This was my second cruise on the Grandeur but may as well have been my first. Nothing seemed familiar at all but that's not a bad thing.
I loved the small size of the ship; the atrium was a pleasant sight/comfortable location where I spent a good amount of time. Enjoyed the Christmas decorations (beautiful tree); activities staff was engaging and offered just the right amount of interaction for my taste. I would gladly book again this ship out of Baltimore in December.
Transportation – Amtrak from Lynchburg, VA to Baltimore BWI Station round trip. Nice, clean car on way up. Homeward bound train was delayed leaving the station and then further delayed en route—approximate two-hour delay overall. Sat in a car that had water dripping from overhead and doors that wouldn't stay closed (cold) so it was not the most comfortable ride home. Although still better than a flight or driving personal vehicle.
Hotel – Pre/post-cruise at Holiday Inn BWI on Elkridge Landing Road—would definitely stay there again. Front desk staff were professional and very accommodating. Local area transport via their shuttle van was very much appreciated!!!!
Embarkation – Purposely arrived at the port after 13:00. The transfer of luggage from the taxi to the port personnel was effortless. Completed the health questionnaire before getting in line and once in 'regular' line there were no more than three people ahead of me. The check-in rep was attentive, efficient. I had marked my online check-in form that I would be using cash for my shipboard account although I was unsure whether RCI can handle the cash in the terminal or if a trip to Guest Services on board was warranted. The rep confirmed cash cannot be handled in the terminal so not wanting to face another line that day, I gave her my credit card. I did ask the rep what the initial amount of the authorization (aka hold) is on my card but she did not have the answer. This information should be readily available upon request by a guest just like it is when you ask at a hotel. Other than that missing bit of info, check-in was painless. Seapass photo was taken right at the counter so one less stop to make between there and the ship.
There was a separate line for those not wishing to pose for a Welcome Aboard photo. I do not have a problem saying no to the photographers but it was a bonus to simply walk on past the display with no one motioning me over for the photo.
I was carrying two overloaded tote bags which slowed me down in getting up that never-ending gangway/ramp which ended on Deck Four or Five (don't recall which level). Next time I cruise out of Baltimore, I'll be in better shape and/or lessen my carry-on load.
Dining Room Seating – I originally booked for My Time Dining; changed to 8:00 Assigned Seating a month or so later; then, about a month before sailing I decided I wanted back with My Time which was now in wait list status. Upon boarding I went to the dining room to inquire about the status of My Time. Unfortunately, it was not available—no worries; never hurts to ask. I did learn that I was assigned to a four-top in the middle of the lower level for the 8:00 seating. Nice location but as a solo traveler on this cruise I was hoping for a larger table. I asked for a change and was reassigned to a 10-top. However, as opportunities arose and time went on I never did make it to dinner in the Main Dining Room.
Cabin – I booked inside guarantee and was delighted with the location of my cabin. Not sure why bed placement (together/apart) is an option on the RCI (or actually on any cruise line) profile page if the information is never relayed to the ship. When I cruise solo I prefer the beds apart as it allows for more floor space but once again the beds were together upon arrival. The cabin was as small as I remembered but still had enough space for my luggage in the closet; plenty of clothes hangers; plenty of drawers; and, the settee was quite useful.
Room Service – disappointing service. Long story short--I called three times; order was delivered two hours after my initial order was placed. I was sent a complimentary plate of chocolate-covered strawberries along with my original order. I would have preferred a simple apology.
Food – Enjoyed one dinner at Chops; one dinner at Giovanni's; one lunch at Izumi; two breakfasts in the dining room; one lunch in the dining room; and all other meals in Windjammer. Initially I wasn’t fond of the Windjammer. Then I tried the pork roast from the carving board and all the steamed vegetables. Some of the best cauliflower dishes ever, and I liked all the different dishes that used the pork. I'm not much for desserts but couldn't resist the chocolate chip cookies that I always found in Windjammer.
Ports – I usually plan months in advance for my port activities. I was raised in Florida and I grew up on cruises to the Bahamas so this time around I decided to make no plans at all. I found a chair on the bow, deck 10 and that was my spot while in port. Except that I did go ashore on Coco Cay for all of one hour (including tender transfer time). I stopped at the info center on the island and asked for a quiet stretch of beach with swimming. When I got to the end of the path I found I had been directed to an extremely kid-friendly section—far from my request. It was hot, I found a beverage shack with a surly bartender; put my feet in the water; and headed back to the tender station. Chatted with some really nice fellow passengers while waiting on the tender. Back on board the ship, headed to deck 10 and all was right with the world.
Room Steward - service was substandard. Simple things like: no tissue paper in cabin for first 1.5 days; I had to ask for a roll of bathroom paper as it was never restocked. The first day I told him I only ask for two items: ice morning and evening and towels once a day. Down to the last night and I was still asking for ice every single day. Extremely pushy on the last evening with numerous requests for me to tell his employer he did a good job.
Bar Service - I couldn't give my money away on day one to get an adult beverage. I realize it was cold, rainy outside so the masses crowded the R Bar and Schooner Bar. RCI should have planned accordingly—it's not their first winter out of Baltimore. Outside beverage service on deck 9 or 10 once we hit warm weather—again, I've got money to spend but no one coming around to take a drink order. The towel girl got me a server on one occasion so she got his tip (well, actually he got his 'built-in' 15%, and I tipped her cash). Even when I went directly to the bar and said I'm sitting in 'this location', please send a server around every hour or so, and was told no problem, no wait staff ever came by. Too bad for RCI—my Seapass and cold, hard cash were just waiting to be spent. Exception was Caesar who served in the South Pacific Lounge—thank you!
Guest Services – any question/request (I never presented with a problem/complaint) was always met with a smile and an answer. Monica was my favorite agent on the desk. If she didn't know the answer to my question, she wasn't long in consulting with someone who did have an answer. Great service by shipboard guest relations which had been missing from my previous cruises with RCI.
Entertainment – ship singers/dancers—can they even be classified as such? Seriously, worst ever. I enjoyed the aerial show and the first comedian. I believe those were the only shows I attended so 2 out of 3 isn't so bad, I suppose.
Activities – thoroughly enjoyed the entire staff of this department with a big nod to Darryl.
Announcements – next to none. Well done, Grandeur.
Debarkation – smoothest of all my cruises. No announcements at the crack of dawn inside the cabin and quite honestly I don't remember any announcements in the hallway. I was able to grab a bite of breakfast in Windjammer, return to cabin to pick up my tote bags, and when I got to the Palladium Theatre at my appointed time I was told I could immediately walk off via deck 1 or 4. Not one bit of waiting—excellent. Only disappointment (minor at that) came in the terminal after passing through customs—the porter would not take my tote bag and proceed with me to pick up my checked bags. He told me I would need to first locate my bags and then wave a porter over for service. Hello, my tote bag was heavy, my checked bags were on the far end of the terminal so I needed assistance at the moment not later. Again, can't give my $$ away!
SeaTurtle12 at yahoo dot com – always happy to talk cruising!