1,839 Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We just returned yesterday from a 7 night cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas with the Western Caribbean Itinerary; Progresso, Cozumel and Key West. We are in our 40's and brought our two nieces 11 & 13. We booked a suite mid ... Read More
We just returned yesterday from a 7 night cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas with the Western Caribbean Itinerary; Progresso, Cozumel and Key West. We are in our 40's and brought our two nieces 11 & 13. We booked a suite mid ship #8530 and were pleased with the location and the size of the balcony. This was our first cruise experience and thought the ship was beautiful. We have been to many Caribbean resorts and the pictures always appeared to be much better than when you arrived at the resort. The Grandeur was as beautiful as any of the pictures I have seen prior to the cruise. The weather was perfect, the service in the dining room excellent and the food was better than expected. We especially enjoyed the entertainment on board. Here is a recap of our cruise experience. The Entertainment - We especially enjoyed the Royal Caribbean Dancers and Singers. We were very surprised at how well the performers performed (in par with Opryland in Nashville before they closed down the park). We saw two of their shows; one a musical about the 70's 80's and 90's music and another one called the Tapestry which was a salute to Carol King. The comedians also did a great job in making us all laugh. The magic show was O.K. but compared to the other shows, this was my least favorite. The Ports and Excursions - Progresso -My husband always wanted to visit Chitzen Itza as he is a studious type. This ruin is very extensive with many other ruins on the site. The trip was very educational although it was very hot and uncomfortable at times. The property itself is quite large and we did a lot of walking. We also climbed the pyramid to the top, 91 steps and climbed inside the pyramid to see the Jaguar that was a climb half way about 40 steps. The steps were very narrow and dangerous. We passed the beach on the way to the ruins and the water looked muddy. From hearing fellow cruisers who visited the town of Progresso, there was not much to see. Cozumel - We wanted to go on the Snorkel/Caterman/Beach Tour but it was completely booked so we opted to go to the beach at Playa Del Sol. The cost was less than $100 for the four of us and we really enjoyed this beach as it was a large beach with clear water and it had so much to offer. The cost included unlimited rum punch/wine/beer/water and soft drinks. In addition, floats, beach chairs and umbrellas were included. Also, there was a large pool, a petting zoo for kids, and for additional charge, diving, snorkeling and parasailing was available. Key West - The problem with this stop is that we did not get off the ship until after 2:30 p.m. We walked about a mile down to a bar called "Beach Club" which had a small public beach adjacent to the open-air restaurant/bar. We have visited Key West in the Past and the beach is definitely not that great as they hardly have any. Shopping in the Keys is always fun and there are plenty of shops to choose from. The problem with this port is that there just wasn't enough time to do everything. We went down for the sunset celebration and returned to the boat as many of the shops started closing down after 8:00 p.m. Dining - The food was better than we expected at both of the dining rooms. We ate many meals at the Windjammer as we enjoyed the salad selection and the flexibility in the schedules. We opted for the late seating since many people advised us that it would be better for excursions so that we would not be rushed. The problem with the late seating is that we were always hungry prior to 8:30. This made us eat more because many times we stopped by the Solarium for hamburgers, pizzas and hot dogs couple hours prior to dinner which meant we ate 4 meals a day! The Kids Club - Both of the nieces enrolled in the kids club. They both had a great time and the 13 year old's group had organized activities until 1:30 in the morning. My 13 year old niece was so busy having fun with the other kids that we did not see much of her at dinner or at lunch. In fact, we hardly saw her at all! The 11 year old also made friends but their program ended at 10:00 p.m. and she generally was with us during the day. There were a few problems with our stateroom but I guess things just break down more often on a ship than a hotel. The first night my bathroom flooded because the drain overflowed when I let the bath water out. I learned to drain the tub slowly so that this would not happen again. The toilet did not always flush. Sometimes there was a delay of a few minutes to 30 minutes before flushing. Also, I had to call the maintenance a few times from the hall because we had phone problems. Our safe would not open sometimes and once the maintenance had to come in and fix our vault. The ship was very crowded as we cruised during spring/Easter break. The outside pool area was small especially compared to the number of people there. Sometimes there were no chairs available by the pool. Most people would lay the towel down early in the day and keep it for the whole day. The Windjammer always seemed crowded and there was always a huge line for people wanting omelet, made to order. Even with some of the down sides, overall, our cruise experience was enjoyable. For families, I can't think of a better vacation to take together. We will definitely cruise again. Especially with RCI Cruise line as we loved the shop and their service was excellent. Tonikihara@aol.com August 2003 Read Less
Our cruise line was Royal Caribbean and the ship we sailed on was Grandeur of the Seas. Our cruise was a seven day Western Caribbean visiting Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Progreso. Our overall rating of this cruise is fair. The ship ... Read More
Our cruise line was Royal Caribbean and the ship we sailed on was Grandeur of the Seas. Our cruise was a seven day Western Caribbean visiting Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Progreso. Our overall rating of this cruise is fair. The ship seemed "well worn" and in desperate need of an overall refurbishing. The deck chairs looked scary and we always used a towel to cover up the bad stains on the chairs. Our cabin was OK. The club chair in our cabin was badly stained and worn. The bedspread was looked like it needed to be replaced. I got very tired reading about how Royal Caribbean is saving the environment. There was even a card hanging in the bathroom. I thought this was ironic, since they are the only cruise line to be fined for dumping garbage overboard. I understand they were fined millions of dollars. Maybe the "save the waves" program is part of their sentence and restitution. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier about 15 minutes before the closing time so there were no crowds, no waiting in long lines or other problems. I really can't say how they handled the large crowds during the rush. Food: The food was just OK. It always seemed "massed produced." Aboard any cruise line all food is massed produced, but it seemed especially so, aboard the Grandeur. The service in the dinning room was good. Our assistant waiter was just brand new and was so scared not to make a mistake, that he caused many problems for the main waiter. You could sense the tension between them. One night the assistant Mater'd was helping our waiter clean the tables which is normally the assistant waiter's job. The head waiter would bring out the deserts ready to set them down in front of us and we still had our dinner plates. He would have to set down the deserts and clean the table. They did not work very well together as a team. The waiter always recommended the best choice. On several occasions we did not follow his recommendation and suffered through bland, overcooked food. The food was not up to what we have come to expect when cruising. The entertainment was very good. The dancers and routines were very professional and enjoyable. I got very tired of listing the cruise director and the shopping assistant. The pre-destination information was nothing but a "QVC" shopping presentation. During the entire cruise I got very tired of being "QVC'ed" to death. The lady making the presentations was irritating to say the least. You couldn't get away from her. She was even on a TV channel in your room. Needless to say I didn't watch that channel. I missed having a movie aboard ship. I've always liked to set down in a dark theater and see the latest movie. There were movies but it was only during the afternoon's when we were in port. I don't think they were very well attended. I felt the shore excursions were way overpriced. While at Cozumel we went to Passion Island and had a very nice day. Don't miss this one. While at Grand Cayman we went on the turtle farm tour. Very disappointed in this one. Don't waste your time on this one. The bus driver/tour guide was not very friendly and didn't go out of his was to make us feel comfortable. On the bus we sat a couple of seats behind him. The couple right in front of us asked him several questions while he was driving and he refused to even acknowledge them or answer them. He totally ignored them. If he didn't want to be distracted while driving he could have at least the courtesy to explain why he didn't answer the questions. Overall I would say the cruise was OK. If we had to do it again I don't think we would choose the Grandeur. We've been on five cruises and I think this would rank near the bottom. keith@ia.main.usu.edu February 2003 Read Less
Just returned from a seven day Western Caribbean cruise on Grandeur of the Seas, departing from New Orleans. I had read many cruise reviews before booking, and a surprising number of those reviews made this ship out to be 'dirty' ... Read More
Just returned from a seven day Western Caribbean cruise on Grandeur of the Seas, departing from New Orleans. I had read many cruise reviews before booking, and a surprising number of those reviews made this ship out to be 'dirty' and 'unkempt', had complained about the food's 'lack of taste' and the 'mediocre service'. You can take my cruise review for what it's worth, but in my opinion, this ship was excellent in every way. I would have to think very hard to come up with any complaints at all. In fact I am amazed that the crew can service over 2,000 people with such consistency. It's impressive. This is our second cruise, both on Royal Caribbean. Previously we took a four-day cruise to Nassau and Coco Cay on Sovereign of the Seas, and it was very good. Our cruise on Grandeur was even better. Boarding was easy in New Orleans. Fifteen minutes from taxi to stateroom. Our room was ready when we boarded at 12:30 PM (inside cabin 4563, main deck, right behind the Champagne Bar just off the Centrum). The room was exactly what we had expected. We paid a few dollars extra for a slightly larger inside cabin, and there was plenty of room for two. The bathroom layout is great - it's a small space but works perfectly. The shower is narrow - it was impossible to wash my feet, and I'm only 180 pounds - can't imagine how a 250 pounder could take a shower in that little area. But everything worked perfectly - drains, hot water, water pressure, etc. Cabin attendant (Agusto) showed up in the first fifteen minutes, and we only saw him again when we happened to pass him in the hallway. But he did a great job of keeping our room tidy - left us towel animals regularly. Gave him a tip in excess of the guidelines. He earned it. Dinner was main seating and we were lucky in our table assignment. Our table was out in the front-center of the dining room, right next to the piano/waterfall. It was a table for six, with couples from Iowa and Arkansas (we're from upstate NY). Really nice people who made dinner each night very interesting. Our waiter was Gino ( 'Gino Cappuccino') from Turkey. Can't spell or pronounce his real name, but he goes by Gino. May be the best waiter on the ship - and he told us he is in training to become a headwaiter. For the entire cruise the food was top shelf and the service impeccable. Gino catered to our every whim with a smile and a joke. Couldn't ask for anything more. His assistant was Andrea from Rumania. We loved the food - over the week we had lobster, filet mignon, rack of lamb, prime rib, pork wellington and other dishes. All were tasty and well presented. Deserts were to die for - if you have the chance, don't miss the flourless chocolate cake and the fudge cake. WOW. The peach and apple cobblers with ice cream were pretty good too. We ate breakfast each day in the Windjammer buffet. There was a great selection of breakfast food, and they have eggs cooked to order, including omelets. Several kinds of breakfast meat, several styles of potatoes, pancakes, French toast, waffles, fresh baked muffins, many different kinds of bread, including toast, bagels and English muffins, at least a dozen different fresh fruits, yogurts, cereals, oatmeal, grits, etc. Can't think of any breakfast food that was not available. Even had lox and cream cheese for the bagels. We were only disappointed in the coffee. It's pretty flavorless. Couldn't figure out why, as it was pretty good in the dining room at dinner. Never ate much lunch, but we did have a couple of sandwiches from the Windjammer. They were pretty good. Had a couple cheeseburgers from the Solarium - liked them. They also had fries and pizza. Had one hot dog and it was pretty good. Missed the chocolate buffet - heard from others it was very good. We tried just a little bit of the midnight buffet and it was OK. Bar service was great. Made some new friends of the bartenders. If you stick to the standard drinks and domestic beers, the prices aren't too bad. If you buy fancy drinks, expect to pay a lot. If you want fancy drinks or wine, you should buy the 12-drink card for $39.00 plus 15% gratuity. The regular price of a glass of wine is over $5.00 including the 15% gratuity, but with the card, it comes out to about $3.75 including gratuity. It is a good buy, and you will save over $1.00 each glass. And you can do what I did and smuggle a bottle of vodka on the ship in your checked luggage. Don't try this in your carry-on luggage, as they x-ray it at boarding and will hand check any bottle in your bag. There is an alcohol confiscation table right next to the x-ray machine. They must not x-ray the checked luggage, as my vodka made it on board OK. We only drank the vodka in our room and at the pool, where we mixed it with lemonade from the Windjammer. Probably saved $100 or more. The ship's entertainment was pretty good too. The headliner was 'The Platters'. The audience seemed to really love