We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Stadium on N. Dale Mabry. It is very clean, friendly, inexpensive and RIGHT behind Sam Seltzers - best steak house in Tampa. The cab fare (which included the driver getting a ticket) was the same as from the airport. $25 including tip.
The Grandeur was a couple hours late returning to Tampa due to weather, so we had a bit of a wait even after arriving at the port at 10:30. Once we were ready to board the processing was fast and efficient. And they had cookies, water, and tea to keep us amused while we waited.
We didn't have to go to a bar for our soda cards as they had a table set up in the atrium. We also bought a couple of drinks of the day and the poor bar tender kept having to run up one deck to get some supplies. We found the Grandeur clean, polished and well kept.After some exploring and some lunch in the Wind Jammer we were able to get into our rooms. We were in an inside cabin on Deck 2. The room was small, but adequate. We don't spend much time in our cabin anyway. Our son's bed was a pullman style that dropped out of the ceiling. Due to this my Bride and I had to sleep on opposite sides of the room (a whole 3 feet apart!), because together the beds (ours and the boy's) would have been too hard to make. Our cabin steward was stellar. He always greeted us by name in the hallways and kept our cabin immaculate. I made sure my daughters tipped him extra as they are casual housekeepers at best and it had to have been hard for him to maneuver around their cabin.
The food was good all around, but no lobster on the shorty cruises. They did have seafood available most evenings, though. I had a pumpkin soup that was outstanding. And the shrimp scampi was superb! Our waiter and assistant waiter were fabulous and we had fun with them as well. They kept us entertained but were never over-bearing about it. The whole staff seemed to perform some song or dance in some way at each meal which I found a bit much.
The Wind Jammer? It's a buffet, good for a quick bite if you are short on time or just looking for a snack. Don't expect five star food if you eat here, but it is good enough. We preferred breakfast in the dining room. Better food and it's hot. As we never docked before 10 AM it was always a relaxed morning. If you chose the dining room for breakfast or lunch, be sure and carry cash to tip your wait staff. Many didn't seem to leave a tip.
The Grandeur has a Seattle's Best Coffee shop. Good coffee and pastries! It seemed under used, though. Never more than one or two people in line.
The jazz bands in the atrium seemed to draw a pretty heavy crowd. Standing room only on formal night. There were a couple of conference groups, and two radio station groups (one country, one rock) on this cruise with us. But there were never any issues noted like you read about with large groups on a cruise.
The "midnight" buffet was at 8 PM - one half hour before second seating. It was pretty, but that seemed an odd time. The dining room was just about empty that evening.This being a short cruise, the shows were mostly the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers, who did an outstanding job. There were also a couple of comedians: Al Romas who performed on our first cruise and a team whom we didn't see.
The teen activities were not well attended. My son tried a couple of times, but what young people there were tended to be pretty stand-off-ish and cliquey. Nobody would even talk to him, and he is a pretty outgoing guy who makes friends pretty easy. They had to scrap the movie/swim night because the screen and projector were in the conference room with the Frigidaire people. He gave up after a couple of tries and just spent money in the arcade or hung out with us.
The arcade has a machine that you put cash into and it loads up your Seapass card to use in the machines. Great way to keep an eye on what the kids are spending.
Adventure Ocean, on the other hand, seemed to be rocking most of the time. There are windows that you can see in and the smaller kids were having a blast!
The time in Key West was too short. A fellow pax said it best, "We are stopping in Key West for lunch." But enough time for a private excursion on the Liberty Schooner - under full sail and we were the only people on board. Dolphins were seen off to starboard a couple of times. Off to Ripley's then it was time to get back on board. Extra security measures (DL, passport AND Seapass) slowed things down a bit.
We were a bit late getting into Cozumel. Then we had to wait while they docked Celebrity Century next to us, so in all we were an hour and a half late getting off the ship. Spent the day at a private beach through a private excursion where there were only two dozen of us on a huge beach. They never take more than one hundred at any rate. The service was stellar and the food even better. Then off to San Miguel to barter with the shop keepers. A good time for sure.
The only downside to this whole trip was the conflict of events with second seating supper. We missed a LOT of stuff that we wanted to do because we were eating dinner. Wine tasting, C&A welcome back party, karaoke to name a few.
The oceans were almost dead calm the entire trip, which I guess is rare for February. Kind of disappointing as I was hoping for the 13-15 foot seas that we experienced on the Splendour in 2005. The cruise just before us and after us had roughish seas, be we could barely feel the ship rocking, mostly from side to side slightly.
Disembarkation was much smoother than our first cruise. We were some of the last people off the ship and were at the airport by 10:00. Another bonus to being last off the ship is it is REALLY easy to find your luggage.