We really love Bermuda and a cruise is the cheapest way to travel there. This was our sixth visit to Bermuda
This was my 24th cruise and probably almost my last cruise - three of our previous cruises were on RCCI. Previous Cruises: (for me - age 75 at the start of the cruise )
Travel to embarkation Port and Hotel information
We drove up to the port a day in advance and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Linthicum. All Hampton Inns, have a free breakfast and free wi-fi. We had the cruise package which included free parking for the week (don't try this at the inner harbor Hampton Inn as they don't have free parking, but the one at the airport does) and a shuttle to and from the port. I like the Hampton Inn and the cruise package worked (as my husband said) "Like a charm".
Embarkation: Usually Port Maryland is a very nice port to cruise from, but this time it was less satisfactory. They made Bob give them his little tiny pen knife. Why I don't know since the ship is fully equipped with steak knives should one wish to hijack the ship with a knife. They also made him dump the water out of one of the water bottles (but only one of the four). They wanded me but I could have had a dozen knives in my pocketbook because they did not look at that. Wheelchairs boarded at deck one, but since I had a powered vehicle, I had to go up the ramp, but the scooter didn't have any problem with this. We were on before we could go to our room, and also before the Windjammer was open (lack of schedule coordination).
The lifeboat drill directions were on the TV, but they did not say whether we needed to bring our life jackets. The cruise director did say eventually that we did not need them, but since the announcements didn't go into the cabin, I had to be alert to open the cabin door so we could hear what he was saying. The scooter could get out on the Promenade deck for the drill, but they put me back against the wall so I couldn't see anything. And I had to lift the scooter over the threshold to get off the promenade deck because it was too steep in that direction.
We had a nice sail down the bay and two of the Baltimore news helicopters (WjZ and WBAL) flew over the ship as we were leaving.
Ship information. We have been on Grandeur before. Since the refurbishment, the decor was less depressing. The cruise left Friday about 4 pm and got to Bermuda about 3 pm on Sunday. The weather going over was somewhat rough and the pool was closed. We had to be back on the ship by 3:30 on Tuesday. It was also expected to be rough on the way back, but it wasn't so bad. The captain's announcements were very hard to understand.
They had the photographer set up in the elevator area. This made if very difficult for people in wheelchairs, walkers, canes and scooters to get to the elevators. There should be some other place to put her so that she isn't in the way.
Activities. We did not do any activities except for the cruise critics meeting. The cruise director running it did not have us get up an introduce ourselves so that we could identify others in the group by sight. Because it was rough weather we couldn't circulate that much because it was difficult to walk, but we could at least have said our names. We did have name tags and drnks and there was a raffle.
Service - The waiters at our table for dinner did a good job of taking care of us. Our cabin steward was also good.
But the service in the Windjammer was absolutely abysymal. Since I can't stand very long without pain, I use a scooter, and in only two instances did someone offer to help me (and one of those times wasn't in the Windjammer but was at lunch in the Great Gatsby dining room.) It is not possible to hold a plate and a drink or a cup of soup and still steer a scooter. Some people just defaulted to having the person traveling with them bring them their food. But I like to look at the food first to decide what I want, and I don't want my husband to have to wait on me. He shouldn't have to do that - he has to do enough of that as it is. Also the labels were too high for me or even a shorter person to see them. One lady said she had to ask her husband if she couldn't see them by standing on her tiptoes.
The other problem was the TV. It was a nice flat screen TV, but the channel with the bow camera and the ship information was out of focus for the whole cruise. Also there was very little to watch on the TV. There were about four foreign language channels, another five channels advertising RCCI cruises or excursions or shops, and then International CNN and International HNN, a cartoon channel, and re-runs of Seinfeld, Friends and the Big Bang Theory. This meant that we could not get any US news or even US weather. The weather report on HNN didn't even have the temperatures for Washington D.C.
We had a little piece of paper which told us what discounts our level of Crown & Anchor were entitled to. The only one I was interested in was the internet. I had to go to the computer cafe to sign in, and then configure my computer to use the RCCI wi-fi (which I could use in the cabin - and the internet was fairly fast). The $400 package was 25 cents a minute, and I was entitled to a discount if I signed up on the first day. But there was no way I could tell if they had given it to me or not until I got my final bill.
Dining - we had a a lovely group of people to eat dinner with and our dining steward's birthday was the same as mine (Monday) but she was 50 years younger. I felt that the seating of people at breakfast and lunch was slow and inefficient, and also that service in the dining room tended to be slow. The food was good, but I thought the extra price items on the menu were ridiculous and we did not get any. Nor did we go to any of the extra price restaurants. I like to drink cranberry juice and I know that Grandeur doesn't have it, so I brought my own with me.
Disembarkation - the disembarkation lecture was on the TV, but failed to mention what time we have to vacate the cabin. We got our luggage tags on the last day. I do not know how they assign the times, but we were to get off at 8:10. It went smoothly - Bob got his pen knife back, and our shuttle took us back to our car.
Summary: We went on this cruise because we love to go to Bermuda and it is cheaper to do it on a ship than it is to fly and stay on land. Also it is most convenient to leave from Baltimore. Currently the only way we can do this is to sail on Grandeur of the Seas.
For the rest of the time in Bermuda, we hired a blue flag guide (Lewis Foggo) who was very helpful and knowledgeable. We had an itinerary of places that we wanted to go and he helped us with this.
Since this was our sixth trip to Bermuda, we did not take any ship excursions except for the Horse and Carriage ride around the Dockyard area on Friday. This was very enjoyable.