them. There were also three comedians (two of which were excellent), an illusionist who had great props and reminds me of a young David Copperfield. I can't comment on the production shows, as we didn't attend any. Not our thing. There is a good rock band for dancing, who also played country music for the line dance party, and soft guitar elevator music for the Captain's Cocktail Party and the Repeater's Party. They were very good musicians (Western Canadians), who seem to be very adaptable. Both the Captain's Party and the Repeater's Party were worth attending. Free cocktails and snacks from the Captain and free champagne and snacks for the Repeaters. Captain Zini is about 35 years old, from Argentina, and he's really a hoot. Can't believe such a young guy can be in charge of such a large ship. Very impressive, and a pretty good speaker too. Always had a joke or two when he made his daily announcements from bridge. Casino was a mixed bag. The slot machines are TIGHT. I won $200 over the cruise at the blackjack tables. There are two $5.00 tables and two $10.00 tables, along with Caribbean Stud and Let it Ride. There is a roulette and a craps table too. Never really had to wait long for blackjack. It got very busy just before and just after dinner. They had slot and blackjack tournaments that were fun. Cost $20.00 per entry and they returned the money in prizes. The winner of the slot tournament won about $600, but I can't remember what the blackjack winner won. The ports of call on this Western Caribbean cruise leave something to be desired. Grand Cayman is basically nothing more than a series of duty free shopping malls. We took a snorkeling excursion that never left the bay - we couldn't have been more than a mile from where the ship was anchored. The reef was OK, but nothing great. Then they took us about 300 yards from the reef where we snorkeled over a wreck. Not much there - only the skeleton of a sailing ship that sunk in 1907. Kind of a waste of time. But we had an OK time - it was better than shopping, which is what this port is designed for. We like to eat in local restaurants, but couldn't even find one. Ended up with burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe. Real disappointing. Cozumel was a little better. We took the Fiesta Party Boat excursion, and it was everything we expected - a real booze cruise. The problem is that they served rum punch and margaritas on the way to Play Del Sol Beach, and beer on the return. I really didn't like the drinks on the way over, so I didn't drink much. They set up a bar at the beach and kept the free rum punch and margaritas flowing, but I bought beer from the beach vendors (which, by the way, was very reasonably priced). The beach was really nice, with lots to do and see. On the return trip, the beer was flowing and there was lots of dancing and other entertainment. Really didn't see anyone who got really drunk - but there were lots of people with a buzz on. We had a good time overall, and I would recommend this excursion if you don't have kids with you. The third and final port was Progresso, Mexico, which is a waste of time. It's a poor area of the Yucatan, and we took the shuttle to the beach in town, where the beach vendors just wouldn't leave us alone. They sell souvenirs, coins, cheap jewelry, etc. up and down the beach, and the same guy tried to sell me some worthless coins about 4 times in 30 minutes. Literally every thirty seconds there is someone trying to sell you something. After less than an hour there we couldn't stand it any more (it must have been over 100 degrees in the sun too), so we returned to the ship and spent the rest of the day by the pool. I have a feeling that there must be a financial benefit for Royal Caribbean to use this port - there couldn't be any other reason. The return trip to New Orleans was uneventful - cold and rainy when we got there. Debarkation was pretty good - It took about ½ hour for our color to be called, and once called, it only took about ½ hour more to exit the ship and get on the bus to the airport. I suggest you use a porter in the arrival hall. I gave the guy $2.00 per bag for three bags, and he knew how to get us out of there in the quickest way. Well worth the $6.00, and we didn't have to carry those heavy bags at all. He unloaded them right at the bus. By the way, we filled out our Customs declaration forms, and we never saw one Customs agent or Immigration Service agent on the way out. We could have had thousands of dollars worth of stuff and there was no inspection whatsoever. I came home with my declaration form in my pocket. That's strange, and I'm a little bit uncomfortable about it. I fly internationally quite a bit, and there is ALWAYS an immigration and customs inspection upon my return to the airport. I would recommend this cruise to almost anyone. There is something on this cruise for everyone of every age group, and you would have to work at it to be bored. But if you are interested in interesting ports of call, I would suggest either the Eastern or Southern Caribbean. We have no regrets about this cruise, but will not cruise the Western Caribbean again, unless we get the cruise for free. But we will be cruising on Royal Caribbean again, as they have their act together and provide great value. gary.r.collis@lmco.com June 2003 Read Less
Grandeur of the Seas Review By Miriam Romain - aka Host Mir7 I'll start this off by saying that we approached this cruise much differently from the past four we've taken. In the past, we've booked a cruise in July for ... Read More
Grandeur of the Seas Review By Miriam Romain - aka Host Mir7 I'll start this off by saying that we approached this cruise much differently from the past four we've taken. In the past, we've booked a cruise in July for October or November. We've also have been gone for at least two weeks. Well, because my husband got a new job in January, we were unable to take our usual two-week cruise and July came and went. In August we were talking about how we weren't going on a cruise, when my husband found out he could take one week. I looked at some of the last minute fares on the Internet and couldn't decide if we wanted to throw caution to the wind and book a cruise because of the ship or itinerary. We decided on itinerary and best deal. We found a great deal on a ship we wanted to see and I called a TA I know from the boards and told him what we had found. Well, not only did he come back with a better price on what we had found, but he came back with a couple of options for us, one being a cabin with a balcony that was very affordable! I had been dreading not having a balcony, but that problem was solved quickly. It was made even better when we were upgraded to a mini suite at the back of the ship, my favorite place! The cruise we chose, on the Grandeur, was our first on Royal Caribbean (can you believe it?). We knew this ship was going to be much larger than ships we've sailed on, especially the past two years, but I was looking forward to a change of pace. We also knew, from past experience, what could happen when sailing during hurricane season and we were willing to take our chances. We've missed ports before, we were both seasick once, and I've watched my bowl of consommE slide down the table. It didn't matter. The point was for my husband and I to have some time together since we're both so busy at home! We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and because we had purchased RCI transfers, we found the RCI person and told her that we had to tag our luggage. We wanted to make sure it had at least made it to Florida! We found it, tagged it and put it back on the carousel, as directed, and then we were directed to a bus for a ride to Miami. Because it was Saturday, there was no traffic and the trip lasted only about 35 minutes. Check-in Before we could check in, all of our paperwork had to be filled out. Because this was a last-minute trip, we had been so busy we forgot to fill out anything! So, we hurried and filled out the necessary forms and walked in expecting to wait for a while in line. Much to our surprise, there was no line! There was an available person to check us in. It went quickly and we stepped onto the ship! I was a little disappointed that when we showed our cabin number we were told we were on Deck 4 and had to take the elevator up to Deck 7 and walk to the back of the ship. I had expected to be escorted. Okay, so RCI does things different from my experiences on Renaissance and Celebrity. It was a looooooong walk to the back of the ship, but we were in our cabin by 1:30 and we weren't to sail until five. Our Cabin I had read on our boards that the RCI cabins were small in comparison with other ships, so I wasn't expecting to have too much room, even in a mini-suite. How wrong I was! The room was plenty big for the two of us. We had the bed, and a sofa and chair. There was more than enough storage room for all of our stuff except our suitcases, which we stood up in a far corner of the room. I did not understand the wisdom of putting a set of drawers in the closet. I thought that space (to the far right as you look at the closet) would have made a perfect spot for the suitcases. The bathroom was plenty big, and we had a tub, which was a nice touch for us. We didn't get any toiletries until the second or third day, but that didn't matter to us. But the best feature, by far, was the balcony, at least for me. It was much larger than I expected, and very deep. We had four lounge chairs, one regular chair and a small round table on that balcony! Plus, the balcony above us covered part of it, so the two times we cruised through light showers I was able to keep dry and continue reading my book. Our cabin steward, Tracey, was wonderful! He was always smiling and joking with us. He kept calling me Miss Miriam and asking if there was anything we needed. The first day at sea, when we walked back to our cabin, we thought that we were in the wrong place because a sign had been put on our door - No Smoking Oxygen in Use! Tracey saw my husband's CPAP that he wears for his sleep apnea and thought it was oxygen. It was great. Anyone who wanted to visit us would know not to smoke. Unfortunately, we had to borrow an extension cord because we forgot one. We found there were very few outlets in the room, but we figured it all out. My one complaint about our cabin was that we were directly above the Pacific Lounge and you could hear the music at night. Luckily, the band (which was not good at all) stopped performing at 1 a.m., so it wasn't so bad. I cannot imagine having to listen to that music all night! Checking out the ship As we were walking around this beautiful ship, we found the line for people who wanted to change their dinner seatings. My husband wanted to make sure we were at a table for two. Unfortunately, we were assigned to a table for four and the maitre d' made no promises that he could help us, just that he would try, but all the tables for two were taken. My husband was not a happy camper as we checked out where things were on the ship. The Centrum with the glass elevators was beautiful! There was one thing that struck me about the ship that I didn't understand. Remember I said it was a looooooooong walk to the back of the ship? Why is there not another set of elevators half way between those at the Centrum and the back of the ship? I certainly got a lot more exercise than I had bargained for! We checked out the different bars and the restaurant and went back to our cabin to hopefully unpack. Much to our great surprise, there was a message on our door when we returned that we had been moved to a table for two at the second seating, which is exactly what we wanted! We're supposed to leave, where's my suitcase? At 4:30 I was getting antsy about our luggage when my husband's suitcase was delivered. Well, one of us could unpack. Yes, he had his own suitcase and I had mine. The thing is, I knew this cruise was not going to start the way I had imagined it because I wouldn't be able to have a glass of wine and sip that while we were leaving port. This is my very favorite thing to do on a cruise and why I love the back of the ship. I can sit there, sip wine and think back on the day we'd just had. It is pure bliss for me! Well, we left port and my suitcase still had not arrived, which meant that the bottle of wine I'd packed wasn't there either. I was rather ticked off. I thought that since we got to the ship so early, our luggage would be one of the first to be delivered. Wrong. But, it did finally arrive around 6:30! What had happened? My luggage tag showing our cabin number had come off and they had to find me by name on the manifest. I can understand that. So I calmed down and opened that bottle of wine! The Restaurant and Food Going back to first and second seatings was a little strange for me because I'd gotten so used open seating on Renaissance (which I really, really liked). But, we had a great table for two on the second floor, or rather balcony, of The Great Gatsby dining room. We were right at the steps, so we could see the entire main floor. We also had great seats for people watching as everyone arrived for dinner! Service in the dining room was incredible. Our waiter, Naveen, and assistant waiter Rolly, were excellent. They knew after the first night that we always wanted a fresh bottle of Pelligrino water (yes, we pay for it at restaurants at home, too), and the wine steward was very attentive. In fact, I noticed the last night that after I had finished my bottle of wine, he was still serving me someone else's! The label was different! Our headwaiter, Tony, stopped by to talk to us every night, sometimes more than once. Ours was the FUN table! The food, overall (and this is MY opinion) was fair at best. The best meal was the second formal night when we had lobster and filets. In keeping with the jovial mood we had set with Naveen I ordered surf and turf! The lobster was so good, we each had two! Talk about being stuffed after dinner! Other than that, I didn't find anything to write home about. I was disappointed that there was only one salad offered each evening. I wish there had been at least two to choose from. I did not care for the one listed most nights and I'm not a picky eater. I'm also not a dessert eater, but my husband is and he said the desserts, overall, were fair. We never went to the Windjammer for breakfast, electing instead to have breakfast each morning in the room. It helped keep the days more relaxing for us. It also kept my husband from eating things on the buffet he knows he shouldn't have. We always ordered tea for two so I could have the hot water to make my own coffee in the French Press I always carry with me on cruises. My luggage always smells like coffee because we grind the coffee the night before we leave. I used to wonder