what we most wanted to see. The Grandeur of the Seas is an older ship, but to our good fortune, had just been refurbished. It looked pretty good. No noticeable flaws. It was clean and bright and small. We liked the feel of a small ship, having always cruised with our kids on the mini-cities. It was easy to get around and we didn't get lost. I booked this cruise via the Royal Caribbean website. I was looking for a balcony cabin, which we always take. If you can afford it, the extra couple of hundred dollars is well worth it. I feel that a balcony cabin gives you a little extra room and a spacious feeling. It is nice sitting on your patio just having a drink or reading a book without the hustle and bustle of the public areas. At the time of booking, I was offered an upgrade to a Junior Suite for $9 per person per day more. At less that $200 for the whole cabin, this was a bargain. The extra room was nice, but the best was having a full-sized shower and tub!
We booked our excursions through the cruise line because, not speaking the language in any of the countries we visited, we didn't want to run into trouble. As it was, the day we were in Pisa, another tour group came back two hours late because someone got lost and the ship had to wait. Imagine if you got lost while taking your own side trip. You'd be stuck! The tours were very good and fairly priced. We packed in full days wherever we went! The ports we visited were Venice (We came in a day early so that we could experience the beauty of Venice-walk the streets, take a gondola ride, eat the local cuisine..Our full day excursions included lunch and I was expecting maybe a slice of pizza, but we had whole meals with wine and dessert! Italy has fabulous food! Our next stop was Dubrovnik, then on to Montenegro (a country I had never heard of, but absolutely beautiful. We were supposed to go to Corfu, Greece, but the cruise line changed the itinerary about a month earlier. They never said why,
Montenegro was a happy surprise! Then, on to Naples, where we took tours of Capri, Sorrento and Pompei (all on one excursion), next day Rome, where honestly we could have done two days and still not have seen everything. After Rome, Pisa and Florence. I would recommend going to both Pisa and Florence, as Florence is a beautiful city and the only thing in Pisa is the Tower which takes a few minutes to see. Off again to Marsailles, France where we chose to go to Aix-In-Provence, another lovely small town and very French. We heard that Marsailles itself wasn't too safe. I don't know if this is true or not.
Our last stop was Palma de Mallorca, where we went straight to the airport. I wish we had stayed an extra day there. The only thing negative I can say about the trip is that the food on the ship was hit and miss. We ate in two specialty restaurants (at my husband's insistence) which were good, but not worth the extra money, but the food in the dining room was sometimes good and sometimes just passable.
The staff of the entire ship couldn't have been nicer. It was the first time the maitre d ever came to speak with us on any cruise we've taken. He was a very likable guy , very helpful and accommodating and we were even going to tip him, but on that last night at dinner, he was so busy, we just didn't see him. I would take Royal Caribbean again because for the value, it was definitely worth every penny! Hope this helps anyone interested in going.
We LOVED Venice. We flew in a day before the cruise left so that we could experience the many things Venice had to offer. Although exhausted because of the time change, we took a city tour which I booked via VIATOUR that included a gondola ride. It was amazing. If you have the time, spend at least two days in Venice. We barely got to enjoy the Piazza San Marco because we were so tired. The water taxis are easy to use and you can buy an all-day ticket. This little gem surprised us. We first took a bus ride, about 35 minutes, to a small town (I don't remember the name, it begins with a P), did a little walking, had pastry and coffee and then proceeded to a small church on an island, whose story was fascinating. Took the bus back to Kotor where we did some additional siteseeing on our own. Beautiful town and very nice people.