The 1,950-passenger Grandeur of the Seas, launched in early 1996, is one of Royal Caribbean's oldest (and smallest) vessels, but you'd never know it from the ship's sleek public spaces: a grand Art Deco-inspired dining room, the glitzy Palladium Theater and a sweeping six-story atrium.
You can thank a 2012 refurb for the ship's new lease on life. Royal Caribbean has spent millions of dollars to add favorite Oasis-class features to ships lacking in dining variety, balconies and all the latest bells and whistles. Post-makeover, the ship now sports updated cabins, including flat-screen TV's and shipwide Wi-Fi. Specialty dining venues (including steak, Italian and Asian restaurants), an outdoor movie screen and a redesigned atrium all give passengers more ways to enjoy their time onboard. Digital "Wayfinder" signage, large touch-screens posted by the elevators, let you browse daily activity schedules and restaurant menus, and find directions from here to there (or to the nearest bathroom) -- all in multiple languages. They're fun to play with and incredibly helpful when you can't remember whether you're forward or aft on the ship.
As for the ship itself, passenger flow is excellent. The hub of the ship is the Centrum, the six-deck atrium, with a bar and dance floor at the bottom and balcony-like walkways flanking its upper levels. Its main level is used for everything from art auctions and song-and-dance-and-aerial-acrobatics performances to cooking classes and silly games. The genius of this area is that you have to pass it to get anywhere on the ship, so even if you don't mean to stop, you get sucked into the action below and find yourself watching or joining in the fun.
Grandeur's size will never be the main draw, as it's too big to be truly intimate, but too small to compete with even Voyager-class attractions. But, with the new additions, it is a good choice for Royal Caribbean fans who simply can't stomach a 6,000-passenger vessel, but want at least some level of choice.
When Grandeur is homeporting in Columbia, expect a Latin American immersion cruise with passengers predominantly coming from South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Starting in spring 2013, the ship will sail year-round from Baltimore, with most passengers hailing from the Northeast, especially the Mid-Atlantic States. Because the ship is so family-friendly, it is not unusual for Grandeur to attract many kids during summers. Royal Caribbean typically appeals to people in their 30's to 50's, though you will certainly find many older than that onboard.
A weeklong cruise will have two formal nights, one smart-casual night and four casual nights. Even the longest cruises won't have more than three smart-casual and three formal nights (with the remainder all casual).
When it comes to dinners, it's best to pack for a bit of everything, As defined by Royal Caribbean, that amounts to "casual," meaning sundresses or slacks and blouses for women and collared shirts and trousers for men; "smart casual," meaning dresses or pantsuits for women and jackets for men; and "formal," which means cocktail dresses for women and suits and ties or tuxedos for men.
Days onboard are casual. Shorts are permitted in the Great Gatsby dining room at breakfast and lunch.
There is no self-service laundry on Grandeur of the Seas, nor are irons permitted in cabins.
Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $13.50 per person, per day ($16.50 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.