This was our second cruise on GRANDEUR. DW and I previously sailed on board in 2008 to Bermuda from Norfolk. I was impressed with the consistency of service and overall quality over five years later, including a 2010 on JEWEL OF THE SEAS.
A big disappointment was the increased amount of promotion for add-on services at additional costs, including specialty restaurants, beverage packages, photo packages, etc. One of the subtle differences is the reference to standard dining room meals (Gatsby and Windjammer) as "complimentary." The port shopping consultant was fairly blatant about promotion of the selected shops on shore. He bragged about his years of experience on cruises, yet could not answer a question about Nevis. And the ship is showing its age in the nooks and crannies. On the last few days of the cruise I did see deck crew out and about painting.
We tried My Time dining and selected a standard 6:15 time for all nights. We sat at table 587, a table for two at the back of the dining room. It was the same table we had on our 2008 cruise on GRANDEUR. Service from Cipriano and Ruel was excellent. The were very attentive, although Cipriano never did figure out that we don't care for fresh pepper on our food. This dynamic duo entertained us with napkin folding tricks including mice, swans and a chicken, and also did magic tricks. My only dining comment is the vegetable du jour was actually the vegetable du cruise: carrots, broccoli, asparagus and squash served in the same way each night. As for the Windjammer, well - it was the Windjammer. Not spectacular, but nothing offensive either. We tried the Park Cafe a few times and enjoyed the sandwiches.
We had three formal nights (the website listed two for a 10-day cruise) and the rest of the nights were casual attire. I like the tradition of formal nights, but the dress code even on those nights was pretty casual, even in the main dining room.
Ports of Call were new to us except for San Juan. We did a self tour to Nevis at St. Kitts, ships tour at Tortola, walked around San Juan and sat on the beach at Labadee. Regarding Labadee, I was not expecting much based on visits to Coco Cay and Great Stirrup Cay - and was pleasantly surprised at the facilities. It was nice to walk off the ship vs tender. The lunch buffet was not a mad rush and we shared a picnic table in the shade. I took a yoga class on the beach and that was a highlight.
Our cabin was a standard balcony cabin on the starboard side. Hank offered attentive service. The room worked well for us.
Ship entertainment was very good. Darryl and Jerry were a great team. The shows and guest entertainers were good - the comedians were a great improvement over this we saw in 2010 on JEWEL. As for the Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme show - can someone tell me what shows most of the songs came from? After a tease with Sound of Music, West Side Story and Chicago, the songs wandered off into what I would call "back of the 45" for those of us of a certain age. We also enjoyed watching the thriller lessons and final performance. Quest and the 70's party did not disappoint again.
Overall this was a good cruise. We'll likely sail again with Royal Caribbean in the future and overlook the increasingly promotional side of things by staying out on the balcony more.
What a nice surprise after the chaos on Coco Cay. It was great to walk off the ship. We sat on the ocean side. If you go swimming watch out for the seaweed and rocks underwater.
We walked around San Juan. There are some great small shops in town including a linen store and an small art gallery, both on San Francisco St. There is a CVS near the pier.
We took the ferry ($20 each, round trip) to Nevis and rented a cab ($50 for two hours). Stops included two churches, a beach, and the pottery. It was nice to visit an island that has been undisturbed by Diamonds International and commercialization. The ferry is a short walk from the pier at St. Kitts. The ferry schedule only allowed us two hours on Nevis.