This was our 3rd and last time on the Grand, with same stateroom. Before I get into all of the complaints, it should be obvious that if we returned to a ship twice--it is because we were very pleased with our experience. In fact this time, we brought two other couples with us!
We talked our friends into joining us on the Grand, telling them that this ship had the most wonderful ship food ever! We never eat in formal dining--instead (no matter which line we sail on) choosing to eat in the "Horizon Court" type dining room. Depending upon the ship, obviously, sometimes the food is better than others, but on the Grand--it has always been fabulous!!! This trip, it was the worst food we have ever eaten on any of the cruise ships. We were embarrassed by how bad it was after we had built it up so much to our friends! I still find it hard to believe that not a single soup (even basic tomato) was good! The other dining disappointment was that this time there wasn't any "seafood" night, with crab, shrimp, etc.
Totally love the fact that the dessert area was moved out and away from the regular buffet area.
The Grand was "refurbished" after our 2011 cruise. We requested the same room, expecting that the refurbishing extended to the cabins. Instead, we found the carpet had the same stains, the stool still did not flush much of the time and the cracked sink had not yet been replaced. Another disappointment.
One thing that did change was that the Horizon Court is no longer open around the clock! If you are a night owl like I am, it is now necessary to wear a watch--so much for a laid back vacation!! You must keep track of what time it is and either memorize the times or keep your Princess Patter with you so that you can figure out whether you need to go to the Horizon or to the International Cafe for food.
Yes, the International Cafe is always open BUT the kicker is that if you go there during a time when the Horizon Court is still open, you cannot get free coffee or iced tea. You have to pay for it!!!!!!! This is a ship that gives out free ice cream and pizza! It is unbelievable to me that these items are available but that the ship would ask their passengers to pay for a basic (not the fancy kind) cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea just because the Horizon Court, which is NINE FLOORS UP, is still open and serving that same tea and coffee!!!! Another minor annoyance was that while they have sandwiches at the International Cafe, they do not have condiments!
The last complaint is the customer service. We were scheduled to sail on the Crown right after our trip on the Grand. We asked several times for any information known about the norovirus situation on that ship. Sadly, the only information we were able to get came from CNN news on television. No one could answer any questions or offered to get information for us. In another, unrelated situation, my husband contacted the desk to ask a question and was told by the purser that they would find out and call back. They never did!
The final topper for an already frustrating cruise was our final cruise day when we stopped by to ask about how our luggage would get from the Grand to the Crown. The person we spoke to was from the Ukraine and she seemed to have great difficulty understanding what we were asking as well as communicating with us. She kept telling us that the suitcases would need to go in the box, which made no sense. My husband finally insisted on speaking to someone else who could help us and she finally said she would need to make a call. She wasn't able to explain to the person on the phone so she just said something like "Here--You talk to them!" That person answered our question quickly and contradicted the information that she had given us. Plus, we learned that the "box" she was talking about was "bus". The question that we had spent almost 10 frustrating minutes trying to resolve with her only took a couple of sentences with the person on the phone. It is nice to have people available to answer questions, but at the customer service counter, they should speak English clearly, not give out information that they are unsure of and if they DON"T know the answer to a question, that is okay as long as they are willing to admit it, will get the information for you and call you back if they say they will.
We have enjoyed every trip on the Grand until this one. We will not be back! In fact, on our last days on this ship, we were discussing going back to Royal Caribbean. We had been traveling with them prior to our "good" experiences on the Grand caused us to switch our yearly trip from them to Princess. We did enjoy our 2nd cruise on the Crown that followed this trip and can say that from entertainment to food to toilets that work to customer service, they were everything that the Grand was not.
Ate at Raices and the food was excellent! Fell in love with Mango mojitos and Tres Leches cake.
Also bought a wonderful sand painting from an artist in the little park-like area across the street. Lots of other interesting items from various local artists.
Back to our favorite - L'Escargot!!!! I don't even know what to recommend. This time we asked for a plate of snails in garlic butter. Fantastic. I also ordered the duck in pineapple and banana sauce (Le Canard de "L'Escargot") which was good but I really fell in love with my husband's choice--Escalope de Veau Au Citron (veal in a lemon butter sauce). It was amazing. After all of the bread and food, we were stuffed but found room for their award-winning chocolate mousse. As we were working on that, they brought us each a complimentary homemade brandy.
If you love good food, don't miss this one. Plus the decor is so crazy and fun!!!!! Menu is online.
Stopped at Glady's Cafe for some conch fritters and guacamole. We all agreed that her recommended drink with bananas and Bailey's (can't remember the name) was dangerously good. The guac is good but even better with a shot of the hot sauce. Each has a different taste. Just a very friendly place with good food!