Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review by gailcanoe: Grander of the Seas compared to Carnival Pride
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Grander of the Seas compared to Carnival Pride
From June 13-20, 2014, my husband and I sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas from Baltimore to Port Canaveral, FL and the Bahamas. This was our 4th cruise, but our first on a Royal Caribbean ship.
We had previously only sailed on Carnival ships. Our first cruise was on the Carnival Holiday out of Mobile, AL in 2005. We also sailed on the Carnival Pride twice out of Baltimore in 2010 and 2012. We had decided to give Royal Caribbean a try and go out of a familiar port (Baltimore) and take a familiar route in order to provide the best comparison between the two cruise lines.
In terms of the embarkation process, Royal Caribbean was a clear winner. We arrived at the Port of Baltimore at 10:15 and we were through security and had our Sail Pass by 10:25. At 10:30 when boarding started, we were among the first 50 people on board and were met with friendly crew members and knowledgeable staff. While I don’t remember exactly how long we waited for our More previous Carnival cruises, I know that the wait was much longer than 15 minutes.
Another plus in the Royal Caribbean side was the all-you-can-drink package. This was not an option when we had cruised with Carnival (although it may be now, I haven’t checked). It was nice to not worry about how much money we were spending on drinks and to just enjoy ourselves. On previous Carnival cruises, we had charged a large bar tab by the end of the cruise and we felt that we got our money’s worth out of this purchase. Plus, the drinks were mixed much stronger than those we had gotten on Carnival cruises in the past. As an additional note, we had the Premium package that was listed at $55 per day per person and included well drinks, beer, wine, bottled water, soda and frozen drinks.
We were impressed with the electronic touch-screen boards located throughout the ship to help find things to do, check out the restaurant menus, and determine how to navigate around the ship.
Carnival came out on top in terms of the entertainment options. The Grandeur of the Seas was a small ship and there were very few options of things to do. While there were lots of things listed on the daily schedule, most of them were geared towards an older (50+ crowd). My husband and I are in our mid-30s. There were at least 3 daily trivia and 6 daily BINGO games, but not a lot of other options for our age group. This was especially true at night when everything seemed to close around 9 or 10 pm. This included almost all food options as well. The only place to get food after 9 pm was in Park Café which was small and not self-serve and there were few choices for food available. In terms of entertainment, the casino was open late as was the dance club, but neither of those options appealed to us especially since the nightclub was mostly attended by the 18-29 crowd. The only other option open after 9 pm was the Piano bar. Thankfully, this was something we enjoyed and we became regulars there. But, it would have been nice to have another option for food and entertainment late into the night. On previous Carnival cruises, we had access to late-night buffets and multiple entertainment options including a sports-bar, comedy club, mini-golf, and Piano bar. Sadly, there were just not many options available on the Grandeur of the Seas if you wanted to stay up past 9 pm.
Also, speaking of entertainment, the Royal Caribbean website noted that the Grandeur of the Seas had a 1960’s themed R Bar, a Champagne Bar and an ice-rink. None of those existed on the ship in actuality. The website needs to be fixed to reflect this.
Another issue that is incorrect on the website is the laundry costs. The website said that the fee was $1.75 for each shirt to be ironed, but the on-board price sheet was $3.95 per shirt. Again, the website needs to be updated.
And, one more issue to address on the website has to deal with getting a copy of the bill (folio) following the cruise. There is no way to access this online and we were not given a copy (as promised) before disembarking. I had to call the 800 number and get the bill emailed to me after we returned.
On-board advertising for entertainment was also misleading. A late-night comedy show that started at 10 pm in the Palladium was advertised to be adults-only, but was changed to be family-friendly without a ship-wide announcement and was very disappointing.
Another area that was not as advertised as the Solarium (the adults-only pool and area). I was not impressed. First of all, it was not actually adults-only as it was advertised to be. There were a number of kids there at all hours, especially since the Park Café that was located there was the only late-night food option after 9 pm. But, there were even kids there during the daytime hours. Also, the room was unbearably hot and the roof was only retracted one day out of the 7 that we were on board. The other 6 days were like an oven because of all the glass that intensified the heat. On the Carnival Pride, the adults-only area and pool was strictly off-limits to children. There were no exceptions and it was quiet and peaceful and it was also open and allowed air to circulate.
Carnival also came out on top in terms of the food. The Royal Caribbean food was not bad, but the quality was not up to par with the food that we’d had on Carnival cruises. There were many nights that we could only find one main entrée item of interest in the Main Dining Room. In comparison, on previous Carnival cruises, there were many nights that we wanted to order multiple entrees because we couldn’t pick just one. Also, the lack of late-night food options on the Grandeur of the Seas was a major disappointment.
