I just arrived home today from taking the Grandeur OTS from 8/8-8/15 to the Bahamas. This was my first time taking a trip out of Baltimore and when compared to Port Canaveral, it was about 30 minutes faster from the time you arrive to the time you actually board the ship. I would estimate it was about 25 minutes from parking to boarding.
I was traveling with a group of 8, including some first time cruisers and a 1 year old. I had balcony 7072, and as this being my first time with a balcony, I will never go back to any category less. The room was bigger than the standard ocean view room with a decent sized balcony and plenty of storage space. I found the room to be functional and just big enough for two adults and a pack n play set up for the baby. The state room attendant was friendly and efficient, as expected on RCI.
The food was definitely a highlight for all of us on this trip. We ate most meals in the MDR, the Great Gatsby, and found our waitstaff excellent. Both were interactive and friendly and were very playful with our 1 year old daughter as well. I had lunch one time in Izumi for an upcharge and found that to be excellent as well. However, the MDR food was great at just about every meal. I also found the Park Cafe to be a hidden little gem that served more deli style sandwich's etc. The Windjammer is your standard cruise buffet. The food was good, but it is focused more on quantity than quality.
This is an older and smaller vessel, as such, the entertainment was good, but the production shows not spectacular. The consensus of my group was that we enjoyed the bands, the piano entertainer, and the trivia games the best. After being on this ship for a week, it seems we saw and experienced all the ship has to offer and as such, we would be seeking future cruises on the more newer and bigger ships for more options. This is especially so with young kids. Other than the nursery, there was no place for our 1 year old to go or do. The newer ships have baby pools and more activities for them, but on the Grandeur, kids under three have no pool to use nor entertainment.
If we had to rank the port of calls, it would be Coco Cay, Port Canaveral, and then Nassau. Coco Cay is always a delight and simply beautiful. You can literally plop in a lounge chair for six hours and not move if you choose to. My only gripe was that another ship was tendered at Coco Cay the dame time, and thus, twice the amount of people on the island. Having been there before with just my ship, we were a bit disappointed to find it so crowded compared to the last time. I really wish RCI would stop having more than one ship stop at their private destinations at the same time. While it's great for business, its a disservice to its guests. We went to Cocoa Beach in Florida, and while it did rain later in the afternoon, the beach is very wide and the wave action was awesome. For $15 bucks, not a bad deal to enjoy some sun, sand and water. To me, I am done with Nassau as a stop on a vacation. I will write more about this under the port review section, but needless to say our excursion group got split up due to the sheer chaos of disembarking at the port, waited an hour for a shuttle bus to Atlantis in 90 degree heat, and then be told the excursion got cut an hour short on top of it. Basically for $85, we sat on an Atlantis beach for 2 hours. After complaining, we got 20% taken off our excursion bill.
Overall, we all had a really great time on this trip, except for the issue in Nassau. For those that are seeking the more personable and comfort atmosphere of a smaller ship, than you will have a great time on this trip for sure. We were definitely sad when the trip was over!
This was by far the worst organized excursion between a cruise line and their contracted transportation service I have ever seen. First, the cruise line has a guest carry the group number paddle board as the "leader" to get off the ship. However, in the chaos of disembarking, the group of about 90 people got split into at least two or more separate groups that got disconnected from each other and we all lost the "leader". When we got off the ship we had no idea where we were supposed to go. It took close to an hour sitting at the end of the pier to get reconnected with the rest of the excursion group. Our excursion was supposed to be from 2PM-7PM. However, we were told the last shuttle back would now be 5:30PM and due to the delay in the beginning, we did not get to Atlantis and on the beach until 3:15PM. Therefore, we basically only had 2 hours of beach time and a quick sprint through the "dig" before heading back to the shuttle to return to the ship. A complete waste of time and money for such a short amount of time. The beaches themselves in Atlantis are beautiful, we just had no where near enough time to justify the aggravation and cost.