My boyfriend and I sailed on the Grandeur for five nights from Baltimore to Bermuda and back on October 28, 2007. We were both first-time cruisers. I am 30, he is 37. Just to give you an idea of where we're coming from.
I had read just about every review of the Grandeur on this site, and definitely all the reviews of the Grandeur's sailings to Bermuda specifically. So I was prepared for a smooth embarkation and disembarkation in Baltimore, an older ship, and mediocre-to-poor food.
Well, embarkation was definitely a breeze, although we did have to wait a while in the security line. That seemed reasonable, but the reviews on here made it sound SO smooth that I was a bit surprised. Perhaps we arrived at a busier time than those people did. We got to the terminal right around 1.
Once we got onto the ship, we checked out our room briefly and then went right up to deck 9 to the Windjammer where lunch was out. I was afraid it would be PACKED since they were sending everyone there and since the reviews here made it sound like it was always a zoo, but it was OK. Actually, that was the most crowded we saw the Windjammer the whole trip (and we ate there at least once a day), and it was still not that bad. We wound up taking our food out by the pool.
As for the food: we were both very satisfied with it. We ate breakfast and/or lunch (often just one big meal between the two) in the Windjammer daily, and dinner in the Gatsby (second seating) every night, and we liked EVERYthing. I am not a very picky eater, so I wasn't worried, but my boyfriend can be picky, and he really liked the food. I am a vegetarian, and found plenty of options for me at every meal. My boyfriend loves seafood and ate it every night at dinner and enjoyed it all.
The service was very good throughout the cruise. And also we were impressed with the ship itself. It did not seem noticeably old or rickety or lacking in amenities. Remember, though, we have nothing to compare these things to. I'm sure if we were on a brand-new, state-of-the-art ship before this, we'd have noticed a difference, but it was all new to us and we enjoyed everything.
I have to agree with previous reviewers that there is remarkably ample storage space in such a small stateroom. I do recommend that if you're getting an oceanview room, get a higher-up one -- the windows get smaller as you go down. (We were on deck 4.) I also recommend bringing an extension cord. I read this somewhere on this site but did not heed it. It wasn't a huge deal, but there were only two outlets in the room, and between my camera charger, our cell chargers, his electric razor, etc., we had to juggle a bit.
Someone told me not to overpack. Yet I did. I brought home a LOT of clothes I hadn't worn, and yet wished I had brought more of other things. I brought too many dresses and nice pants, but not enough casual pants/capris. I also brought too many casual shoes and not enough semi-dressy shoes. It was basically either flip-flops, sneakers, or my very dressy heels -- I wished I had brought something in between, like loafers, that wouldn't embarrass me at dinner. I had a false sense of how dressy the cruise was, and yet didn't extend that to shoes.
Bermuda was very nice, but be warned: the shore excursions might change on you. I spent literally hours scouring through the list, making up a mock schedule of all the ones I liked, and deciding on three whose times did not overlap. Then when we got to our room, our tickets were there, but the times had ALL changed, and two of them were now at the SAME time. They gave us a refund on one of them when we went to the desk to point out the problem (we got to choose which to keep), but it was still a little disappointing after all my research. And then we wound up not even GOING on the second one at all, because we found we'd rather just explore Bermuda on our own using our bus/ferry passes. So I'd recommend not packing your port days with pre-planned activities. Just pick one, and take it easy the rest of the time. I also would not necessarily recommend buying two-day passes as we did (and as many other reviewers here recommend doing). We only used them one day, so that was a bit of a waste. You can always get another day pass if you find you will use it.
Other than the clothes and the shore excursions/passes, I can't think of anything I would have done differently to prepare for this. My only real complaint was that this cruise was over too soon! Just as we felt settled in and relaxed enough to start taking advantage of some of the things available on board, it was over. Next time we're definitely going on a longer one -- and we both agree there will be a next time. And I think it will be on Royal Caribbean. We were very pleased with everything they had to offer.