where to put the coffee grinds after finishing the coffee, but I now carry extra Zip Lock bags. They work great. Lunches in the Windjammer were pretty good. We never really waited in a line, and were always able to find a table. Guess we were lucky. We also went every day to tea at 4 since we were at the late seating. There was some interesting food there, too. I passed by the desserts, but found other things. And the servers always came by to ask if my husband wanted ice cream, which he usually did! One night we were invited to dine with another couple at their table because they had two extra seats. We had to clear it with Naveen and Tony and then with their headwaiter, but it all worked out fine. It was strange, though. Our service upstairs was much better than downstairs, where we were guests. The waiter was not as friendly as ours was. Oh, and because my husband is rather large and has a bad back he requested a different chair. That was not a problem, but the night we dined downstairs, Naveen brought the chair down to him! Days at Sea There is no end to activities on days you are at sea. We liked to sleep late - well, we were on vacation -- have breakfast in the room and then see what was going on. My husband talked me into partaking in the wine tasting that was offered one day. It cost $9.50. I thought that was a bit steep, but I still had fun. I have no idea what he did since he doesn't drink and it didn't interest him. I even won a bottle of wine! In fact, I was sitting with a young woman who was on her honeymoon and she also won a bottle of wine, but it was a red, and she did not drink red wine. I won a bottle of white wine (a very good wine) and, being the sport I am, I traded with her. Afterall, it was her honeymoon! I like good red wines as well as white, and this one was pretty good! We also liked the art auctions. After having bought some artwork on two Celebrity cruises and having the right knowledge about what we collect, we were able to get some real bargains! For instance, I collect animation cels - but actual cels, not serigraphs. There has been one cel I've been searching for, and I found it on this cruise of all places! A Tasmanian Devil. It's rare, which is why I've been looking for three years and not seen it, and I got a GREAT deal! A word of warning about the art auctions, though. They are run by Park West Galleries and as I understand it, RCI was the first to have the auctions on board and responsible for it spreading to other ships. That's not the warning. The warning is that you need to look at your receipts when you get them. Park West will send up to five pieces for $30 or $35. If you buy artwork at two different auctions, as we did, you need to tell the auctioneer to adjust the shipping if you have five or fewer pieces. Also, they add a fee for an appraisal. It's not needed. In our case, we got the Certificates of Authenticity (they arrived today - 10/17/00) and the cels are stamped in a way that shows they are authentic. In our case, when we had the appraisal fees deducted, we saved ourselves at least $100. Every little bit helps. And why does everyone want to give me wine? The art auctioneer gave us a bottle of champagne because he liked us. Maybe it's because we knew what we were doing, I don't know. It was a pretty nice champagne! My husband found his favorite reading spot was in the Library while mine was on our balcony! We did not venture up to the pool except at lunch, and it was very crowded. We're not sun worshippers, but I love my balcony! Nightlife on the ship My husband and I tried to make all the shows after dinner in the Palladium Theater, but I think we missed one. The shows were very good. We had not seen this quality of entertainment on any of our previous cruises (well, except one). We went to see Karoke and my husband was going to sign up until he saw the people who were performing. Roger's got a GREAT voice, but didn't think he was in the class of the people who were actually singing. They were wonderful! We thought the first night they were shills, but found out differently. I've already mentioned my opinion of the band in the Pacific Lounge, and will leave it at that. We really enjoyed the Newlywed Not So Newlywed game. Last year we were rooked into it on another cruise and I know how difficult and intimidating it is up in front of everyone. But, the funniest thing of the cruise occurred during this game. The women had answered the way they thought the husbands would and then the husbands came out. The question was - What is your favorite condiment? The answer one guy gave was Trojans! I'm still laughing! I was a little disappointed in the casino. Neither of us smokes, so we were careful to go to the no smoking area. There are signs everywhere, including on the slot machines, but it didn't make any difference to some people. There was only one roulette table that had smokers around it, too. I can tolerate some smoke, but not when it's being blown in my face and certainly when I'm sitting in the no smoking section. Oh well. RCI didn't get too much of our money this trip. And, someone actually won a big jackpot one night on the slots. Each night in the Centrum, there's a singer who performs nightclub songs. She was wonderful. We'd sit and watch her before going in to dinner and usually go back for a short time before returning to the cabin. Ports of Call Our ports of call were Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas and CocoCay. We took our time getting on the tender to Labadee and spent about 1.5 hours there. It was very hot, but we found a hammock in the shade and stayed there for a while. I went to the small market there and bought the obligatory T-shirt and we went back to the ship. It had rained that morning, but there were people who had done the waverunners and said they had fun. We'd been to San Juan and St. Thomas before, but found Butterfly People in San Juan to be amazing. We were glad that RCI had lounges on both islands to cool off and get a cold drink! We did a little shopping in St. Thomas and called it a day. We went snorkeling in CocoCay. The morning outing was very nice. We saw some cool fish and only one jellyfish. After lunch on the island, we went back one more time to snorkel, but the tide was coming in and the seas were getting rough and the jellyfish were becoming too numerous for me! This and That We loved the ship. It really is beautiful and I hope to sail the Grandeur again very soon. We met some wonderful people from around the world, and that is always fun. It was also nice not being the youngest ones on the ship! Yes, there were some kids, but I did not see many of them except one night when they were dressed as Pirates and came through the dining room. I heard that there was some trouble near the hot tubs, but not until after the cruise. As I said before, this ship was larger than we'd ever been on but the only two times it felt crowded was the last night of the cruise when the show times were different and when we were trying to find our luggage when we left the ship! Would I sail on an RCI ship again? YOU BET. But first, I have a trip on the Dawn Princess planned for December. I booked that one the night before we left for the Grandeur. Read Less
10-day Circle the Caribbean My wife and I just completed our 18th cruise, this first time on a Royal Caribbean Ship. We booked a Category B Suite on the Bridge Deck # 8014. Whatever you do, DO NOT select a cabin on the Bridge Deck ... Read More
10-day Circle the Caribbean My wife and I just completed our 18th cruise, this first time on a Royal Caribbean Ship. We booked a Category B Suite on the Bridge Deck # 8014. Whatever you do, DO NOT select a cabin on the Bridge Deck Forward as you will be under the Windjammer Cafe. That sounds like a minor problem but believe me it is not! We were located Port side under the outdoor portion of the Windjammer Cafe which opens for breakfast at 6:00 or 6:30 AM. It really did not matter exactly when because the Coffee machine was outside the cafe and early risers started attacking the coffee at about 5:45 every morning although I don't understand the attraction since the coffee frankly SUCKED. But nevertheless, promptly every morning in the midst of our beauty sleep were we awakened by the god awful noise coming from people dragging the heavy wooden chairs and benches around to suit their needs. Further these chairs and benches naturally have "anti-skid" pads attached to their legs which adds to the racket! Apparently this is a know problem which cannot be addressed until the ship is sent to dry dock and some serious insulation is added above the ceiling. Our cabin steward says he hears this complaint every cruise for every cabin. We complained to the Guest Relations Manager, who while apologetic could do nothing since the ship was full and only a few emergency inside cabins were available. She did provide us with an onboard credit of $200 - big deal. And that was not all! The band - "The Caribbean Four" played on a wooden platform on the Port side near our cabin. All the time, all day, and until 12:45 in the morning on some days! Lots of Bass and very loud, to the point that you could not even enjoy the balcony which was very nice and quite large although very noisy. So as long as you do not sleep in the morning, afternoon, evening, or before 1:00 AM you will be fine, otherwise it WILL suck. Sorry to be so blunt, but I find it incredulous that the Premium Suites would be located in such a poor location. We would have been better off down a deck in a Category C and saving the money and aggravation. It borders on Fraud to charge premium prices for that batch of cabins given the conditions. I am waiting to hear from Guest Relations regarding some sort of adjustment, but I am not holding my breath ( but then neither is my attorney). Now that I scared you away from those Suites let me say that the ship itself is very nice and the service throughout is generally very good to excellent. Certainly or cabin steward, waiter, busboy and Headwaiter were attentive and excellent. The headwaiters, by the way, are now also your wine stewards so that is why they are constantly around. This is a nice improvement over never seeing them, eliminates an unnecessary position, and give the Headwaiters an opportunity to earn gratuities as evidenced by the pre-printed envelopes provided. No problem - they earned their money this trip. The ship is showing some signs of wear although it is fairly new - built in 1997 I believe. It is easy to navigate, has sufficient deck space for sun bathers and good public areas. The "Welcome Duo" in the Atrium are very good and the entertainment throughout is good. The food was not excellent in the Gatsby Dining Room. It definitely needs improvement. Having sailed on 6 HAL cruises where the food is always well prepared although somewhat bland, I can safely tell you that the RCL food was sub-par. Our waiter took to recommending only one entrEe every night and when we selected something else we found he was correct. It was difficult to find a really good meal each evening and the beef dishes were absolutely terrible and so was the fish and the pasta was really bad! The lamb was good - and the final night prime rib was passable. Desserts were great, breads wonderful, salads disappointing and veggies mediocre. The escargot were pitiful! The food in the Windjammer was generally OK for lunch and breakfast. The Hamburgers and Pizza at the Solarium Pool were OK to good depending on the day. The Islands were great although we have been to all of them with the exception of Curacao which was really nice. We enjoyed sitting on the esplanade having a couple Amstel Brights and watching the pontoon bridge swing open and closed for various ships. Very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I still wonder why any cruise ship stop in Jamaica - there are constant stories about busloads of tourists being accosted and robbed at gunpoint. I believe they are true - when will these natives learn about tourist dollars? Embarkation was a slow line that took about an hour and then of course you must suffer the built-in pause for the ship photographers...oh well. Getting off was silly since they called the baggage tag colors too close together and created a huge line in the Atrium for no apparent reason since everyone was already out of their rooms. Too bad about the poor food quality and whatever you do save you money and avoid the noise problems we suffered! RCL need to either fix the problem with the Suite or stop selling them. I suppose they could use them for complimentary "upgrades" and hardly anyone would complain. Whatever happened to honesty in advertising? timjanos@adelphia.netMarch 2002 Read Less
The first thing I want to say is thanks to everyone [on the Cruise Boards] who helped make my first cruise so enjoyable. I will try to be very objective with my review and tell the good along with the bad. We left Pittsburgh Saturday ... Read More
