I have found this site really helpful in the past, and wanted to pass on the knowledge to others.
First off, I must say that I find many of the reviews to be very critical -- to the point that I was worried about the Grandeur before we left. I was thinking sewage, ripped carpets, terrible food... well let me tell you -- I am an experienced traveler and 4-time cruiser -- the Grandeur was wonderful and we loved it.
Embarkation was a BREEZE, I couldn't believe it. We got on the ship much earlier than the published time, had a GREAT lunch at the Windjammer and were able to spend a couple of hours in New Orleans (fun, fun) before re-boarding. The embarkation staff were efficient, friendly and there were no delays. Much better than other ships I've been on.
We were in an inside cabin -- mid ship on 2nd floor -- NO SEWAGE smell and trust me I was smelling for it. The room itself was small, but we figured that, they are smaller than Carnival but there is a ton of storage space. We both unpacked (huge suitcases I might add) and had room to spare. Our cabin steward -- Colbert -- was great and he kept our room very clean. They are very eager to please. The showers are fairly small but water pressure is great ... and ladies don't pack a hair dryer -- the room really does come with it (more room for shoes right!) ha ha.
The ship itself is great. The pool is small, but they have an indoor one too in the Solarium, which we enjoyed because it is adults only. The shops, dining rooms and bars were all impressive and the casino is much bigger than on Carnival (Paradise). We don't have children but the programs seemed really good and the kids seemed to all participate. For the most part, we did not see a lot of children.
The food was GREAT. I don't know what people are talking about on the reviews when some people say that Windjammer sucks-- I don't know where you usually eat, but it was very good. We ate for the most part in the dining room, except for lunch which we tended to eat at the Windjammer. We were always impressed and there was always lots of choices. Sure, there was stuff I didn't like but there is stuff at restaurants I don't like too.
I don't eat red meat, only chicken, and found that I always had lots of options and healthier eating choices.
The dining room was wonderful, our waiters, Richard and Valery, were outstanding -- and trust me I am very critical of service. They really enhanced our experience and were always making recommendations and really ensuring we were happy. They also never hesitated to bring us a couple "extras" when we couldn't decide. Don't hesitate to pick 2 entrees if you can't decide. Like the WIndjammer, there were some meals I didn't like -- however that is me, and I am picky. My fiancee loved all the food. I especially liked the appetizers and soups and they always have healthy and vegetarian options. The food was much better than Carnival.
We were at a table of 6, and our mates were great -- we had a blast and hope to visit Dorian and Harriot in England at some point. I'd encourage people to sit at a big table, conversations are usually interesting and why not!
Entertainment was great -- make sure to see the weekly guests -- magicians, comedians, etc., and make sure to check the daily Compass as they sometimes have pre-dinner shows if you have the late dinner.
The ports of call -- very nice. Great shopping and Allan (your "shopping guide") was brilliant and we found him very helpful. Cozumel is the place to go for jewelry and Allan can help. He is always giving away free stuff at the shopping talks-- so make sure to go. I have been to Cayman before -- we got kinda bored there -- many of the tours were cancelled because of wind so some people were bummed. We just walked around and drank "Stingray" beer. Cayman is expensive though -- so get souvenirs elsewhere.
Costa Maya -- I loved it here. Now -- I really encourage people who visit to leave behind your North American comparisons because, after all, we aren't in NA. Costa Maya is, as our tour guide described "Cancun 50 years ago." Aside from the port area, there is nothing to do. The port is great -- nice shops, beautiful pool and things to do. With that said, I would recommend if you do a tour, do it here. We did the All Terrain and Loved it. Paris was our tour guide and we were amazed. He knows a lot and made the day great. He reminded us that when we visit, don't look around and think "poor people.. I feel bad." The people there are happy and the tours are not intended to show you how "bad it is." They are intended to show you that it is different and how they live -- as NA I think we have a lot to learn. The all terrain is a lot of fun and Paris will give you a great day. Costa Maya is slowly developing.
The tours in general I found very expensive. We enjoy doing things on our own. it's up to people to decide, but with a family, tours can get pricey.
All in all -- we give the Grandeur of the Seas an A. The only down things we could notice is .. ok the carpets in the main areas are a bit raggidy but with that said -- WHO CARES! The ship is a bit older and with the number of people on each week -- of course it gets worn. The service is great -- no complaints, the staff are fun and you can get as involved as you want -- or just chill like we did.
We will definitely be back and hopefully this review helps others. Happy Crusin'!