Cruisers: Me (50), Hubby (59), Mom (78), Sis (46) We were all first time Royal Caribbean cruisers. My mother, my husband and I have all sailed Carnival (once and once only) and Princess (3 times) before. This was my sister's first cruise ever!
EMBARKATION: A The best of our cruising experience! Cruise Maryland is great and the RCI staff was very helpful and friendly! We boarded on Deck 2 which is kind of under-whelming. Would have been nice to see the Centrum (atrium area) as we did on the Princess ships. It is a much more spectacular boarding experience.
FOOD: C for vegetarians/B for omnivores Except for the first formal night, we ate at the Windjammer café. My husband and I are vegetarian. The entrée choices for us were very limited. Even items that you would assume were vegetarian were not. For example, the Potato Leek and Pumpkin Apple soups were made with chicken stock. The spicy fried rice had chicken in it. The vegetarian pasta sauces were very bland and the pasta overcooked. The vegetables were also often overcooked and tough. However, the fresh fruit and salad bars were very nice. At our only dining room meal, the soups were all meat based except the cold fruit soup (yuck!). The only salad was Caesar (which has anchovies). And the only vegetarian entrée was essentially a stack of fried eggplant with a little vinaigrette sauce on top, accompanied by one broccoli spear. Kind of sad. The waiter brought me a vegetarian salad not on the menu, which was a wedge of iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes. Ho-hum... Also, (unlike Princess) there were no veggie burgers at the pool grill and the pizza was pretty tasteless. The fries were good though! My sister and mother who are not veggies, did have a better experience. The breakfast bar was good, but basically the same everyday. And there was a soft ice cream machine near the main pool. Also, the Windjammer was closed between 4:30 and 6:30PM. We like to eat an early dinner and it would have been nice to have it open during those hours. Favorite food items: The Coconut cookies and the Grand Marnier Soufflé! :) yum yum!
PUBLIC ROOMS: B Most of the public areas are very clean and quite lovely, but I found one major problem...there are very few comfortable chairs on the ship! Nice looking, yes. Comfortable ...NO!
BERMUDA: A+++ Bermuda is the loveliest of the islands we have visited! Just gorgeous! And Kings Wharf dock was very convenient to ferries and buses. We enjoyed the roller coaster-like bus rides down those narrow roads ... very exhilarating! On Tuesday, we took the ferry from the Dockyard to Hamilton. Then took a bus to St. Georges. Then took the ferry back to King's Wharf from St. Georges. We did not care much for Hamilton. We are not shoppers and felt it was very crowded and there was too much traffic. We did enjoy the smaller more quaint St. Georges. We had an enjoyable drink or two (yummy Dark and Stormy...the "national drink" of Bermuda) at the White Horse Tavern near the ship dock. On Wednesday, we took the bus to Horseshoe Bay. Then, we spent the rest of the day at Snorkel Park. Horseshoe Bay is stunning and the water was wonderful, but rather rough. We also enjoyed Snorkel Park. I rented snorkel equipment ($20) and saw some very pretty fish, although visibility was a little poor due to rough waters and sand kicked up by waders/swimmers. It is probably best to do this early in the day. WARNING: The staff at Hammerhead bar at Snorkel Park was EXTREMELY RUDE!!! And the drinks are no cheaper than on the ship. So save your money and drink onboard later!
ENTERTAINMENT: A Better than Princess! We enjoyed all the comedians (didn't see the late night show though) and the production shows were very good! The Karaoke Idol show was also very good! A lot of great talent on our ship! My favorite shows for the cruise: Dave Morgan and Chucky the Duck (check out chuckytheduck dot com) and the "My Romance" production show. CABIN: B We were on Deck 2 (2624 and 2616). The cabins were small, but standard for outside view cabins. Clean, comfortable beds. Good amount of storage space. Tiny bathroom, as usual. SERVICE: B+ Very good for the most part. Our room attendant (Wei Wei) was very nice and did a great job! And it was nice to see those towel animals, which we missed on Princess!!
