Let's get this out of the way early'I loved Grandeur. I'd roll the dice and book on her tomorrow if I could. But in fairness to the many members here who use these reviews as a part (however small) of their decision matrix, I'll set aside my RCI Fanboy card and discuss a few of the recurring Gremlins that seem to exist on this ship'the Odor Gremlins and the Plumbing Gremlins.
First and foremost I'd like to cover the biggest concern we had before boarding'the smells. If you peruse the reviews and threads regarding Grandeur you'll see numerous references to various smells. The two most often mentioned are a sewage type smell and a diesel fuel smell.
When I first read reviews and posts where people were repeatedly mentioning this, I was hesitant to book. After some consideration, though, my prevailing thought was that RCI is a good company and that there's no way they would allow a condition such as that go unresolved for nearly a year. So with the faith in RCI that they have certainly earned from me over the years, we booked.
The reports continued right up until we embarked. There really seemed to be no rhyme or reason. Some people reported smelling things, some didn't. Some only smelled it in halls, some in cabins, and some in the Centrum. There were reports from various areas on various decks. Several cruises had numerous reviews posted with no reports of smells at all or cruisers adamantly declaring that there were no bad odors to be found anywhere during their sailing.
So it was with a little nervous anticipation that we embarked nice and early on August 23rd. Upon making our way through the Centrum we immediately smelled the unmistakable odor of' diesel fuel. In less than a minute onboard, we had smelled one of the two variously reported gremlin odors.
A few hours later after some food and exploring, we headed to our cabin (4046) on the portside of Deck 4. Immediately upon entering the portside hallway of Deck 4 just forward of the Centrum we smelled that oft reported smell. Kind of a Mr. Bob-faint-odor-of-sewage smell. But a few seconds later as we traversed the hall, it was gone. We made it to our cabin where we were very relieved to find no smells whatsoever.
At that point I decided that I would do my best to narrow down exactly where and when the smells could be detected so I could at least try to have some definitive answers for the members who were either already booked or considering booking this ship.
After many purposeful test walks conducted in many areas throughout the week, here's what I can tell you:
The smell of diesel, I believe, was associated with fueling while at the port in Baltimore. We never smelled it again at any point for the duration of the cruise. It was only during that first day prior to sailing.
As for the sewage smell, we narrowed it down to Deck 4, port side of the ship, in the immediate area forward of the Centrum. We didn't smell it in the Centrum, and we couldn't detect it forward of cabin 4060. It really seemed to be concentrated in that area.
I never detected the smell on the starboard side of Deck 4. I walked Deck 2, Deck 3 and Deck 5 on both sides of the ship multiple times throughout the week and couldn't detect it there either.
But it was there on the portside of Deck 4 between the Centrum and 4060 virtually every time. Sometimes it was very faint, sometimes a little stronger'but we smelled it every time. It was never overpowering. It was usually just enough that you realized it was there, but we never found it unnoticeable.
So, at least for this sailing, that's where it seemed to be centralized. There are some utility looking rooms in that area, so I imagine that's where it's coming from.
The plumbing gremlins made several appearances throughout the week, but, fortunately for us, never in our cabin. On Day 2 (iirc) my older daughter walked out of the theater to use the bathroom in between the casino and theater and was stopped before entering by a woman who told her not to go in because it was flooded. She looked down to see water beginning to flood out of the bathroom. I'm not sure what the issue was that time. It could have just been a single toilet issue as opposed to a systemic plumbing issue.
The next morning I left our cabin to find two industrial blower/dryers in the hall of Deck 4 and a large wet spot on the carpet near the Centrum. I didn't learn until reading another member's review that a pipe apparently broke and flooded several cabins (two badly enough that the passengers needed to be relocated to other cabins). It also seems from a few members' posts that several people had hot water problems during our sailing. We also talked to several cruisers who reported toilet issues (not flushing at all, delayed flushing). We were fortunate and didn't have any plumbing or hot water issues in our cabin.
Hopefully that portion of the review is helpful for some people.
My next observation of interest was the food. We ate in the MDR and forewent the specialty dining. Having just sailed Freedom of the Seas last month, we found the new menu to be wonderful and had really enjoyed the food on Freedom more than on any of our previous sailings.
Needless to say, we had high expectations going in to this cruise. This was our first lesson in the variations between ships. Despite having the same exact menu, we found the food on Grandeur was not as good as Freedom. We ordered all of our favorites from the Freedom sailing and found that it just wasn't as good.
While taste is certainly subjective, we found that where everything on Freedom came out perfectly cooked, our food on Grandeur came out a little undercooked here, a little overcooked there. Occasionally a little too much flavor here, a little too bland there. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that the food on Grandeur was inconsistent. Some things were great, some were meh. On Freedom it was all great.
Please don't misunderstand; we enjoyed our food on Grandeur. We certainly ate it all. We just felt like there was some unrealized potential there. Again, this only applies to the MDR.
That ends my constructive criticism.
My RCI Fanboy card is back in hand. Grandeur is physically in wonderful shape. She looks beautiful after her planned (and unplanned) revitalizations.
The crew was among some of the best we've had the pleasure of sailing with. Captain Holm was wonderful. Remember this name'Darryl Dyball is by far the best Activities Manager we have ever seen. This guy is electric. He will be an epic Cruise Director someday (and outshined the Cruise Director on this sailing, imo).
Our stateroom attendant Mauricio was one of our favorites from any cruise, and our waiter and assistant waiter Gershom and George were wonderful people and we really enjoyed their service.
As always, the entertainment was top notch.
The wifi coverage was great (and fast).
I also want to mention that our embarkation and disembarkation from the port in Baltimore was quick and flawless for the second year in a row. Even though I prefer sailing out of Florida for weather, seas, and vacation feel, if you're anywhere near Baltimore it is a port well worth considering.
So after all that gremlin talk I'll reiterate'the whole family loved Grandeur and had a wonderful cruise (as soon as we got home, we were online seeing if we could sneak back on this fall and get on one of the last Bermuda sailings of the year).
She is a wonderful ship and has a wonderful crew. My hope is that RCI will give her the last little bit of TLC that she and they deserve to chase away the gremlins.
Quick and flawless embarkation and disembarkation.
Reasonable parking rates.