The first thing I want to say is thanks to everyone [on the Cruise Boards] who helped make my first cruise so enjoyable. I will try to be very objective with my review and tell the good along with the bad. We left Pittsburgh Saturday Oct.21, 2000 , at 7:15am, arrived in Atlanta at 9:05 am, and flew out of Atlanta at 9:50 am (Delta airlines, was one of the best flights and service I every received........arrived in Miami, was met by a Royal Caribbean representative and let to our transfer bus....on the bus as we reached the pier a representative told us what tickets to take out of the book and what to get ready...did all the checking in they issued you your card, took your picture, one of very many and on the boat you were...very, very efficient.....very easy. Once on the ship you are just so amazed at the largeness and beauty of it all. Our cabin was 7557 inside stateroom. Very nice, roomy lets say ample space....We left off our carry ons and went up to the Windjammer for a buffet welcome lunch. We ate and walked around a bit and went back to our room. We meet our cabin steward his name was Vincent...advised us of a few things and off he went.........Well, we traveled around the ship trying to get acquainted with it and I also changed my dinner seating to the Main seating from the 2nd seating, they were sure glad to see me as they said they had a long waiting list for second sitting. Our luggage arrived around 5 m just in time to get ready for dinner. The first night they said was very casual, I wore a sun dress my husband wore dress shorts and a shirt and that was more than fine. We meet our table companions, two other couples, they were originally from Russia and had moved to New York around 8 to 10 years ago. They spoke some English and we all conversed in our own way.... they were wonderful people, we enjoyed their company tremendously throughout the cruise. Dinners......Our waiter was Erkan from Turkey, he was wonderful, wonderful (if only I was younger lol)....he made the vacation, could not be more helpful, joked around was very polite.....just cannot say enough good about him. The dinners were good, I would say fabulous but good, if you didn't like something he would get you something else, they would be absolutely no reason why you would leave the table dissatisfied. Breakfast and Lunch...... We ate breakfast the first couple days at the Windjammer and then decided to try the Great Gatsby, I never went back to the Windjammer again. Lunch we only ate lunch a few times and that was once at the Windjammer and the other times at the Great Gatsby. They would be absolutely no reason to go hungry, room service was 24 hours a day....and every evening when we got back to our room we ordered a fresh fruit plate and a cheese plate. ( I keep dialing #56 but no one answers since I have been home lol ). We are not big alcohol drinkers so could not really say anything . Pools..............The solarium was very beautiful, but it was entirely to hot and stuffy for me in there (you see I am going thru that hot flash thing )......but it was very pretty. The outdoor pool was very, very small and so crowded....all the chairs were pretty well taken, especially the ones in the sun close to the pool, which was fine for us, because I enjoyed the shade by the open windows to feel the ocean breeze....but, we never had trouble getting a chair, and you could have as many towels as you please. The water began at 5ft and I do not swim, and I am short so I mostly sat at the edge of the pool and kept splashing myself to stay cool...it was fine with me.... Enjoyed the belly flop contest, I was going to enter but besides it being all men, I can't swim and it was int he 5ft water ....so that ended that, but had a good time cheering everyone on. The shows.........we went to every one of the shows and just enjoyed them tremendously, they were all wonderful in their own was, really, really, enjoyed them. I am doing this review in parts as I have so much to say, usually I am a quiet person (boy what a lie lol )....I want to say one nice surprise when we arrived we had champagne waiting in our room from our travel agent which was a very nice surprise. I also want to say one of the only disappointments and believe me when I say it really didn't matter........was our cabin steward, Vincent, we seen him the first day, and once more after that...and that was it....he really didn't go out of his way for anything......the room was clean, but just clean...........but hey, it really didn't make a big difference to us. We basically don't like to be all fussed over anyway. (who are we kidding???? lol ).......I want to say the majority of all the staff were very friendly and helpful...they really tried to make a nice time for you...it is hard to believe the hours these people work and how they remain with smiles on their face constantly is unbelievable, the way some people treat them, I know I wouldn't last, a lot of them would have big lumps on their heads from where I would drop the plates, etc., on them. So lets see, I guess before I go on I definitely want to say,,,,do not get a room without a window at least, we got an inside stateroom....but would never again get one, you feel just too closed in, it is so nice to get up in the morning and look out and see something, instead it is pitch black. Shore excursions.....Well first was Labadee, Haiti, the water was like bath water and clear and aqua and beautiful, they had a barbecue there and more than enough to eat...we went to the market and let me tell you I felt like a rag doll being pulled this way and that way for the vendors wanting you to look at their stuff......it was not a pleasant experience, but if you remain tough, they eventually get the message...I did not try to bargain them down to practically nothing, I gave them what I felt the item was worth........some of the people were just so happy they practically paid pennies for things...that definitely was worth a lot more, well that is up to everyone...I couldn't do that......but it was another experience. Next was St. Kitt's that island got hit hard with some hurricanes in the last couple of years, needs to get built up again, us and another couple took a taxi and this taxi cab driver was wonderful, he took us all over the island for about 3 hours, we rent to the rain forest, ( very small ), to the fort, climbed many steps (it was like 99 degrees and 99 humidity..( I was very red faced out of breath and sweaty......ugh!!) but the view was worth it...very nice..lots of nice pictures...I got a picture of a native on a donkey with a long chain with a dog on it...he charged me a $1.00...what a laugh...it just was very different, I was very glad we went on an excursion, I am not saying not to go on the ships excursions, but especially if you can find another couple hiring a taxi is so much better, you go where you want and stop where you want. We then went to St Martins, all we did there was get off the ship and walked to the everything cool beach and hung there all day, beautiful, and very, very relaxing...the next day was the St. Thomas...I was not really impressed with it...too commericalized, but still beautiful, I found out later we could have taken a taxi to Megans bay and relaxed at that beach all day......so that would have probably been a good idea....but instead we went back on the ship early and basically had it to ourselves, very nice and quiet. Well, Friday night was picture taking and good-byes at dinner, very emotional time...met such wonderful people...the dining room time at dinners got to be such a special time, the waiters etc., sang songs, we all got up and danced they performed almost nightly, with everything else they had to do...just so special.....next was packing etc., so Friday night packed put everything outside our cabin...Saturday morning up at 5am...showered etc., then went to the Delta airline representative at 6:30 am. got our boarding passes and then went to the dining room for breakfast....back to our rooms and went to the Pallidium theatre where we had to meet as we were going on the old and new San Juan tour...waited there till 9:30...went off the ship, picked out our luggage, porters took it through customs for you, and to the truck where your airline rep was she put the labels on the luggage and on the tour bus you went...very efficient....after the tour we arrived at the San Juan airport at 12:30 and our flight was not till 5pm..what a terrible time waiting there just so crowded, nothing good to eat, what they had was very expensive and just too long to wait for a flight, go on the plane on time arrived in Atlanta had to wait there two hours and then on to Pittsburgh (home )...arrived home at 1 am...very tired and a very long day...I would definitely do that different, but our flights were arranged with Royal Caribbean. Next time we would do our own.....and it would be a lot less expensive also.....but basically it could have been a lot worse with the flights. I guess in closing I would say I would definitely cruise again, and yes I would cruise through Royal Caribbean again also, I felt them to be a very good cruise line. If you want to be super busy you can if you don't, you don't have too.....a very diversified schedule, it is all up to you. I think this was one of the most refreshing vacations I have ever had. I just wish I could go again next week...lol....... But it was a wonderful experience and it is one I will remember for a long, long time. If you have the opportunity....go for it.... Whirlwind 11/05/00 Read Less
When a doctor prescribes fresh air and rest --- go cruising. This 28 day back-to-back cruise was all relaxation and new and fascinating ports. These were our third and fourth cruises on the Grandeur of the Seas, which makes 14 RCI cruises. ... Read More
When a doctor prescribes fresh air and rest --- go cruising. This 28 day back-to-back cruise was all relaxation and new and fascinating ports. These were our third and fourth cruises on the Grandeur of the Seas, which makes 14 RCI cruises. We've experienced the health benefits of one or two week cruises before; however, we found four weeks' health benefits to be increased exponentially! That's it. . . . do what the doctor orders! Since we've written and published on the Grandeur before, concerning her common areas and artwork, this review will concentrate on service, food, recreation and primarily the many new ports (for us) during the 28 days. EMBARKATION We flew into New Orleans May 2nd and stayed overnight at the Hilton Riverside on the Mississippi River. New Orleans was in full bloom with the scent of magnolias everywhere. This charming city needs no introduction, since her fame is epic. From our hotel window, we saw the Grandeur sail in at 4:30 am, all ablaze in lights, she is really glorious. After a five minute cab ride to the pier, we waited with other Crown & Anchor members for priority boarding. The computers were down for a short period, after that glitch, boarding was quick and easy. Our friend, Hotel Director Tony O'Prey (New Zealand), was on the dock and we knew we were headed for a great cruise. Departure was delayed to accommodate late flights. THE SHIP Captain Michael Lachtaridis (Greece) has reason to be proud of his gorgeous ship, which is 916 ft. long, with a 106 ft. beam, a 25 ft. draft and has a gross tonnage of 74,000. She carries 2446 passengers and a crew of 760; however, on the first leg of the cruise, there were 1,600 passengers; 850, or more than half of them, were repeaters and 200 were either Platinum or Diamond members of Crown & Anchor Society. Actually the Grandeur is perfect in size -- stable in the water and easy to circulate. Thanks to Mr. O'Prey, her condition is excellent, from the Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 11 with its life size Viking Armored Warriors) to the elegant Great Gatsby Dining Room, South Pacific Lounge, Casino Royale, Palladium Theater and her five deck tall Centrum with balconies. The crystal canopied Solarium is where Vincent spent his early mornings in the hot tubs. Great for a healthy rest! Captain Michael soon became a favorite of the passengers through his daily announcements at noon. The messages were repeated by the smiling passengers who enjoyed his humor (i.e. "Well, I must congratulate my navigators, because after four days at sea, they have found Bermuda. It's not easy you know, because it is a small island in a vast ocean")! We had smooth sailing all the way, with many days of flat seas and felt safe in the hands of our capable Captain, even when the ship was surrounded by thick fog. His humor is refreshing, but his "steering" (not driving) is legend. Decks 2 & 3, and the forward half of 4 are all staterooms. The Gatsby Dining Room is aft of Decks 4 & 5. Deck 5, forward is the main floor of the Palladium Theater; next is the Casino Royale and midship is the Purser and Explorations desks, while aft is the balcony of the Gatsby. Deck 6, forward has the balcony of the Palladium (watch out for columns, when choosing seats, since some block the view of the stage). Midship are the Boutiques, Photo Gallery, and Elevators (Birdcage style). Toward aft is the Conference Center, Schooner Bar and the South Pacific Lounge. Decks 7 & 8, are all suites and staterooms, except for beside the elevators where the Library, Card Room and Computer Center are located. Decks 9, 10 & 11, are all Public Areas: Deck 9 forward has the Windjammer Cafe (buffet dining), midship is the main pool, solarium and toward aft the Ship Shape Spa. Deck 10 has the Youth Centers forward, the jogging track, and the upper level of the Spa. Deck 11 holds the beautiful multi-level Viking Lounge with a wonderful view of the sea. FOOD & SERVICE The Hotel Director Tony O'Prey has a very well trained staff which insures excellent quality of food and service. In the Great Gatsby Dining Room, we had table 18A for two, with top-notch service from our waiter Habib El Abed (Tunisia) and his assistants Helena Maslejova (Slovakia) and Decima or "Dee". The meals were nicely paced and everything the proper temperature, considering this station was the farthest from the galley. Maitre d' Yusuf Cavdar (Turkey) kept a close eye on everything, not only at the Captain's table (where we dined elegantly and deliciously with Captain Lachtaridis), but also at every table in the restaurant and in the Windjammer. Asst. Maitre d' Anna Frankowsa had a memory for details that made every meal pleasurable; she always went the extra mile. The Transatlantic crossing had menus aimed to the American passengers' taste, while the Baltic trip had new menus to accommodate the many British and European passengers. These menus had numerous offerings and variety including vegetarian dishes and calorie counting Ship Shape items: Appetizers: Escargot, Spring Rolls, Grilled Portabellas, San Padre Crab Cake, Festival of Fruits (with Lychee nuts) etc.... Soups: Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, Crab & Shrimp Bisque, Thai Lemon grass Soup, N.E. Clam Chowder, etc.... Salads: Caesar's, Boston Mimosa, Oak leaf and Escarole, Cobb Salad, Titanic Salad (a` propos) etc.... Entrees: Filet Mignon, Duck a L'Orange, Sesame crusted Salmon, Pasta and Shrimp, Broiled Lobster, Lamb Gremolada, etc.... Desserts: Baklava, Chocolate Profiteroles, Apple Pie, Berry tart (or any tart, pear, apricot, all were great), Caramel Custard, Swan Puffs, etc... etc... etc... The food in the Windjammer was varied and fresh, but we prefer the dining room because trays are hard to handle for us. On board there is great ice cream and cookies (Macadamia nut, Oatmeal raisin, Pecan sandies, Chocolate chip, etc...), all fresh daily. We also lunched at the Solarium with Pizza, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and French Fries. Room Service is terrific on board, 24 hour, fast and fresh. We had full American Breakfast daily served in our stateroom --- what a way to start the day! RCI aims to please, and we feel that almost everything exceeded our expectations. CABIN During the transatlantic crossing we had Stateroom #7108 with balcony, and excellent service from Cabin Attendant Colbert Bodden. He placed a Chaise Lounge on the balcony for Vincent, and he kept our cabin spotless and homey. During the second stage of our trip, throughout the Baltic Sea, we were in wheelchair accessible Stateroom #3606, a large airy ocean view room with a huge bathroom/shower (8'X8') equipped with safety rails etc. This cabin was in beige and pastels with one picture of a lakeside garden on the wall. Simple, but nice. Roy Slate, our cabin steward, was exceptionally polite and took great care of us. Thank you, Roy! ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on board is in the capable hands of Cruise Director John Blair; he gives "110% effort." His show "A Tribute to Neil Diamond" should not be missed. Other headliners whom we enjoyed were as follows: John Christie in "The Best of R & R;" concert pianist Craig Dahn, a student of the great Liberace, in red sequined jacket and shoes, he played a Pagliacci air that was memorable; Italian tenor Renato Pagliari had a wonderful voice, but we wished he had sung more operatic arias than pop. The RCI Singers and Dancers were exceptionally good in "Tapestries: A Tribute to Carol King." The murder mystery "Lethal Libations" was funny and engaging. Social Hostess, Katrina Blair (Mrs. John Blair), was excellent and so was John. This couple goes all out to entertain the passengers and their efforts are appreciated. There are many other games like the usual bingo, contests, athletics, etc..., going on every day. There is something for everyone. PORTS OF CALL Most of these ports were new to us and we enjoyed the lessons in geography and history. We flew into New Orleans from Miami on May 2nd. We don't like to fly in the same day as departure, if we can help it. We had supper at Mother's (Home of the "Poor Boy") and loved the ambiance of this great city --- Jazz and the French Quarter. May 3, 2003: New Orleans, Louisiana. Departure was delayed to accommodate a late plane with cruise passengers. We sailed down the Mighty Mississippi River and all was lovely until we passed "Gnatville." Vincent innocently opened the balcony door and bugs swarmed into the cabin. We attempted swatting them for 10 minutes, but quickly realized we needed help. The Purser sent up an exterminator, but, even after playing cards for an hour in our pajamas in the Card Room down the corridor, we still could not return to sleep there. We slept in another stateroom, thanks to the Purser, but, most of all, we learned a lesson about "Ole Man River." May 4, 5, & 6th: Days At Sea, we had a wonderful rest and sailed 1,727.8 Nautical miles to Bermuda. May 7 & 8th: Overnight at King's Wharf Naval Boat Yard, Bermuda. Arrival: 4:00 pm (The QEII left early and we docked at 3:00 pm). Departure: 1:30 pm the next day. From King's Wharf most guests took the ferry to Hamilton to see the Harbor Fest. The Clock Tower and the stone masonry were interesting. Pink sand beaches and English gardens make this a beautiful island. Available Shore Excursions: Scenic Bermuda by Rail and Bike ($67), Glass Bottom Safari ($36), Eco Tour by Kayak ($53), Trolley Tour ($25). The next four days were at Sea. May 9, 2003: While sailing East there was a thick fog surrounding the ship all day. Visibility was only one quarter to one-half mile. Sail on! May 10, 2003: The fog lifts. May 11, 2003, Happy Mother's Day. May 12, 2003, there are dolphins following the ship. May 13, 2003: 1,948.8 nautical miles to Punta Delgada, Azores (Portugal). Arrival: 7:00 am. Departure: 2:00 pm. Tours available: Fire Lake & Ribiera Grande, 3.5 hrs ($37); Village of Sete Cidades & Wine Tasting, 3.75 hrs ($44); Sete Cidades & Crater Lake for 3.5 hrs ($37) is the tour we chose. We visited beautiful volcanic mountains and a crater lake. There were many "happy" cows, as the Tour Guide called them, and stunning flowers growing wild (calla lilies, ginger and hydrangeas, etc). The white buildings are trimmed with black lava rock. The sidewalks are mosaics made out of black and white rocks (a preview of Lisbon's sidewalks). The tourists were happy too, after sampling the local fruit "brandies" and wines. May 14, 2003: At Sea and this was the first time we saw white caps on the Atlantic Ocean. There were dolphins again following the ship. It was 788.9 Nautical miles to Lisbon, or a total of 4,457 from New Orleans. May 15, 2003: Lisbon Portugal. Arrival: 7:00 am. Departure: 12:00 noon. Available Excursions: Tour of the city 3.75 hrs ($46) was our choice, with an excellent overview of the city and historic information; a must see is the Monument of the Discoveries with Prince Henry the Navigator leading the column. Other tours included Hiking for 4 hrs ($79), Biking for 4 hrs ($89) and Jeep Safari for 4 hrs ($89). May 16, 2003: At Sea. May 17, 2003: Lisbon to Le Havre, France is 914.6 Nautical miles. Arrival: 8:30 am. Departure: 10:30 pm. This city is excellent as a starting point for tours throughout central France and Normandy. Available Tours: Taste of Paris: 10.5 hrs ($111). Be prepared for two long rides and a short time in Paris. Beaches of Normandy: 10 hrs ($154), historical site of W.W.II. Mont St. Michel: 10 hrs ($165).This Abbey was built on a rock by the sea and has a charming village with cobblestone streets etc.... Alabaster Coast, Entretat & Fecamp: 5 hrs ($64). Scenic Chalk Cliffs and the Home of the famous Benedictine Liquor invented by Monk Bernardo Vincellio in 1510. There are many other tours: Versailles, Chateaux & Gardens of Normandy, Honfleur (where Monet painted) etc.... We opted to stroll around Le Havre, playing native with two baguettes tucked under our arms! We enjoyed window shopping and seeing what the French are really wearing and buying this season (Lots of khaki and beige with lace, romantic and fluttery for women and sporty with zippers every where for men). Le Havre to Zeebrugge, Belgium is 195.1 Nautical miles. May 18, 2003: Zeebrugge, Belgium. Arrival: 10:00 am. Departure: 7:00 pm. Available Tours: Brussels Sightseeing, 8 hrs ($130); Antwerp: 8.15 hrs ($130); Ghent & Belgian Chocolate: 4 hrs ($69). We chose to visit Brugge on the advice of several Belgian passengers we met on board. We had a wonderful day; we took the Blankenburg train into town (only 20 min. & handicapped go first class with special assistance in the train stations). We took a local tour from the town center, and ate in the Market Place Square in the De Beiaardier (The Bell ringer), where a young 21 year old Chef Kristof wowed us with grilled shrimp salad, filet mignon and Belgian waffles like we never had before! Then, of course, we shopped for Belgian lace and dolls. May 19, 2003: Zeebrugge to Harwich, England 103.9 Nautical miles. New Orleans, to Harwich, 5,679.1 Nautical miles. Arrival at Harwich meant disembarkation for most passengers, but not for more than 70 passengers, which Captain Lachtaridis dubbed "Frequent Floaters." We sailed on to the Baltic Sea and the Nordic nations. Harwich "Sail Away" was marvelous with a troop of kilt clad bagpipers in the McCallister Tartan (red with thin blue and green lines). Their show lasted for over an hour dockside. More about Harwich on our return. THE SECOND LEG OF OUR JOURNEY May 20 & 21, 2003: At Sea. The somewhat shallow Baltic (especially after the deep Atlantic Ocean) proved to be very calm and flat throughout this trip. May 22 & 23, 2003: St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight). Arrival 3:00 pm. Departure 6:00 pm, the next day. Sunrise 5:32 am, Sunset 10:49 pm (c. 17 hr. day). This city on the Neva River was founded by Peter the Great "as a window to the West" in 1703, and was celebrating its 300th year anniversary, with a spruce up for a visitation by many world leaders which occurred the days we were there, with President Putin hosting formal receptions. The "White Nights" of Russia are amazing. This phenomenon we experienced throughout the trip with days lasting up to 18 hours! When traveling with the ship tours no visa is necessary, but if going off alone a visa is necessary. There was a band at the port to greet the ship and it set a wonderful musical background. Available Tours: Pavlosk & Classical Concert, 3.5 hrs ($98); St. Petersburg Ballet, 3.5 hrs ($69); White Night River Cruise, 3 hrs ($69). We took the Hermitage Museum Tour 3.5 hrs ($56), but it was much too short for such an incredible place (5 linked buildings with more than 3 million exhibits). We got an overview at a rapid pace of numerous pieces of art collected at a rapid pace! Each display room had an elderly dour woman keeping an eye on the collections; but sadly, they did not speak any foreign languages, nor seem to be able to indicate directions or know details about the artwork. May 24, 2003: Helsinki, Finland. Arrival 7:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:24 am, Sunset 10:10 pm (c. 18 hr. day). Helsinki is home to the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards (builders of many RCI ships including the Voyager Class ones and birth place of this ship, the Grandeur of the Seas). Helsinki's Senate Square has government buildings designed by C.L. Engell to resemble St. Petersburg. Among several available tours, we chose the City of Helsinki Tour, 3 hrs ($40). The most interesting sight was the Rock Church, carved out of a stone and with a copper tube ceiling which accounts for its wonderful acoustics. Annually it attracts over one million visitors to its religious services and concerts. While visiting we enjoyed the Bach Toccata & Fugue played by the church organist. It's quite impressive. We learned how to say "Good Bye" in Finnish "Hey, Hey." But we wish we hadn't, because both the people and the area are beautiful. May 25, 2003: Tallinn, Estonia. Arrival 7:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:27 am. Sunset 10:17 pm (c. 18 hr. day). This former USSR country is now the best port for shopping. Norwegian wool sweaters ($20 and up) and Russian collectibles are in abundance. This has a fairy tale like old town section, but there are also vestiges of the USSR too, with the huge housing projects for Russian workers, who settled here during the Soviet domination. Tours: We took the Panoramic Tallinn by Coach, 3 hrs ($28). We saw many turreted castles, the "Tower of Fat Margaret" and a very modern downtown. The Manor Houses of Estonia Tour, 6 hrs ($84) and the Countryside Cycling & Old Town, 5 hrs ($67) are two other popular tours. May 26, 2003: Stockholm, Sweden. Arrival 9:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 3:54 am. Sunset 9:36 pm. (c. 18.5 hr.day). All along the way sailing into this capital city were many pairs of swans, lovely little islands and beautiful trees and countryside! Every passenger remarked on the beauty of this city and said it was the most beautiful among the ones visited on this cruise. Tours: We took the Stockholm and Vasa Museum Tour 3 hrs ($46). We had read (over 40 years ago in Life magazine) about this remarkable Flag ship Vasa of the Swedish Navy which sank on the first day of her maiden voyage --- August 10, 1628. The beautiful oak warship was raised 333 years later and restored to its full glory, marvelous wooden sculptures and all. No one should miss this, it far surpassed our imaginations. There were many other tours, but none of this unique character. Seen from port is a beautiful castle with a green copper roof, many tourists mistake it for the King's palace. In actuality, it is a home for the elderly and the Swedes are proud of the exceptional care they give to them. Rightly so! May 27 & 28, 2003: Copenhagen, Denmark (overnight). Arrival 7:00 pm. Departure 6:00 pm the next day. Sunrise 4:08 am. Sunset 9:34 pm. (c. 17.5 hr. day). Copenhagen is the quaintest of all ports, with neat brick boutiques right at the port. Tours available: Tivoli Gardens by night ($18); Walking Tour 3 hrs ($36); Biking Tour 3 hrs ($57); City of Copenhagen 3 hrs ($39) was our choice of tour and it was nice. We saw the "Little Mermaid" in the bay (a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen) and the Amalienborg Palace (which is actually four "identical 18th century palaces"). May 29, 2003: Oslo, Norway. Arrival 9:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:12 am. Sunset 10:09 (c. 18 hr. day). Sailing into the fjords was lovely, at times both sides of the ship had beautiful country side in view. This is the home of Sonja Henie, three time Olympic figure skating gold medalist and nine time World's champion. It is also where the first ski jump was constructed in 1892! Tours: We took the Oslo Highlights City Tour, 3 hrs ($40), which had a foggy start. We went to the Hollmenkollen Ski Tower which was used in the 1952 Olympics. The fog lifted and we just saw the top of the jump; looking up at it we had vertigo, we couldn't imagine skiing off it! This "Viking Capital" has an interesting Vigeland Park which contains a large number of granite and bronze statues by Gustav Vigeland. We plan to tour it on our next trip to Oslo. God willing. Hiking and the Nordmarka Forest, 4.5 hrs ($52) and Hadeland Glass Works & Viking, 5.5 hrs ($76) are other interesting tours. May 30, 2003: Harwich, England and Debarkation which was easy. First to depart the ship are those with flights on the same day. Next, were those with connections to London like us. A 2.5 hour bus ride took us directly to our Hotel Royal Lancaster on Hyde Park. We had stayed there before and it's a great location with wonderful service. We had Fish n' Chips at the nearby Archer's Pub, and it was so good that we returned on Sunday for a traditional British dinner of Roast Beef, spring vegetables, oven roasted potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding! June 2nd we flew back to Miami, and our trip came to an end, but the memories are still bright. Now, that we have crossed off so many wonderful destinations, we have to add new ones to our future list of places to go and things to see: maybe, the South Pacific. SUGGESTIONS 1. We have been truly blessed with so many fellow cruisers helping with the wheelchair at times. We appreciated those who held the elevators for us, etc. We thank those in the restaurant who provided tables near the entrance. RCI provided cards to reserve the front seats on buses for disabled. However, there were still those few obnoxious people who elbow people out of the way and occupy front seats. Therefore, we suggest that front seats on the tour buses should be reserved for those people with mobility problems. 2. Another suggestion is in regard to the Italian dishes served on RCI ships. We have already suggested in other reviews that if the line wishes to offer Italian food, RCI should hire an Italian chef to train others in the "art" of Italian cooking and the use of proper ingredients. Again on this ship, with the exception of once or twice, the pasta dishes did not meet our expectations, mainly for the use of strange spices, not common in the Italian Cuisine. The food, otherwise, has been very good with flashes of excellence and with plenty of choice on the menu. This has been a great cruise. We have already booked two other cruises on RCI ships, one in October on the Explorer and the other in December on the new Serenade. Happy Cruising! finellivn@mindspring.com June 2003 Read Less
September 16-23 2000 This was my 3rd cruise (the other two being 11 and 15 years ago!) and my companion's first. We are both in our thirties. We had picked this cruise mostly because the price seemed great for the ship and the ... Read More