CASINO: D This was the worst part of our cruise. We are blackjack players and on past cruises we have really enjoyed playing and talking with some very nice cruisers and dealers. Win or lose we usually have fun. However, the dealers on the Grandeur were extremely unfriendly and sometimes downright rude (with maybe one or two exceptions). Also, the casino is very small and smoke-filled. RCI tries to squeeze in as many players as the can in that small space at the expense of comfort. There was only one $5 blackjack table which was VERY popular. The table had more playing spots than chairs. So players stand behind the seated players and have to reach over them to play, which is very annoying. The single deck blackjack, higher limit blackjack, and Caribbean poker table were almost empty the entire cruise! They really should convert one of those tables to another (non-smoking) $5 blackjack table. And get some nicer dealers. You would think they would at least try to be friendly for the sake of tips...sheesh! I also love to play poker but never got a chance! They had one Texas Hold'em table, but it remained empty the entire cruise because the limit and rakes were too high and the table only sat 7 players (which translates to lower winning pots). And the Hold 'em tournament on the last sea day had a high entry fee ($115) and not very good payoffs. Boo!
ACTIVITIES: C+ The Cruise Director (Simeon Baker) was pretty good ... not as annoying as many CD can be. The staff was just okay. They had the usual belly flop and sexy leg contests (eh...). Bingo was expensive, but fun (we played only once). The battle of the sexes gameshow was kind of obnoxious and too adult considering that there were some teenagers in the audience. We did not go to The Quest, but from what we saw in the video replay, it looked a little too wild and silly for us anyway. The trivia contests (which we usually enjoy despite the lame prizes) were quite a challenge ... mostly because the emcee (Minnie from China) was UNBELIEVABLY hard to understand. We did have quite a few great laughs trying to decipher her questions!! One that was particularly funny, went like this: Minnie: How many people are duck fans?! Who likes ducks? Us: [Looking puzzled, tentatively raise our hands...sure, I guess we like ducks...] Minnie: This question is about ducks...What is the largest duck in the whole world? Us: [Looking even more puzzled. We muse... mallard?....teal?...Daffy?! We then repeat the question back to Minnie] You want to know "what is the largest DUCK?" Minnie: NO! Pay attention!! I said, what is the largest duck in the whole world!! Us: [shrugging shoulders ... blank stares] duck?! Minnie: No, duck! Largest DUCK!!! ......... D - O - G ....duck!! Us: [laughing hysterically!!!!!!!]
POOLS: B+ Both pools were lovely! The water was too cold for some, but I enjoy it that way! In fact, I was the only person in the pool before we set sail! The Solarium pool was my favorite ... very elegant and quiet! And it had some of the only comfortable chairs on the ship. The hot tubs were nice, but they were overfilled and when seated the water was up to our chins! They either need to raise the seats or lower the water!
A COUPLE MISCELLANEOUS GRIPES (no biggies): --Muster drill was WAY too long and not very well run. As we stood and waited in very uncomfortable groups, there was very little important safety information given and the captain prattled on and on and on about the weather and our cruise plan and many other things that could have waited until we were seated and comfortable. My feet were aching!! --The signs on Deck 2 that indicate Port and Starboard were reversed (this may have been true on other decks as well). Apparently, it has been this way for quite a while!! Why haven't they fixed this!?!? This is very confusing and more importantly, a safety issue! Come on RCI!!! --My husband's room key stopped working three times during the cruise (maybe he has a strong magnetic field? lol). Each time he had to wait in a long line at the Purser's desk to get another card. One reason for the long lines seemed to be the fact that the Purser's Desk was selling Bermuda bus/ferry passes. They probably should have sold these from the Excursions desk (which was never crowded), so that people wouldn't have to wait to have their issues solved. --I wish the would wait until 10:00 or 11:00am to start playing loud calypso music at the pool deck. We enjoyed having our breakfast outside by the pool area and it would have been nice to have a little quiet in the early morning hours. However, this has been an issue on all the cruise ships we have sailed on.
DISEMBARKATION: B- We were about 3 hours late due to engine problems and the staff was obviously thrown off by this. However, for the most part they handled it pretty well. One major issue: We hung out just outside the Windjammer after breakfast until we were allowed to leave the ship. The bathrooms on that deck we a MESS! Most of the toilets wouldn't flush, there was paper everywhere and water (and other things!!) on the floor ... and the smell was awful! I told the staff and their solution to the problem was to close and lock one of the bathrooms!! This of course made the only other working bathroom even more crowded and messy! There was the usual long wait for all of the non-US citizens to report to immigration. They had to call them 6 or 8 times. Then we had to wait for the self-assist passengers to disembark. But after the started to call the regular colors, it was a breeze.
OVERALL: Overall, we enjoyed our Grandeur of the Seas cruise very much, but slightly prefer the larger Princess ships.