3 Colon (Cristobal) Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Reviews

My wife and her parents were excited to take a South Caribbean cruise last April. Have cruised out of South Florida before and thought that flying and cruising out of Panama would be different and exciting. The ports of call were Cartagena ... Read More
My wife and her parents were excited to take a South Caribbean cruise last April. Have cruised out of South Florida before and thought that flying and cruising out of Panama would be different and exciting. The ports of call were Cartagena Colombia, Bonnaire, Curacao, and Aruba. The first red flag should have been when our travel agent called 2 weeks before the cruise to inform us that this was a "Spanish Immersion Cruise." When we booked we realized that we would probably be cruising with more Latin Americans since this cruise was out of Panama- no big deal- we all grew up in South Florida, my wife's father is Cuban and the rest of us speak passable Spanish. We didn't let this alter our plans and figured we'd enjoy our cruise anyway. Flew into Panama City and got to spend a day there seeing the sites, shopping and dining and enjoying the local culture. Our cruise left on a Sunday and we met at the airport Sunday morning to catch the transfer. Beautiful drive across the country to get to the port city of Colon. Wow- Colon and the area near the port looked to be in absolute squalor. It's the stereotypical image the comes into your mind when you think of poverty in South/Central America. Garbage strewn everywhere, old abandoned and decrepit buildings, children running around in rags- it was sad to see. We got to the port and got in line to board. It was the FASTEST experience I've encountered boarding a cruise (this was my 3rd cruise). Within 20 minutes of stepping off of the transfer bus we were stepping onto the ship. This includes dropping bags off, checking in, going through security. It flew. I was impressed with how efficient the whole process was. We boarded, checked into our room and then went exploring. Our room was a typical balcony suite. Had plenty of room for the 2 of us. My first hint of something was off was the fact there were what appeared to be hundreds of passengers in bright green (neon) clothing. This was either the largest family gathering/cruise or it was something else. Our suspicions were confirmed later that evening when our head waiter informed us that this was a Herba-Life cruise- with over 1200 Herba-Lift passengers on board. Not that it made a difference (I thought)- but at least it would have been nice to be informed of this prior to booking this cruise (our travel agent had no idea). The Herba-Lifers spent a lot of time in meetings or receptions- so that freed up a lot of room by the pool, at the spa, dinners and the buffet. That was fine- what wasn't great- was the the Herba-Lifers and Latin cruisers in general (according to multiple ship employees) don't participate in many of the on-board activities. Countless activities were cancelled, whether in the casino, on the pool deck, bingo...you name it- they just didn't have the numbers. Every activity we signed up for was cancelled. Our cabin steward was awesome- she was attentive and always ready to help or offer suggestions and assistance. The waiters were also incredible- they remembered what drinks we liked, what bread we each preferred and would be constantly available. A lot of them spent extra time with us because we were one of only 8 English speaking couples on the cruise. They said they missed hearing English. The food- we were actually very disappointed in the food. I could have made sandals out of the steak, the vegetables were overcooked and the selection was very small for a cruise this size. We assumed that they had to get most of their food and supplies from either Panama or Colombia and hence the lower quality of food. I'm sure it would be different out of an American port. The entertainment was also sub-par. Shows were 20 percent full. They were all in Spanish- which was fine- but even the Spanish speaking passengers chose not to attend. One highlight of the trip was Cartagena. Beautiful old city, vibrant with great food and shopping. The fort which is enormous was incredible. We hired a taxi driver and for about $40 took us around the city all day long. Our next stop was Bonnaire. My wife and I are avid scuba divers and had booked diving trips (on our own) at each of the ABC islands. When booking the diving we gave each place our cruise ship information- what time we'd arrive- what time we had to be back...etc. What we found difficult was Royal Caribbean in their daily printed brochures and online listed the ship time as our arrival time. The ship time was 1 hour behind all of the ABC islands. Once we discovered this (our 2nd day on board) we had to quickly try to email the dive companies to let them know we'd be an hour late. Lucky for us the first 2 companies were able to wait for us to arrive. This is my first Royal Caribbean cruise and i didn't understand why they don't just list the time you arrive on the island as the actually time. This became an issue at our 3rd stop where the dive company in Aruba couldn't wait and we had to cancel (lost money) this dive. Once we found out we weren't going to make the Aruba trip we went to the excursions desk as a dive trip through the cruise line was offered. But- not surprisingly- nobody had signed up and it was also cancelled. It is what it is I guess. The diving in both Bonnaire and Curacao was absolutely gorgeous. We'd fly back just to those islands to go diving again. Aruba was nice and relaxing- we hung out on the beach and enjoyed a wonderful day. All in all we enjoyed ourselves- got to see places we probably wouldn't have gone to just flying straight there. Again- we wish the food and entertainment were better. We probably wouldn't take a cruise out of there again- but we were glad to see these new islands. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I have taken 7 previous cruises together, most of the trips with another couple that we have known since college. We have all traveled together worldwide and cruised in both the Caribbean and Europe. Three of us have been to ... Read More