September 16-23 2000 This was my 3rd cruise (the other two being 11 and 15 years ago!) and my companion's first. We are both in our thirties. We had picked this cruise mostly because the price seemed great for the ship and the itinerary was just what we looking for. Embarkation We got to the port around 1:45 pm. Still had to pass a metal detector and fill out some custom paper work but we could actually see the ship: and what a ship it is! Even if we counted the days before departure, it's always a bit of a shock to see how big these ships really are. A lot of RCCL people were working and things went pretty quickly. After being impressed by the elegance and size of the Centrum and a quick glimpse of the Great Gatsby dinning room, we easily found our cabin. Having booked a run of the ship plan, we got a bridge A category N interior room. It wasn't big but would do fine! The designers did miracles for storage space! It was close to the front lifts, great to go to the pool or to the Windjammer. Up to deck 9 for lunch at the Windjammer. The food is good and there is plenty of it. We then take a few minutes before the drill to fill out our shore excursion order form. They say that some tours get full pretty quickly so we decide to take no chance and to give it in now (even if you do have until 4pm on the next day). It's already time to leave Miami. We pass by the Norway and do some hand waving to its passengers. Since we have a second seating supper, we have plenty of time to walk around the ship and get acquainted. We didn't get our suitcases until right before dinner but we had packed with that possibly in mind. Our first dinner goes well and the food and service are exactly what we expected: nothing less than excellent! We are at a table for 10 and get to meet people for the UK, Haiti and the US (we're from Canada). Days at sea These days were great to just lie around and relax. We tried out both the Solarium area and the "regular" pool deck. You need to be really quick (or very lucky) if you want to get chairs in the Solarium area. This area was the best to relax because this is no noise or loud activities going on. The food was also good but always the same menu: pizza, hot dogs and fries. Days at seas are formal dinner nights. If you have a second seating dinner, you have two choices to avoid line-ups at the photo shoot: either you get there before the first seating is finished or you wait after your seating is over. On the second formal evening, don't miss the midnight buffet. It is worth the wait to see all the ice carvings and sculptures made of butter, chocolate and bread. Labadee, Haiti We chose the snorkeling tour to Amiga Island. The weather isn't too good but we still get a good view of the coast of Haiti. Snorkeling was very deceiving (and we got the same comment from fellow passengers). There were very few fishes or coral to see. For those who like shopping, you can buy souvenirs from the boat that takes you to Amiga Island and on Amiga Island itself. Even if that's the last place you'd expect to see a Market! Going back to Labadee we go by the ship and get to admire how impressive it is from sea level. At Labadee, after walking through a small arts and crafts market, we stop to enjoy lunch at BBQ "restaurant." There are plenty of picnic tables, all under a wooden canopy. This is a perfect place to take a break from the sun. There are many lounge chairs and hammocks on each of the beaches. The water is very clear and you can just sit and relax while enjoying a view of the ship (don't forget your camera)! San Juan, Puerto Rico The sights on the way to San Juan are fabulous. The view of El Morro's Fort from the ship is impressive. Getting off the ship is another story. The line is very long and goes all the way around the Centrum. We chose to wait until the line gets shorter but with close to 2000 passengers, this can take more than a few minutes. Turns out that this would be the only "bad" experience we got the whole week. I can live with that! We had decided to visit Old San Juan on our own by foot. We headed directly to Tourist Information Centre for a complete (and free) map of Old San Juan. We had plenty of time to walk all the way to El Morro's Fort, San Cristobal Fort and do some shopping. If you intend to visit the Forts, you might want to consider taking a taxi there since it is a long walk, especially in the heat. There's one shop you don't want to miss. It's called Butterfly People. Very expensive merchandise but worth the stop. We leave San Juan at 8:00 PM. This will be the only time we leave a port after sunset. The lights of the city always give out a nice view. St. Thomas, USVI We went on Buck Island Sail and Snorkel tour today. 6 of us board a 40 feet sail boat for and hour-long trip to Buck Island. The view of St. Thomas and the comments from the guide are great but the rocking and rolling of the sailboat are enough to make me very sea sick. Once we get to jump in the water, I feel better. There are plenty of fishes, some nice coral and even turtle! After going back to the ship for lunch, we go back to shore for a short walk to the Tramway up to Paradise Point for the best view of St. Thomas, the surrounding isles and best of all, the ships in port (the Disney Magic was also in port that day). You get all this for $12 per adult. You'll also find nice shops with competitive prices. Be sure to get a glimpse of the bird show. Coco Cay We followed the good advice from a Cruise Critic member and got up early to get tickets for the first tender to leave (you have to get in line at least half an hour before they start giving out tickets). We had ordered breakfast from room service to save a bit of time. As usual, the service was right on time and the food was excellent and in generous quantities. Being literally the first at the snorkeling area, we got to be alone at the sunken plane where there are the most fishes. It's a bit scary at first because they are in your face but you get used to it! We went to the other sites but there were too many jelly fishes for our enjoyment. We had already been out there for an hour and a half! By noon, the snorkeling area was crowded. Time the head for the grill where there's nobody in line yet! Talk about great timing today. After lunch, we went to the other side of the island to a quieter beach. The water is shallow for a long time and the water is crystal clear. We even get to see fish without our gear. Entertainment We went to 3 of the shows and they were all great. You get a very good view from all the seats. We also went to karaoke and to the piano bar in Schooner bar. Great talent to be found there! One of our favorite spots was the Centrum where you always had a singer doing popular Cocktail dance music. Overall We had a great week, just not enough time or energy to do all the activities! We were really impressed by the way Royal Caribbean takes care of every detail. We experienced great food, service and entertainment. In our sense, this is the only way to get away from it all. We can't wait to go back! catpat@sprint.ca 11/10/00 Read Less
Eastern Mediterranean Cruise June 30 - July 7, 2001 This was our first Eastern Mediterranean Cruise, having done the Western Itinerary in 1999 (two weeks from Amsterdam, Holland to Genoa, Italy and seven ports in between). This itinerary ... Read More
Eastern Mediterranean Cruise June 30 - July 7, 2001 This was our first Eastern Mediterranean Cruise, having done the Western Itinerary in 1999 (two weeks from Amsterdam, Holland to Genoa, Italy and seven ports in between). This itinerary was probably the most "port intensive" of all of our cruises (five ports in seven days!). You have it from us, sailing throughout the Greek Isles can be both delightful and dramatic. The trip included a close up of Stromboli, the active Italian volcano that juts straight up out of the Tyrrhenean Sea and sports fumaroles and red lava flows at the top with tiny villages at the base: How can people live so calmly on a rumbling volcano? Passing through the Strait of Messina, brought to mind the Odyssey of Ulysses and his adventure in this tempestuous sea, with the threatening monsters Shylla and Charybdis, facing each other across this strait. But, for us, the sea was calm and the view of Calabria and Sicily marvelous. Nevertheless, with a little imagination just sailing through this historical sea is impressive. The next most significant memory is sailing through the caldera of Santorini, which demarcates the original boundaries of this remnant of an island (What was once a near perfect circle of an island is now a mere crescent). We were lucky that our cruise week coincided with a full moon on the Aegean Sea. What a sight: just spectacular! If you haven't done this itinerary yet, book it now, because it is all you could possibly dream it would be. Since the Grandeur is the sister ship of the Vision, which we described in our last review (June 6, 01), we will skip the ship descriptions and specifications which are almost identical, rather, here we'll focus on service and itinerary. EMBARKATION June 20th we flew Alitalia Airline from Miami-Milan-Rome; unfortunately the plane change in Milan was a difficult one, which made us long for the direct Miami-Rome flights of old! We did not use the cruise package, but instead we rented a car (Avis), which we picked up at the airport and spent ten days in the Samnium Mountains (South Central Italy) before returning the car just a few blocks from the pier at Civitavecchia, the morning of embarkation. Since the Grandeur was berthed directly behind the new terminal, embarkation was easy. A crew member was prompt in taking Vincent's wheelchair aboard where the documents were processed within minutes. The new RCI ticket packet is simplified and handy. We met Hotel Director Tony O'Prey at check-in. He makes passengers feel at home immediately and continues to do so until debarkation. What a courteous person he is -- Thank you, Tony for all your kindnesses! We were in our spacious stateroom in less than ten minutes (approximately noon). We went straight to the Welcome Aboard Buffet, where a crew member carried our trays and assisted us through. The food was good and the dessert table excellent. We were happy to return to the Grandeur after four years and were full of anticipation for this exciting trip. THE SHIP The Grandeur of the Seas was built at Kvaerner Masa Shipyards, Finland and launched on Nov. 2, 1996, as the dedication placard in the Viking Crown Lounge reads. It looks just like the Vision of the Seas: it's white with aqua/green glass on the top decks, characteristic of all RCI ships, and has the sleek shape of an oversized yacht. The major difference between this and other RCI Vision class ships is in the interior decor and artworks. RCI has made extensive use of wood and other fine appointments on the Grandeur which makes it worthy of its name. The two deck high Gatsby Dining Room is a good place to start: The 20's era flapper statue in the middle of the grand staircase evokes images of Zelda Fitzgerald with its swaying fringed outfit. The far wall has a two deck high water fall and the other three walls are hung with paintings depicting "Roaring Twenties" party life. This dining room has the most comfortable chairs, with arms rests and lumbar support. The Centrum is both a handy reference point and a place that is in constant movement with dancing, singing and even cooking demonstrations. The ship's decor is pleasant and subdued, with unique pieces of art almost everywhere. The style is consistent throughout the ship, with more traditional artwork (no abstract or futuristic motifs), indeed appropriate for this itinerary. There are several pieces of sculpture that merit mentioning: * Deck 5 has four huge translucent white marble Urns, lit from within, with swans and birds incised on them flanking the entrances of the Palladium Theater, which has crystals hanging along the front of the stage and on the ceiling. * Deck 6 by the Centrum has a resin bronze boy with cap, camera and tour book by Clinch entitled "Where the Heck?" * Deck 7 in the library has a larger than life bronze man on a chair with cigar in hand and newspaper over his face called "Snoozin" also by Clinch, appropriately positioned on the side of one table. We were pleasantly surprised when we discovered it. * In the Viking Crown Lounge are a series of life size Steel Vikings statues by Walenty Pytel and a Viking Ship by T. E. Skelinen. Other artwork worth mentioning are the large murals in the stairways representing Spanish scenes of matadors and senoritas, and a collage with a ballroom scene near the theater. CABIN We were in Superior Ocean View Stateroom #7102 port side, wheelchair accessible. It was furnished with a queen size bed; a sitting area with sofa bed, upholstered chair and a large coffee table; mirrored vanity/desk area, a huge bathroom with additional railings and a 4'x4' shower. This cabin has tons of storage in closets and drawers, more than adequate for four people on a two-week cruise. The far wall is glassed with a sliding door to the verandah with two chaises, two chairs and a table. The color scheme was similar to the Vision, with muted tones of gray, blue, lavender and pink. The Grandeur is scheduled for dry dock this fall and in several areas refurbishing is needed-- upholstery etc. But, all in all, she is a beautiful ship. FOOD Food is available round the clock-- The Windjammer and the Gatsby Dining Room have fixed schedules and the Solarium has pizza (not very good) but they serve excellent hot dogs, burgers and fries which are available most of the day and evening (the European cruisers all wanted to make sure that the beef was U.S.; they are still living with mad cow fear). Snacks are served in all of the bars, lounges and the Casino from 11:30 pm to 12:30 am and the bars are open from 9:00 am to 2:00 am the next morning. Room service is 24 hrs. per day. Usually we ate breakfast in our cabin and it was punctual, hot and abundant (omelets were fine, bacon crisp, coffee hot and rolls and croissants fresh). Unfortunately, we did not personally meet the Executive Chef, Martin Grabenhofer (Austria), but read of his extensive culinary background. RCI has the best meats afloat, we also had succulent salmon and the salads were innovative (Boston Mimosa, Waldorf and especially Ensalada del Chef with orange segments and mixed greens). At lunch we had the Philadelphia Cheese Steak and the Tuna Melt Sub served on great, crispy French bread. The International menus were nicely varied but we particularly liked some Greek fare: Santorini fruit salad with Ouzo, Spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese pie) Beef Souvlaki skewers, Mousaka and Yiaourtini (yogurt cake with orange liquor). There were terrific