My husband and I spent Thanksgiving week aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore. This was my fourth cruise on RC and eleventh overall, and it was DH’s first on RC and fifth overall. We’ve cruised on Carnival ... Read More
My husband and I spent Thanksgiving week aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore. This was my fourth cruise on RC and eleventh overall, and it was DH’s first on RC and fifth overall. We’ve cruised on Carnival and MSC cruise lines together. I haven’t cruised on RC since 2009, so I was curious to see what changes had been made over the years, and we were both excited to spend our first Thanksgiving at sea…
Embarkation was easy-peasy as it always is in Baltimore. We LOVE this port! We drove up and arrived at about 11:30 a.m. It only took about ½ hour to enter the parking lot, drop off luggage, pay, park, check in, and board the ship, although DH is walking-impaired, which allowed us to bypass the worst of the lines.
About the time we were checking in, I began to notice there were children everywhere….large swarms of them. As this was Thanksgiving week, we expected there would be many families with young children. Knowing children run around and make noise, I prepared for this by ordering the adult beverage package and planning to spend lots of time in adult-type areas where one wouldn’t expect them to be (ie bars and the Solarium).
SHIP & CABIN:
We liked this ship. It is small but adequate, and the crew works hard to keep her very clean despite her age. She is also very easy to maneuver, despite DH’s mobility issues.
We booked this cruise at a bargain rate for an inside guarantee cabin, and we were assigned an inside cabin on the 3rd deck, forward. The size and location were fine, and our cabin steward, Paul was wonderful. He did the best he could to please us with what he had available to him. The mattress was rock hard. I pre-requested a topper due to DH’s back issues, and it helped a little, I guess. The pillows were thin and hard. It was hard to sleep the first night due to the mattress and pillows, but we got used to them – now our bed at home feels like heaven!
We boarded and started “using” our packages. I was able to get the packages at 30% off prior to the cruise, and I HIGHLY recommend them, especially at the discount. Bar service was excellent, and the bar staff was very friendly, knowledgeable and hard-working. We especially enjoyed the atmosphere at the Schooner Bar and the staff (David!) at the Pool Bar. I highly recommend the Chocolatinis; those things were to die for!
We also had a couples’ massage the first day, which was very enjoyable and relaxing. I was also able to get this at a discount from an E-mail sent pre-cruise. TIP: If you write “no sales pitch” on the form, they won’t bother you.
I’m so glad we had such a relaxing embarkation day, because the thundering herds of unsupervised children were in full force on Day 2, our first sea day, and they never quit! There were 565 children on board this cruise. Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with kids who are polite and know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. We met some very fine young people on the ship who actually give me some hope for the future, but if I had to guess, I’d say maybe ¼ of the children on this cruise had any worthwhile parental supervision. The rest ran down the halls screaming and yelling at all hours, jumped up and down on the chairs in the Centrum, screaming, while other people were trying to enjoy musicians performing, ran and crawled on dance floors tripping adult dancers, jumped and dove into hot tubs, vomited and defecated into swimming pools, ran into elevators and pushed all of the buttons, and were pretty much nasty, unruly little beasts. Remember our plan to ignore them? Well, a family with 3 in tow invaded the Solarium, and when my husband mentioned that it was for adults, they (children and mother!) began yelling at him and calling him names. This was the standard reaction of “parents” if anyone dared say something to their kid. We even heard a pre-teen girl bragging that she had flipped off a lady who told her to leave the Solarium, and her adult family members sat there telling her she should have slapped the lady! The behavior of the majority of the children on the ship was horrifying and, for the most part, went uncorrected by the parents and crew.
We were also very troubled by an adult who frequently paced the pool deck yelling and raging at other people. He clearly had a mental health issue. He never appeared to be supervised. The first night of the cruise, my husband witnessed him smashing a cell phone on the pool deck very close to other passengers. Another day, I saw him scream and lunge at a group of small children (that was actually behaving!) and he then started hitting his head on a chair. The children were obviously frightened, and other adults expressed that they were uncomfortable. The crew did nothing.
