COMPARISON REVIEW OF GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS & CARNIVAL PRIDE
Having mainly cruised on ROYAL CARIBBEAN, we were on the GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS, 1/11/14, for a 10 night cruise, out of Baltimore, to the Western Caribbean. Having recently become Diamond Members, we looked forward to the amenities of that category, mainly the Diamond Lounge. When this cruise was over, we received an e-mail, from a discount travel agency, advertising a discount, last minute rate, on the Carnival PRIDE. Having never cruised on Carnival, & actually vowing that I never would unless it was free (rate was pretty close to that), looked further into it & booked it, departing Baltimore, 2/23/14, for 7 nights to Port Canaveral & the Bahamas. Really had no desire to get off the ship, as we’ve gone to those ports so many times, felt there really wasn’t anything new to see.
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: We arrived at the port, 1/11/14, at 10:15 a.m., & were onboard by 10:30. You first filled out the medical questionnaire as to whether or not you’d been recently sick or been around someone that had. Per usual, RCI had water, coffee, tea, cookies, & donuts, in the waiting area, for guests while waiting to board. Having recently had both knees totally replaced, walking up the 5 ramps is very difficult, if not impossible, for me, at this time. NO problem, as RCI allows handicapped or wheelchair passengers to go onboard, from ground level. We proceeded to the Windjammer for the Buffet. Our rooms were ready at 1 p.m. We went to the Windjammer, for the buffet. Our luggage was delivered to our stateroom in a timely manner. When it was time for the Muster Drill, due to my not being able to stand, for long periods of time, I was directed to sit in an area with others, that had similar handicaps. A crew member was present, taking down everyone’s room #, to make sure all rooms were accounted for, as the drill is mandatory. 4 p.m., promptly, the ship left port.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: Several days before boarding, we received an e-mail telling us boarding would not take place until 2 p.m. - 4 p.m., sailing at 5 p.m. The day before boarding, we received an e-mail telling us of the delays, due to traffic, in New Orleans, that would affect our CARNIVAL SUNSHINE cruise. This was immediately retracted, once they realized we weren’t going to be on the SUNSHINE! We arrived at the port at 10:30, thinking maybe we’d board before 2 p.m. Asked about boarding on the ground level, due to recent knee replacements & I was told, “all boarding is done with the ramps, that they’d have a wheelchair for me & someone from the ships staff would push it.” We were seated in an area that appeared we’d be one of the first to get on the ship. The area where they’d normally have drinks & cookies, etc., was covered over. There were water fountains, in the back of the room. There was no medical questionnaire, but at the desk when you checked in, they asked, “in the last 48 hrs. have you had vomiting or diarrhea?” In all honesty, I think most would say, “no” even if they had, for fear they wouldn’t get on the ship. Carnival has a program, where you can pay $50. Additional to board 2 hours before others. NOBODY boarded before 2 p.m. They had the priority boarding which, I guess, included those that paid additional, then wheelchair passengers. I felt very uncomfortable, having someone push me in a wheelchair. She was a rather petite person, & I’m NOT! She had NO idea how to push a wheelchair & when we arrived at the area where she would have to push it up the ramp, she took 1 look at the ramp & said, “oh no, I’m not going to do that” & walked away, leaving me sitting in the wheelchair. My husband called to the security guard who came over & was RUDE, saying there was nothing he could do, that it was the only way to get on the ship. We mentioned that RCI boards people with handicaps, on the ground level. He explained Carnival didn’t do that. The girl returned with another wheelchair passenger being pushed by a male & they switched places. He had no problem getting me to the inside of the ship. We were boarded by 2:30 p.m. We immediately went to the MDR (main dinning room) to speak to the maitre’d, requesting being switched to Your Time dining, instead of late, which we’d been assigned, due to the late booking of the cruise. He could make no promise, but said he’d put a note in our room mailbox, just outside our room, by 5 p.m. We found our room, then went to the Mermaid Grill, for the buffet. When we returned, we were pleased to find the luggage was already delivered to our room. It was announced that the mandatory Muster Drill would take place at 4:20 p.m. When we went, I explained my problem & was instructed to sit in an area, with others, having the same problems. 4:20 came & went, no drill had started. A crew member arrived to the area, we were sitting, & about 4:45, they had the Muster Drill. No one recorded any names or room #’s, which led me to think they really didn’t know if everyone was in attendance. The ship was due to leave port, at 5 p.m.
We did receive confirmation of the Your Time Dining, so at 5:45 p.m., we went to the MDR for dinner. At 6:15 p.m., the ship left port.
