BACKGROUND INFORMATION: My hubby and I had cruised twice before, once on the Celebrity Summit and once on the Mariner of the Seas and our two main concerns were that a 5 day cruise would be far too short and that the smaller ship would detract from our vacation. Of course we found the cruise to be too short (but that's true of any cruise, no matter how long) but found the smaller ship to provide for a much more low key and relaxing vacation than we had anticipated.
TRAVEL TO PORT/EMBARKATION: We live in Orlando, so we simply drove down to the port the morning of the cruise. Traffic wasn't too bad but tolls were a little more expensive than we thought they would be (about $12 each way). Embarkation was much easier than we thought it would be. We walked right up, checked in, and were on board the ship eating in the Windjammer in less than half an hour.
STATEROOM: Our stateroom was about the average size of an interior stateroom and was nice and clean with a little bit more closet space than I had on previous cruises. The bed was comfy and, thanks to the curtain that divided the bed from the rest of the stateroom (and succeed in blocking out all light), we slept soundly almost every night of the cruise. My only complaints about the stateroom were that the phone was bolted onto the dresser and we had difficulty finding our way to it when our wake-up calls came and that the thermostat had broken on our last night, leaving the stateroom sweltering.
SHIP INFO: The Grandeur of the seas was beautiful. Being a theater nerd I particularly loved the design of their theater and my hubby spent a great deal of time enjoying the casino. The pools were nice and well maintained and the 16 and over solarium provided a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the main pool, we also never had a problem finding a lounge chair. The only concern I had with the Grandeur was that the majority of the casino allowed smoking. Although there is a non-smoking section of the casino, it is quite small. There was also a non-smoking night in the casino, though it was not very well enforced.
DINING: The food was amazing, we never encountered an entree we didn't like. The Windjammer was a bit too small with limited seating however, with some patience, we were always able to find a table, even in the lunch rush. We also loved the main dining room. We requested a table for two and I was a bit disappointed that we were assigned a table for six. That being said, though, the other two couples we were sat with were interesting, fun, and I was glad I decided not to try and switch for a different table. Our wait staff was amazing. They were very engaging, always brought our favorite drinks to the table, and had no problem bringing us a second dish (appetizer, entree, or dessert) if we had difficulty making up our minds on what to order. One of the few ways I missed being on a larger ship, however, was the fact that there is no specialty dining on the Grandeur. However, there is the option to add a Chops Grille steak to your dinner for $15.00.
ACTIVITIES: I felt that the activities on the ship were somewhat limited and seemed to consist mostly of the same activities day in and day out. Fortunately we brought some cards and had no problem relaxing and finding ways to entertain ourselves when there was nothing going on. Although I felt that the activities themselves were lacking, the cruise director and his staff were amazing and fun to interact with.
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was a little disappointing and, in my opinion, not quite up to the standards of the previous cruises we had done (possibly because the Grandeur is so much smaller). That being said, we did have an enjoyable time at the shows.
SERVICE: The service was amazing. We had our anniversary on board the ship and our stateroom attendant actually left an anniversary card in our stateroom which was a pleasant surprise. Also, as previously mentioned the cruise director staff and the waitstaff were always friendly and helpful.
PORTS: We chose this cruise mainly for the three ports it visited which were Key West, Cozumel, and Coco Cay. We didn't book any excursions because we wanted to explore the areas on our own and had an amazing time in all three. The port where we spent the least amount of time in was Cozumel because the ship didn't dock near the main city and we would have had to pay $10 each way to get downtown. However there were shops and bars over by the cruise ship and we did enjoy walking around, having a drink or two, and (of course) shopping. Coco Cay was so relaxing and it was nice to just laze around on the beach and enjoy the buffet (that was included with the cruise). Our favorite of the three ports, by far, was Key West mainly because just about everything was within walking distance. We walked over to the lighthouse, climbed up the stairs, and were rewarded with the view of the ship, the island, the Hemingway house, and the ocean. We also walked down the the Southernmost Point and had to get a picture in front of it. All in all the ports were absolutely beautiful and the hubby and I would consider cruising to them again.
DISEMBARKATION: The disembarkation process was relatively painless. We could have carried our luggage off the ship and been among the first to get off, but since we were driving and had nowhere we needed to be we decided to go the traditional route of leaving our luggage in the hall and picking it up on the way out. There was a slight delay at customs but other than that we were able to get back to our car rather quickly.
All in all we had a wonderful vacation and are already looking forward to our next Royal Caribbean cruise.