ices, sherbets and ice creams; memorable chocolate cakes and delicious cookies. However, even though the Chef had trained in Venice, the pastas were not up to those we had enjoyed for the past ten days while in Italy, prior to embarkation. We are finding it harder and harder to order pastas on board RCI ships, since al dente is rarely achieved and the sauces just don't taste Italian. Even a simple dish like spaghetti Carbonara was ruined by adding a cream sauce, that's a no-no! The spaghetti were neither Carbonara nor Alfredo, but somewhere in between. However, we have to admit most non Italians didn't notice a difference. The gala meals are always the best and this cruise was no exception: We dined with Staff Captain George Paraskevopoulos (born in Australia of Greek parents and a graduate of the Mercantile Academy of Greece). He was delightfully candid about life at sea and hosted a dinner with escargots, soupe a` l'oignon, Caesar salad, Surf and Turf (lobster tail and filet mignon), blackened salmon and velvet chocolate cake. He toasted his guests with water to emphasize SAFETY at sea, but ordered fine wines for the rest of the table (more later). Great food, gracious company, and all under the watchful eye of Maitre d` Massimo (see service). SERVICE The tone and ambiance is set by the Captain and his crew follows his lead: Captain Carlos Pedercini (Argentina) is RCI's youngest captain, receiving his Master's license at age 28 and at 36 he is a serious Master of the Grandeur; he wears his honors well. Staff Captain George emphasized the strict protocol and attention paid to safety by RCI with its Tricolor Alert System (Red, Yellow and Green) requiring specific staff duties at all times. Sleep easy cruisers, the Bridge is in capable, cautious hands! Tony O'Prey, Hotel Director, is an affable capable man with one mission: He makes sure everything is done with flair and that the passengers are pleased. We were happy to see that there is a Chief Purser aboard, Julie Hansen was caring and totally efficient and responsive to cruiser's concerns which she followed up personally. Fortunately RCI has not attempted to run other ships as it did the Radiance of the Seas, where an experiment assigning ship hotel management to independent administrators, breaking the chain of command from the Captain on down. Initially this experiment resulted in failure. We have not followed the situation on the Radiance, but we feel that common sense will prevail at the top of RCI management and the tried-and-true system with the Captain, as the sole master of the ship, with the well established chain of officers and crew, will remain as the one and only valid system in the whole fleet. In the Gatsby Dining Room we found the service outstanding under the direction of Maitre d' Massimo Barbiero (Italy). We could trust his honest assessment of the menu and were happy with his specific suggestions: Fine food, fine service, and a delightful atmosphere (in part due to the trio of musicians who played there nightly). We had a table for two at the top of the Grand Staircase overlooking the Salon and the Captain's table. Our Waiter Ajini Khalil (Tunisia) was attentive, but not hovering, just perfect. Asst. Waiter Rodrigo Estay (Chile) was smiling and friendly and Head Waiter Jayaraman Iyer (India/France) was also a knowledgeable sommelier. Lunch in the dining room was always interesting with Waiter Vincenzo Caraglia (Italy); he sought out Vincent to discuss Italian soccer, Formula I Auto Racing, etc.-- friendly and prompt service. We felt right at home on our second cruise aboard the Grandeur. The Repeaters Captain's Cocktail had an excellent CanapE Buffet, free drinks and friendly faces. We met many nice cruisers and staff. Social Hostess Chez van Straaten (S. Africa) was both bright and gracious. Her parents were on board for a 28th wedding anniversary and a second honeymoon to revisit Athens. We know where Chez got her charm. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Kyle (Texas, USA) heads up an active group which runs everything from daily Bingo to dance lessons and games. This cruise had several evening shows worth mentioning: Los Pampas Gauchos gave a literally hair raising routine (you've got to see it to believe it!). Judy Kolba gave a combination Singing/Comedy routine that we heard was hilarious (sorry, we did not catch her). Day Three's RCI production of "Starstruck" with its tribute to the silver screen and dazzling combination of live performance and film projection, with the RCI dancers deftly jumping in and out of the giant screen was breathtaking. The dancers' timing was perfect to achieve this wonderful special effect. Dominic Allen was the ultimate entertainer with both his vocal and instrumental expertise. The audience loved him. The Celeste Trio had a wonderful female vocalist accompanied by her husband Marcangelo and percussionist Mr. Leyette. They were everywhere from the lounges to the Centrum and had a very demanding repertoire and great reception. Last, but not least, Naki Ataman (Turkey) performed his special U.N. Tribute to 24 Countries (Theme "Around the World in 80 Days"). The audience honored his piano virtuosity with a well deserved standing ovation. As usual, RCI's Entertainment is worth seeing and hearing. PORTS OF CALL The main reason for this cruise was the itinerary and we are happy to say that our expectations were met, but the less than one day taste of Athens left us longing for more. Next time . . . and there will be a next time (God willing!), we will approach this cruise differently. We'll fly first to Athens for a three day stay and take a cruise back to Venice, Italy. Sounds good to us. We are now at a point in our lives that whenever we check off a vacation destination, we must add another one in order to keep that list going. Civitavecchia, Italy: This is an engaging home port for Italy, where ferries to Sardinia (a trendy vacation spot) leave daily. We took a ride up into the mountains as far as the beginning of the Tuscan Hills. If you are interested in Etruscan Necropoles and Museums visit nearby Cerveteri and Tarquinia; Civitavecchia is a an excellent starting point. Of course Rome is a short one hour bus trip. Definitely extend your cruise vacation either before or after or you will regret it. Katakolon, Greece: Greece comprises over 1400 isles of which only 169 are inhabited. This small town on the western coast of the Peloponnese (Greece's largest peninsula) has as its main attraction the famous archeological site of Ancient Olympia, where the Pisans first held their Olympic Games about 1,000 B.C. The contests reached their heights in 6th century B.C., but were banned in 394 A.D. The modern revival was in 1896 and Greeks are enthusiastically building and planning to host the games in 2004 in Athens. Ioanna, the tour guide through Olympia was knowledgeable, humorous and made history come to life. The Doric architecture was massive in the Palaestra (wrestling school), the Prytaneum (where winners were honored) and the Temple of Zeus (not one of its original 25 columns still standing, this was the site of the gold and ivory statue of Zeus listed as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world). The Temple of Hera (which is better preserved) once held the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles (circa 350 B.C.) which is now across the road at the Olympia Archeological Museum.. The first olympic stadium which set the distance for races and gave its name to all stadiums to follow was truly awesome. The start and finish lines still exist and are white marble and its sloping grassy sides held 30,000 spectators. The ruins of Olympia reveal a well organized sports center of gigantic proportions in ancient Greece. We gamely started out to tour these ruins, but soon realized it was hard with a wheelchair on unpaved ground. Sean, a fellow cruiser courteously took over and pushed Vincent through the entire site -- An Olympian Effort! Efcharisto`(Thank you). This tour (excursion KKA1 on the ship's list) is a must. Although the ship's 11:00 am arrival makes this tour in the summer uncomfortable from the heat of a high noon sun and we barely made it back to the last tender at 5:30 pm, it was an afternoon to remember. After this visit, we will never view the modern Olympics again in the same old way: The spirit of the old Olympians is with us. Santorini, Greece: Aaah! This is the Greek Isles of postcards and travel guides. White washed buildings on cliffs with blue cupolas. This volcanic island erupted in 1450 B.C. and there remains only a crescent shape with the island of Nea Kameni in the center of the caldera. Very impressive and evocative of Geology 101. Sailing through a caldera! The ship anchors off Skala and the blue/white town of Fira` can be accessed by climbing the over 600 steps of the Serpentine Path (we don't think so), riding a stubborn donkey (no way) or our choice "the cable car." Fira` was destroyed by an earthquake 1956 and rebuilt maintaining its former charm of houses built into the mountainside. The narrow streets are uneven cobblestone and no cars. We visited the Archeological Museum, but the tour of the day was Ancient Akrotiri and Santorini (excursion SOA1) which we did not take due to the wheelchair. Akrotiri is famous for its wall paintings (not frescoes since they are painted on dry walls) but fortunately for us the best of these we saw in Athens at the National Museum, including "The Fleet", "Boxing Children", "The Fisherman" and "The Spring Fresco" (misnomer). Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: Here we were steered wrongly by the ship's Shore Excursion desk. Because of Vincent's wheelchair we were told to catch a cab-- to the tune of $100. The driver knew little English, and refused to leave us at the top of Ephesus and pick us up in the bottom, as promised. We suggest cruisers, even those with wheelchairs, take the ship excursion KDC1: Ephesus Ruins and house of the Virgin Mary. We found out later that a lady in a wheelchair had no problem with this tour and loved it. Next time we'll know better. Piraeus (Athens), Greece: Athens is seven miles from the Port of Piraeus. Best tour here is the ship's PRA1 the Acropolis and Athens sightseeing. We opted for PRB1 the National Museum and sightseeing which meant viewing the shopping district. Next time we would like to see more of Athens which may mean staying over either at the beginning or ending of our cruise. Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy: Rome was the final city on this itinerary and this is such a monumental city that it requires an extended stay. It's our favorite city since Vincent is a graduate of University of Rome and knows it well. Fond memories of our family stay there for a year in 1980 - '81, during Vincent's sabbatical appointment at the Catholic University, give it a special place in our hearts. We do Rome by ourselves, but we suggest that cruisers use the ship's excursions since the "Eternal City" is one newcomers may need a guide to tour. DEBARKATION Debarkation as usual was simple, Vincent's wheelchair was escorted all the way to the luggage area and out of the terminal. It was the end of a Grand cruising experience. SUGGESTIONS It is very hard to improve on a great cruise, but we are making the following suggestions in an attempt to make a great cruise greater: 1. If the itinerary could be arranged so that the arrival times for Katakolon and Santorini would be early morning as were the times for the other ports, cruisers would not be starting out on excursions at high noon, the hottest part of the day. Some of the ruins are unbearably hot at that time. At present, arrival at these two ports is 11:00 am. In our opinion they should be changed if possible to 8:00 am. 2. Once again RCI should hire a chef with expertise in Italian cuisine who would improve the sauces and pasta dishes thus attracting more lovers of true Italian cooking. Read Less
We were on the 11-day cruise. The hottest meal I had was the last night in the dining room and that was the apple pie ala mode. After the first day or so everything tasted alike. The waiters and assistants can only present what the cooks ... Read More
We were on the 11-day cruise. The hottest meal I had was the last night in the dining room and that was the apple pie ala mode. After the first day or so everything tasted alike. The waiters and assistants can only present what the cooks make for them, their attention to details was great, but they will lose tips in the future for the really bad, lukewarm food The pool deck was in constant need of cleaning and it is a high traffic area, but there is no excuse for getting up in the morning and the dishes and glasses from the night before still being there. Our morning entertainment was to watch the bugs scurry around before it got to hot. The ashtrays rarely ever got emptied. The only time there was any hustle was when the white shirts came around. Much better supervision is needed. As for getting off the ship, we were required to be out of our rooms by 7:30 A.M. this left 3 hours to be wandering around until our luggage tag color was called. Well, at some point one is going to have to use a restroom. I chose the ones by the Schooner lounge and was pleasantly surprised to find there was no toilet paper, no kleenex, or hand towels. I don't know what the other 2400 people did, I was disgusted. We thought we were being nice the night before we were to depart so we gave our cabin attendant his tip, wrong move. We received no wash cloths, towels, soap for showers the next morning. This was our first cruise and will be the last for a very long time if ever. BFa8825363@aol.comMarch 2002 Read Less
I just returned from the Grandeur on Saturday. This was our first cruise. We traveled with a group of approximately 70 people. We arrived in San Juan late due to our airplane being overbooked out of JFK. Still made it to the ship on time. ... Read More
