THE PARTICIPANTS: I suppose that knowing a little about us would help to frame our review. The passenger manifest for this cruise was my wife and her adoring and loving husband (that is me) and our son. We are both in our mid 40’s, and no you cannot know which one is older, but I will give you a hint, it’s not me. Our son is 3 years and 11 months. This was our first ever cruise.
THE PLANNING: We were searching for an easy, stress-free vacation, and a friend suggested a cruise. We decided to sail out of Baltimore as we live within driving distance. Also, we picked the shortest cruise possible (in case we did not like cruising). This led up to the 6-night cruise to Bermuda on the Grandeur.
THE ARRIVAL: Driving to the port in Baltimore was very easy, as was checking in and boarding. I do have to make two comments first, there was kind of a hard sell on the dining packages. The second was that getting on early is not such a great thing, as many things are closed till 1pm. This is not an issue for most people, but my son has infinitely less patience than his parents, and it was hard finding things to occupy his time while we waited two hours to get into our rooms.
THE ROOM: At 1 pm we headed down to our room. We booked a Grand Suite (8514). We loved this room, although you did hear chairs being moved up on the pool deck. And, the only maintenance issue we had was the lock on the balcony door it broke about day 4. You could close the door, but it would not lock. This cabin is located near the front of the ship, and is very close to everything one flight up is pool deck and WJ, two flights up in Adventure Ocean, two flights down is Palladium and shops.
THE SHIP & CREW: We thought the ship looked beautiful. She is elegant and classy. The crew was also very friendly and helpful. Our cabin steward, Mary Joy, was super nice and very friendly. The concierge, Francis, was fantastic. We had great experiences with several other members of the crew, but I am terrible with names. One highlight was the officer’s reception in the Viking Lounge. Francis told us to bring our son, and because we did, we were able to take picture of him with the captain.
THE FOOD: We managed to eat the first night at the MDR, but part way through our main course, our son told me that he was done, and that he wanted to go right now. We tried to go once more, but he was not having it, so in the interests of our fellow guests, we opted for the WJ the rest of the cruise. In the end, we did not mind the food in the WJ was fantastic. They had a variety of things to choose from; it was clean and never crowded, and most of all, you could sit outside and see the ocean. We did get to eat at Izumi one night, and it was fantastic. I am not fan of sushi, so had the hot rock. My wife has sushi and loved it.
THE ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES: We only managed to catch three shows Beatlemania, the Rythym & Rhyme show, and the comedian on the last night. All the shows were great.
THE KIDS CLUB & ACTIVITIES: We knew that there would be relatively few children on board, and there were. I would estimate that there were less than 25 children under 11 on board, and perhaps about that many teenagers. Our first time dropping off our son at AO was fine, but he was the only one in there for about 2 hours, so he was not that enthused to go back in again until he met some of the other kids, and after that, if there were other kids in the club, he could not wait to go back in. He also loved the pool he met almost every child his own age, and a few of the older ones at the pool. The Grandeur has a section that is very shallow and fenced off from the deeper portion, and most of the younger children just played in here. You would think that there is not that much to do in a little splash pool, but when you are sailing, there are waves in there and the kids loved it.
THE JOURNEY & PORT: We discovered that we are "sea days” people. We loved being at sea! The first day out we hit rough seas, and many people were feeling under the weather, but we loved it. Bermuda is beautiful. We hit some rain the first and second days in port, which limited how much time we spent on the island, but we saw enough to know we want to go back again someday.
COMING HOME & LEAVING: This was a piece of cake. We went up to the CL, and Francis walked us off around 8am. Even with heavy traffic on 95 and 695, we still managed to get home by 10am. My wife and son did not want to leave, so pulling them off the ship was the hardest part.
IN SUMMARY: For our first cruise, we did not know what to expect, but we all loved it. Our son had so much fun in the pool, meeting other kids, eating at WJ and watching the waves, and the kids club. In fact, we liked it so much, we booked another cruise on Grandeur for their Thanksgiving cruise in 2014.