I attended a couple of scrapbook and card-making workshops on the Grandeur of the Seas and found them to be fun. We also enjoyed the musical performance of “Voiceplay” and we took advantage of the big screen on the pool deck to watch World Cup Soccer games as well as a couple of movies. And, we took part in the “Art of Making Sushi” workshop on the second to last day and really enjoyed that and felt it was worth the $20 per person cost.
We were impressed with the assistant cruise directors (Darryl, Desmond, Julie, etc.) All of them were young and full of energy and had a ton of personality. They were also very accessible and were seen throughout the ship at various times of the day and night. The same can not be said for the actual cruise director, Paul. He was the oldest cruise director that we have ever had and had no personality and was perceived to be a dull and boring person who was tired and worn out. I rarely saw him on the ship and, when I did, he did not seem approachable or overly friendly. Maybe he was chosen as the cruise director to more closely align with the age of the average cruiser on the Grandeur of the Seas, but he had about as much personality as a dead fish.
My husband and I like to use the gym while on board our cruises. We use the gym when we are home and like to continue this routine, even on vacation. We were not impressed with the gym on the Grandeur of the Seas. There were not enough machines and the layout was odd. There was a large space that was completely empty on one side that was used for classes. When a class was in session, it was impossible to even get into the room. When a class wasn’t in session, the space was wasted. It would have been more helpful to have another space (possibly one of the rooms in the spa downstairs) to be used for the classes to free up the gym space and place some more elliptical machines and exercise equipment. On previous Carnival cruises, we never had a problem accessing a machine at the gym to workout, but there were many times that a machine wasn’t available when we wanted to work out on the Grandeur of the Seas.
I am a photographer and was very disappointed in the choice of photo backdrops and the quality of the photos after they were processed and printed. Many of the backdrops looked like they’d been drawn (ex: the picture of the ship) instead of an actual photo of the ship printed on the background. Also, on Carnival cruises, the photographers had different backgrounds to choose from on the two separate formal nights, but there was no such option on the Grandeur of the Seas. Also, the placement of the backdrops was not well thought out. Many of the people getting their photos taken were staring into the sun during the picture-taking which caused them to squint and, when the photos were processed and printed, the people were washed out and over-exposed. The fact that the photos were printed rather than provided electronically using our Sail Pass card to access and review was a waste of paper and ink. Finally, the cost was ridiculous. Spending $22.95 for one 8x10 photo and then spending at least that much to get any additional sizes printed was outrageous. At that price, why not just sell the digital rights and give people a CD or thumb drive of the images they want?
The disembarking procedure was smooth and without issue. We felt that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean did well in this regard.
At this point, I would not be wiling to sail on the Grandeur of the Seas again. I would be willing to look into a different cruise on a larger Royal Caribbean ship depending on the destination, but I feel like I would have more fun and enjoy myself more on a Carnival cruise. At least until I am in my mid-50s or older. Less
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Cabin review: 3060
Our cabin was located in the center of the ship on the port side. It was quiet and it was an adequate space for the two of us. We had previously had balcony cabins, but we found that we did not miss the balcony and the window provided a lot of light. The bathroom was tiny, but I have never seen a large bathroom on a cruise ship.
Port and Shore Excursions
We scheduled to take a tour of the Port area. The tour was scheduled from 11:00 – 3:30. Our main complaint is that this tour did NOT provide any food or stops for food during this time. When a tour is scheduled over a mealtime, it should provide a stop for food or a visit to a restaurant.
The places that we visited were also not the best to represent the Port.
Our first stop was at an Army Corps of Engineers Lock so that we could watch the lock open and close and also see the manatees that frequently swim in the lock waters. We were there nearly 45 minutes standing on top of hot pavement with no shade, no water, and no seating. I didn’t feel that this stop really enhanced my understanding of the Port, but it definitely didn’t need to be that long.
Our second stop was at the U.S. Air Force History Museum. We found this stop fascinating and the museum’s tour guide was very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, we were only given 45 minutes at this stop and, after people used the restroom (the only one available other than the one on the bus), we had about 35 minutes. The tour guide was only able to get through a few of the 20 exhibits before it was time to leave. I would have preferred staying here longer and skipping the Lock completely so that we could see more.
Our third stop was at a shrimp and fishing business. While this was applicable to the Port and the businesses there, it was a long stop and it felt like a commercial to buy their products and their business cards were handed out so that we could mail-order seafood from any part of the country. This stop was about an hour long. While we did get to eat at this stop, trying 3 different types of shrimp does not constitute a meal. However, we were given drinks at this stop.
Our final stop was at the Exploration Tower. I felt that this should have been our first stop on the tour. The movie provided a wonderful overview of the Port and its history and industries available. And, seeing that movie would have allowed us to skip the Lock as well as the shrimp and fishing business visits. We were not given enough time to explore the exhibits on the 6 floors, so we only had a chance to see 2 or 3 of them before it was time to leave. Again, better planning would have allowed us to see more.
We got back to the ship at 3:30 and were starving and exhausted.
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