We live within a half hour of the Port of Baltimore so we left our house at 1 p.m. and were on the boat eating in the Windjammer Cafe by 2 p.m. My wife and I (in our fifties) have traveled on the Grandeur of the Seas so we had some good expectations from previous cruises. What was noticeable on this cruise from the cruise company that advertises itself as the nation of why not were some significant nots. Despite a number of cutbacks we noticed, we still had a very good time. The employees of Royal Caribbean do a great job of providing excellent service.
The Cutbacks We noticed a number of cutbacks from previous cruises on the Grandeur compared to the trips we made over the past two years. The most significant were the cutting out of the Ship Shape Program and no chocolates on the bed at night. The Ship Shape program was fun and enabled you to get points for exercising. You could redeem your points at the end of the cruise for a small prize like a T-Shirt or a backpack. It was great fun and gave us a nice incentive to participate in as many exercise programs as feasible. Without the incentive, we reduced our participation in the programs this time. A crew member told us that the program was cut fleet wide for budget reasons. I would assume the same reasoning applied to other cuts. It would not seem like chololates would cost a lot for each bed but these are a thing of the past on the Grandeur.
We also nitced fewer desserts in the Windjammer Cafe, no more theme lunches based on the port you are in (such as a Mexican fiesta or on this cruise no New England seafood lunch). Gone too are any dessert buffets or teas outside of the normal fare. I sensed little live music on the pool deck. No printout of a newspaper (a synopsis of world news printed by satellite) each day either or even an offer to buy one. No person stationed to help in the Internet Cafe. On television, no cruise compass showing where the boat was, not even a view from the ship showing the outside deck. The daily ship newspaper seemed cut in content, too. No description of city we visited and what to visit (except for shops where the ship has an arrangement with), although you could get a printout from the Purser's Desk of each city if you asked. It just seemed like there were a lot of nice perks which distinguished RC that are no longer offered. Even the gifts we got as Crown & Anchor members seemed smaller. I am not one to gripe but I sense RC is cutting back in the wrong places by taking away from the customer.
The Cruise The trip went smoothly. We had a lot of fog and cool conditions so if you plan to go on this cruise, definitely bring a windbreaker or sweatshirt for cool conditions. I think I saw the sun for any period of time only on the first day and last couple days of the trip. I thought the port arrivals and departures went smoothly. You just tender in once at Bar Harbor. We came in a couple of hours late back to Baltimore due to engine malfunctions, but the ride in was beautiful. I would definitely recommend staying on deck the first hour sailing away or the last hour coming back to view the scenery and experience going under the Bay Bridge and the Key Bridge. You will also see Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame) near to where the boat departs and arrives back.
Our room was an inside stateroom on floor 4. It was in the Guaranteed Cabin rate category, so you can say we paid for what we got. We soon realized that the room we were in, 4005, backed up to the orchestra pit in the Paladium Theater. We got a good thump-thump of music for three hours nightly. So beware if you get that room. The shower was fairly small, but again I am not complaining as I knew going in that interior staterooms have small showers and not a lot of room. Our room steward, Frankie, was excellent and a joy to interact with.
The Food The food was o.k. My wife thought it was blander than the two previous cruises on the Grandeur. I thought there were fewer desserts offered. But, overall, I thought the crew did a good job offering a variety of foods. I should note we ate all our meals in the Windjammer Cafe so those eating in the dining rooms may have had a different view. There were a couple of times the frozen yogurt machine was not working and that was missed.
Overall I don't think we will be taking another cruise on the Grandeur in a while. We used to be a loyal Royal Caribbean customer, but now I would say it is just one of many lines and because of its cutbacks does not distinguish itself in ways that it used to. I hope the management realizes one day that when the customer notices cutbacks, it makes them look elsewhere for their next cruise choice.