1 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
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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