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: Our room was smaller than expected, 146 sq. ft. We’d paid extra for a “large inside room”. With the beds put together, forming a King bed, there was very little room, on both sides. We had to have our room Steward separate the beds, creating a larger center area, for getting in/out of the bed. The beds were so close to the floor, that to put the empty suitcases under the beds, we had to actually lift the beds. It was extremely difficult for me to get out of the bed. There was, however, ample closet & storage areas. The bathroom was small, but not too small. The shower was extremely small, with the shower curtain sticking to you, when in it. Our room service was exceptional.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: We were pleasantly surprised to find our room was larger than expected, 185 sq. ft. The beds were together, forming a King bed. The beds were high enough off the floor that we were able to put the empty suitcases under the beds with no difficulty. There was ample closet & storage areas. The bathroom was small, but not too small. The shower was larger than expected & there was ample room to move around, without the shower curtain sticking to you. Our room service was exceptional. Foil wrapped chocolates were on our bed, for us, every night, which I thought had been discontinued, on all the cruise ships.
MAIN DINING ROOM:
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: We had My Time Dining, as early as we could get it. Service was EXCELLENT.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: We had Your Time Dining, as early as we could get it. Service was good, but usually VERY SLOW.
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: We ate breakfast & lunch, & a couple of dinners, here. Was usually crowded, sometimes difficult to find a table. Service was EXCELLENT. Always asking if you needed anything, offering to carry your tray, etc. Constantly removing dirty dishes.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: We ate all breakfasts & lunch here, with the exception of 1 breakfast & also had 1 dinner here. Always ample tables, never crowded. Service was FAIR. Dirty dishes sitting on tables not being used. Frequently if you put a plate of food down, went to get something else, when you returned, it was GONE!
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: Selection was good, in both the MDR & Buffet, nothing to write home about. Coffee is quite strong.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: AWESOME! Fantastic selection, in the Buffet areas. Varied from day to day, Italian, Caribbean, Asian, Salad, Grill, UNBELIVEABLE PIZZA! Honestly, the BEST pizza I’ve ever had, including restaurants, on land! Orange juice actually had pulp in it, wasn’t watered down. Every morning, they had EGGS BENEDICT, some days with Canadian Bacon, others with Salmon. Every other day, had the BEST pan of STICKY BUNS you ever ate! Coffee was just right!
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: Their production shows were O.K., but seemed that the singers & dancers weren’t as good as previous cruises on RCI ships. GREAT pool band (for once, didn’t hear “I Shot The Sheriff” or “Yellow Bird”!) Other entertainment, throughout the ship was very good. Trivia seemed to be the same old questions/answers as previous cruises (some of the answers weren’t even correct!)
CARNIVAL PRIDE: FANTASTIC production shows! EXCELLENT singers & dancers. Really enjoyed the COMEDY CLUB, in Butterflies. Trivia was so so. They had the BEST Cruise Director, that we’ve ever encountered, on any ship! Thank you, KIRK for such a job well done!
AROUND THE SHIP:
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS: Considering this ship had just been in dry dock, being refurbished, I was totally amazed at how many things were in need of repair. Our first day, onboard, there was a leak, in the ceiling in the Windjammer, a bucket being put under it, which of course, people walked right into, because they don’t look where they’re going! It lacked in cleanliness which is far from what I’ve been accustomed to, with RCI! In other areas, there were leaks, with buckets under them, becoming full & overflowing, onto the decks. The large screen, out at the pool is certainly nice. Frequently showed movies, in the theater. The theater (where the production shows are) was very comfortable. The lounge areas, throughout the ship were nice. The aerial, in the CENTRUM were INCREDIBLE! Very well done. Able to view them, from various floors, throughout the CENTRUM areas. Throughout the 10 night cruise, there were 2 elevators that NEVER worked properly. RCI goes out of their way, to make you feel welcome on the ship, with the WELCOME ABOARD party, where appetizers & drinks are given.
CARNIVAL PRIDE: First impression: VERY NICE! Loved the Renaissance art, throughout the ship. Crew visibly cleaning, throughout the ship. Frequent movies being shown in BUTTERFLIES LOUNGE (usually very cold). The TAJ MAHAL (where the production shows are) seats were very uncomfortable, as there was very little leg room. In walking throughout the ship, going through lounges, frequently saw dirty bar glasses, sitting on tables. When walking back, noticed same glasses, still sitting. The P.A. system, throughout the entire ship was TERRIBLE! Very distorted sound. Frequently when a particular thing (D.J., for example) was scheduled at a certain area, either they never showed up, or showed up late. NO band at the pool, usually had a D.J., or nothing. Carnival also had a WELCOME ABOARD party, no appetizers, but a $1. discount on any drinks.
Please understand, all of the above is simply my opinion. I tried to be both HONEST & OBJECTIVE. I’ve most frequently sailed on RCI & intend to continue, having cruises already booked. This was our first cruise, on Carnival & we’ve already booked another, on the Pride.