My wife and I have taken 7 previous cruises together, most of the trips with another couple that we have known since college. We have all traveled together worldwide and cruised in both the Caribbean and Europe. Three of us have been to 5 continents and my wife has been to all 7 continents. I say all of this to indicate that we are all open to new experiences, however the Latin influence on this cruise was a little too much.First the good. The stops on this cruise were excellent. The ABC islands were why we booked this itinerary. We did dive all three islands and were blown away by the coral and sea life. (We didn't book our cruises through RCC, more on that later.) We also REALLY enjoyed Columbia, which was an unexpected bonus.The staff on the boat was excellent, the bartenders in the champagne bar were really friendly and a pleasure to deal with. The same could be said for the restaurant service, we were very happy with the waiter and assistant waiter.The ship itself is aging, but in very good shape. We sailed Monarch of The Seas last year for a quick Bahama getaway and found it to be very outdated, but Grandeur wears its age well.Now for the bad. The gym is slightly undersized for the size of the boat. However, there is at least a running track on deck 10 which allows you to get cardio in without waiting for a machine. The food in the Windjammer was OK, but nothing to write home about most days. By the fourth day we began to see that the selections were not rotating very much, the menus were quite repetitive. This could be a result of the Latin influence on the cruise, as I have always found that the American tastes tend to be more varied.The ship did not do a very good job of informing us of what the nightly entertainment would be in the Palladium theater. On most other ships we have always been able to find out easily what is playing that evening. One other minor issue is that there is not a "quiet" bar on ship. I know I have been spoiled by the "Michael's Club" experience on Celebrity but this is the first ship I have been on where I felt there wasn't that type of space available to sit and have a quiet drink. (Some would argue the Schooner bar, but this was the only place on the ship where the dank stench of cigarettes was omnipresent.)Now for the UGLY. Most of the ugly was not in the direct control of the cruise line. At some point RCC decided that since this was a cruise populated mostly by people from Central and South America the language of the boat would be Spanish. I have NO PROBLEM with that, however it seem to embolden the Spanish speaking guests to the point that they berated not only ship's staff but also guests that were not fluent in Spanish.The boat did not offer scuba trips in Aruba or Curacao. The cruise was promoted on the website as being scuba friendly yet no dives were offered in the first two "dive" spots and only an introduction to scuba was offered in Bonaire. To make matters worse they decided to keep the ship on Panama time, not local island time (ABC is Eastern, Panama Central) which meant our arrivals were not at the time originally stated in the cruise documents. This meant that we missed prearranged dives because the boat got in an hour later than stated based on local time.The "latin adjustment" also meant that the late dinner seating was 9:30. A little too late for most North Americas, but no worry as we could just take the 7:00 seating. The problem was that the since the dinner was late pre and post dinner music in the cetrum was adjusted for their tastes as well and was played at earsplitting levels until 1:00 in the morning. A normal 8:30 seating would usually mean any entertainment on the boat was closed down by 11. We were on the stern of the ship and could hear the salsa rhythms as though they were in the next room. When I went to complain at the center desk the cruise representative could not hear me 4 feet away and I had to repeat myself 3 times, I think that proves the point.Related to the music, there was no variety. I have been on many cruises and have found that people could always find a style that suited their tastes. Only 2 nights was the pre dinner music something other than salsa and NEVER was the post dinner music anything but salsa dance music. Even the Viking Crown lounge only had one night with top 40 music.Embarkation and Disembarkation in Colon was not well organized. There was a general lack of orderly behavior at embarkation. The lines are there for a reason and RCC needs to enforce their use. I know that Latin culture is known to not respect the traditional ques but RCC is a professional organization and should not allow it to become such a mess. People pushing forward in line, agents not helping the next in line first, and people leaving the line and returning expecting to come back to their place is something we shouldn't have to deal with in the Platinum line. I can only imagine what it was like in the other lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We arrived a day early and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard next to the Multiplaza Mall. I highly recommend this location for a hotel. The mall is high-end and has restaurants. We used www.myfriendmario.com for transportation from the ... Read More
We arrived a day early and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard next to the Multiplaza Mall. I highly recommend this location for a hotel. The mall is high-end and has restaurants. We used www.myfriendmario.com for transportation from the airport to the hotel ($12.50 per person). They also transported us to the port for $23/person. They were early and professional. It took 1 hour and a 1/2 to get to hotel from airport. It took 2 hours to get from hotel to port. In Cartagena we walked outside of the port to get a cab to the Old City. When we negotiated the rate we thought we were talking to the cab drivers. We were NOT. The people we talked to were tour guides who charge you a tour fee plus the cab fee. You need to make sure you are talking directly to the cab driver and it should be $10 to the old city. Inside the port it was $20. In Aruba, we walked to the bus station which is outside of the port and to the right. Take bus #10 to the hotel/beach area. $2.30 per person round trip. In Bonaire, we walked to Eden Beach. Walk out of port and turn left. It is a 30 minute walk. You can use the beach chairs for free and they have drink/food service. We took a taxi back for $3/person. We used www.myfriendmario.com for return to airport. It was $20/per person. IT took an hour and 15 minutes to get to airport. You can walk off the cruise ship at 6:30 am. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Grandeur of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.8
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.5 3.9
Rates N/A 4.2

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