I understand everyone wants to have their vacation, but unruly kids and other disruptive people present threats to the safety themselves and other passengers. If the crew can’t deal with such situations, they need to be trained. Doing nothing and hoping the problem will go away to placate those doing the disrupting isn’t the answer.
Off the soapbox and into the dining room, where we ate all of our dinners. Our servers, Rolando and Edith, were wonderful, and they went above and beyond to make us happy, but the food was just OK. We both preferred the MDR food on Carnival, especially for desserts. There were lobster tails the second formal night, which were good DH ordered the steak that is always on the menu a couple times, and he thought it was OK. The steak and beef cuts were cooked pretty rare. The choices were medium rare or medium well. DH ordered his medium well, which were cooked a perfect medium. Those at our table who ordered medium rare received red, bloody steaks. I had the seafood spaghetti, which was fine after adding some butter and pepper, the shrimp ravioli (meh) and some fish dishes. DH liked the salmon. The Thanksgiving turkey was good, but they only gave us a tiny spoonful of stuffing. The desserts weren't very good. Cheesecakes were very jello-like, and cakes were either spongy or dry. I did enjoy the pecan pie we had on Thanksgiving. Wines by the glass were included with our drink package, and we enjoyed the Reisling and the Berringer blush. After dinner shots were also included as long as we gave back the souvenir glasses.
We only ate one breakfast and one lunch in the Windjammer. The Windjammer food didn't impress me at all, and I've honestly had better at Golden Corral. Breakfast in the WJ was better in terms of variety, taste and quality, but it’s hard to mess up breakfast.
We didn't eat in the specialty restaurants, but we had some of the food. I went to the cooking demonstration and had some samples. The sushi samples were fabulous, and I would have gone to the sushi place had DH been more of a sushi fan. The spicy coconut shrimp was my favorite of the samples. I wasn't all that impressed with the Giovanni's Table samples. We ordered the Chops filets in the MDR. They were wonderful. DH thought his was the best steak he ever ate, and mine was up there.
We ordered room service a couple of times. The breakfast wasn’t very good, but the lunches were! I loved the honey-stung chicken, which came with sweet potato fries. The chocolate chip cookies were wonderful. We recommend the room service over the Windjammer for lunch.
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT:
We took this cruise to relax, so we mainly slept in, had leisurely meals, relaxed in the Solarium, played trivia, and did things like that. We did what we could to avoid crowds and unruly kids. We went to the Liverpool Legends (Beatles tribute band) show, which was excellent. We went to another show featuring just the ship orchestra, and it was so bad we couldn’t sit through more than 10 minutes. We tried to go to the farewell show, but there was only one showing, and the theater was stuffed with people, and (of course) we kept getting run into and jostled to by groups of unsupervised kids, so we gave up and went to the Schooner Bar for a nightcap.
PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS:
The ship went to 3 ports: Port Canaveral, CocoCay, and Nassau. We’ve been to all but CocoCay, so that is the only place we got off. We had a beach lounger there, which was nice. It was a shade over 2 beach chairs on a private beach. We recommend it, if for nothing else, for the peace and quiet and security of having your things watched over. The swim-up bar is back at CocoCay, so we enjoyed that as well as Coconut Willies. The Coco Locos were great.
It was great staying on board in Port Canaveral and Nassau while the crowds and noise-makers were off. Several people did this, but we were all like-minded. It was very relaxing – like a regular cruise.
Another breeze. We self-debarked, as I had to go back to work that morning We were off the ship, through customs, and on the road in maybe 15 minutes. Have I mentioned that we LOVE the Port of Baltimore?!
While we enjoyed our cruise, and the ship has a wonderful, hard-working crew who do everything they can with the tools available to them, there were enough “mehs” and concerns to drag the whole experience down. Overall, we give the cruise a 3, but that’s mostly because we had the drink package to dull the horror of hundreds of unruly brats onboard with no supervision or consequences Read Less