I just returned from the Grandeur on Saturday. This was our first cruise. We traveled with a group of approximately 70 people. We arrived in San Juan late due to our airplane being overbooked out of JFK. Still made it to the ship on time. My first impression of the boat was how large it was once you got up beside it. We got on after waiting in a two lines, one to show our birth certificates/photo ID and then another line to receive our supercharge cards. Took about 30-45 minutes. We boarded and went to our stateroom. We had a room on deck 3 with a nice size window. I thought rooms were ample in size but showers were very small! We had time to grab dinner in the dining room and participate in the muster drill before we sailed at 10p.m. The first day was a day at sea. I was surprised by how much you could feel the boat rocking. The waves were about 8-10 feet according to the captain. It was this way for pretty much the whole trip. I still feel like I am moving as I sit here typing this. This first day at sea was great since we could explore the ship and relax on the pool deck. There were plenty of chairs for everyone -- especially if you went to deck 10 right above the pool. Great music was played by the band and their were several events like horse racing and various pool contests to keep us entertained all day. The second day was in Aruba. We went snorkeling and scuba diving with arrangements a friend who had previously been to Aruba made. Later that afternoon we walked into town to check our the local shops. At night we went to Carlos and Charlie's as everyone on the board recommended. It was a LOT of fun! They play great music and get everyone drunk. You have to be in the party mood if you plan on going there. We had to leave around 12:30 to get back to the ship before it sailed at 1a.m. We didn't want to leave! The third day we were in Curacao. We planned on going to the beach at the Seaquarium but discovered if you walk to the Princess Beach Hotel next to the Seaquarium you can use their beach for free and also use their chairs for free. The Seaquarium beach wanted money for everything. In the afternoon we went into town to look at the shops. The fourth day was at sea. Spent the day lounging by the pool again. Very relaxing -- got lots of sun. We went through a 5 minute rain storm but then the sky cleared to beautiful blue again. More pool games like the belly flop contest and more good music by the ship's band. The fifth day we were in St. Martin. We liked this island the best but hated tendering to shore. The tender boats only held about 75 people and there were 2200 on board the ship. We got up early as recommended to avoid the lines -- got our tender ticket before 9 a.m. but didn't get on a tender boat until 10:30. The tendering process was chaotic and disorganized. Once getting on shore we hopped in a taxi and headed for the French side to Orient Beach. This beach has a nude side and a "regular" side, however, even though we choose the regular side there were a lot of nude people on the beach. The beach was absolutely gorgeous. A little bit over commercialized with all the vendors trying to braid your hair and rent you beach chairs but if you said no they were polite enough to leave you alone. This beach has all the water sports so we rented wave runners in the afternoon. We had a blast. I even saw a sea turtle while riding out in the waves. We spent the afternoon looking in the jewelry stores. Tendering back to the boat that afternoon we waited about a half hour in line to get back to the ship. Not quite as bad as trying to get off the ship onto the island. The last day we were in St. Thomas. This is a beautiful island as well. We took the ship's Turtle Cove excursion and went on a catamaran and snorkeling trip. Saw many colorful fish and my husband saw a sea turtle. Spent the afternoon shopping and bought a few pieces of jewelry. They have absolutely anything you could possibly be looking for here. Later that night we sailed back to San Juan. Overall the cruise was great. We would definitely go back again. My only complaints were that the tendering was a mess and our dining room service at our table was pretty poor. Our waiter was not very good. He kept serving people the wrong dishes -- my plate to my friend or vice versa. We also always seemed to be one of the last tables done eating each night. We wouldn't even have our main course and the table next to us would be eating dessert. The service was a bit slow from our waiter. Also, I saw before my trip that someone on the message board mentioned the dining room recycled plates without washing them for serving the soup or appetizers on. I believe her after seeing the plate my soup arrived on the last night. It had cocktail sauce and dirt on it. It obviously was not washed from the previous serving of the shrimp cocktail appetizers. It kind of made me lose my appetite. Luckily it only happened on the last night. Although our cabin was kept spotless during the trip we also never saw our cabin attendant aside from the first night when he introduced himself. There were no animals made out of clothes as many of you mentioned. Usually the pillows were just arranged differently each night. Darn, I was looking forward to the animal thing! All in all -- we would go again. The positives far outweighed the negatives. The weather was fantastic. The shows were good, however, aimed at a little different age group than my own (late 20's). The evening activities like Karaoke and Novel Quest were fun. We even came in 2nd place with Novel Quest and got RCI hats for a prize. I would also highly recommend going with a group rather than on your own. As they say, the more the merrier. Happy Cruising!!! 11/27/00 Read Less
My wife and I together with another couple (who we managed to convince to come along) did the cruise on the above ship from Civitavecchia (Italy) which departed on 11.08.2001 and returned 7 days later. Despite the numerous setbacks we ... Read More
My wife and I together with another couple (who we managed to convince to come along) did the cruise on the above ship from Civitavecchia (Italy) which departed on 11.08.2001 and returned 7 days later. Despite the numerous setbacks we encountered, the cruise was great and the crew were particularly helpful especially in view of the fact that our luggage got lost on route to Italy, my friend and I were lent a tuxedo at no charge and free laundry service was offered. I even took ill for most of the cruise to the extent that I was hospitalized on board with some unknown blood virus. A special thanks to your ship doctor from Iceland for his efforts. The ship is beautiful and well maintained. The food was EXCELLENT and really we could not complain which these days is a rarity. However, there are two things that really got me quite upset and I thought it best to bring it to your attention in order that others do not experience similar problems. Firstly, at booking stage our South African Rand was trading at about R8.20 to the US Dollar. We had to pay a deposit at a rate of R8.30 to the dollar to allow for any possible fluctuation in the short term. We agreed and understood especially in view of our buoyant currency. However, when it came to paying over the balance of the cruise fee a few days later we were charged at a rate of R8.50 to the US Dollar. At this stage the rate was about R8.26 to the US Dollar. I personally feel that this is not the way to do business and was tempted to cancel the trip out of principal. Unfortunately, once I had told the wife about the trip there was no chance of canceling. I don't know who's ruling this is but it is a problem and the rate of R8.30 should have been adhered to as per our initial agreement. Secondly, on the day before disembarking we were given a wad of envelopes in order to tip all and sundry. We were also given a recommended tipping rate per person. We proceeded to put money into the envelopes for those that we decided made our trip such a special occasion (the trip was a wedding anniversary gift for my wife) and completed the questionnaire you handed out. Once this questionnaire was submitted and tips dealt out the service levels changed like day to night and the last few hours on the boat unfortunately became such a dampener. Several questions plague me - Is this the norm on every cruise that they take the money and run before the job is over? (It certainly was not like this on my last cruise). Is the 15% surcharge on wine not for the waiters? Were they being friendly just for the tip? Are the staff really tired and too happy to see the back of us? Did we not tip adequately? (which may be possible especially as our currency is so weak against the US Dollar - in which case the trip should be marketed to the Americans and English.) I really don't know!!!! The other couple that went with us felt the same as we did and they tipped the recommended rate if not slightly over. Any comments on the above would be appreciated. Despite all this I will consider another trip on a different ship in RCI's fleet in the next year or two and I'll make sure our luggage gets to the boat with us even if it means checking in and out at every airport and as for my health - well that is sure to be okay with just with the thought of sipping cocktails in the sun. We'll bring our kids too. If you have any comments about my review, or would like to ask me a questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at: royag@iafrica.comSeptember 2001 Read Less
Day 0: in New Orleans. Had booked in the French Quarter through Hotwire and got the Wyndam. When we arrived, we were booked in a HUGE suite with wall-to-wall windows facing the Mississippi. What a surprise for $95! Then we went out and ... Read More
Day 0: in New Orleans. Had booked in the French Quarter through Hotwire and got the Wyndam. When we arrived, we were booked in a HUGE suite with wall-to-wall windows facing the Mississippi. What a surprise for $95! Then we went out and partied on Bourbon Street. Stayed out till about 2:30 am, then walked to Cafe Dumond for beignets. Oh so yummy!! First time on a cruise that we were in port a day ahead of time and will always try to do it this way. Day 1: Embarkation. Took cab to pier about 10:30 am. About 10 parties in line ahead of us. Waited 10-15 minutes to open the check-in desks. (By the way, we had booked through cruisequick and we were booked as seniors, although we're mid 30's, no problem at all- just noting in response to the big previous controversy). We inquired on an upgrade to a balcony from our inside and were told to wait in another very short line. I was expecting to pay about $600 based on some previous posts, and that's what it was. So we went ahead and upgraded. Ship was beautiful on entering. Everyone very friendly and greeting. Not much open as we were very early, but a couple of bars were serving. Cabins not ready yet. So we wandered around and took a tour. In general the ship is in great shape. Lots of glass and aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. About 12 our cabin was ready and we were ready to unpack but no luggage. Got our seating switched from main to late dining, very simple. Went top deck to watch us sail out of New Orleans. 6:30 pm still no luggage. Now we're worried. We realized there might be some confusion because of the cabin switch. Our cabin attendant kept checking down at our old cabin, but no luck. Finally we went to the purser's desk to report our lost luggage. They were quite nice and very surprised to hear NONE of our bags had made it. Most people were missing only one bag. Anyway we went to dinner dressed in jeans, but nice. We were seated with the other couple we were traveling with, Pete and Jen, and also Jamison and Stephanie, who it turns out also posted quite a bit on our roll call. Took a bit of time for us to realize this!! Our waiter Chris was great, but some nights just a bit long in the tooth describing the next day's meals. Alfredo, our assistant waiter was for the most part attentive, but didn't seem all that alert at times and not that cheerful either. We always had a wonderful time at dinner though. Food was anywhere from mediocre to excellent. Only one or two dishes were downright bad, and in those cases there was always something better. The boys seemed to have this thing about only ordering one entree!! It was not unusual to have them order three!! Anyway, our bags were in our room after dinner. (about 12 hours after we had checked in!!) Day 2: at sea. Started off kind of cool, but then got nice, so we headed off to find a pool chair and camp for the rest of the day. Drinks of the day were always handy and very good, especially the Mango Tango. I think I had three of those. Seas stayed very calm for the next two days. Normally I use the sea bands or take Bonine, but I needed neither for the first three days. After that it was a different story. Day 3: at sea. Ditto above, except it was warm all day. And we had the Cruise Critic party. Great to meet everyone! It was later in the afternoon, and chatted a bit with the group coordinator. I thought they had it at a good time in the cruise on this trip. She did remark that they were kind of hard to schedule, especially with all the other activities and I understood this. I told her I was glad it was early in the cruise and that most people would prefer it this way. Day 4: Finally land!! Grand Cayman. Booked with Nativeway, along with I think our entire roll call, so it was kind of another cruisecritic party. They were great. It kind of was a big group, but they really took care of us. The weather was OK, but the seas were NOT co-operative at all. Very rough water to snorkel in and Stingray City was also very rough and quite crowded. The guides from Nativeway did a great job trying to keep us from the crowds and really made sure everyone that wanted to got to hold or touch a stingray. After that back to the ship to shower and back to Georgetown. We stopped at the Wreck Bar for some good local beer and a HUGE slice of rum cake!! Day 5: Cozumel. Arrived at 10 am and went into town for bit before our 1 pm catamaran snorkel. Taxis from our pier into town were $6 each way. Stopped at Carlos and Charlies, but it was quiet at that early hour. The excursion was OK. The snorkel was very crowded, but the beach break was nice. We did this excursion through the ship, next time I would do snorkeling on my own. Day 6: Progresso. LOVED IT. (Had to say this for all the naysayers that had me an itsy-bitsy bit worried about this port) The ports boards and tourist websites on this port were a great help. So I did what they all suggested. Make this a beach day. Head to the Malecon (2 blocks from the shuttle drop off). Find a comfy spot on the beach. Have someone bring you beers all day. We took this advice and had such a relaxing day. The chairs cost $3 a piece for the whole day. The beers the waiter brought were $2.50, but you could get them for $1 by walking down the beach and up a little to the Corona store. Where we hung out was mostly Mexicans on vacation, but later a few gringos from the ship showed up. It was a little weird to be the only Americans, but oh-so-much fun. All day, vendors would stroll by with mostly necklaces, bracelets and cheaper handcrafts, but they were NEVER pushy and left with a simple "no-gracias". We were one of the first ones on the beach and we didn't leave till really late. We would definitely love to come back to this port. Day 7: at sea. Boy was today rough!! Lots of people sick in the morning. I slept till about 11 and my husband finally woke me up-he was starving. Ate brunch in the Windjammer and found a couple of chairs in the Solarium to camp in for the rest of the day. Outside it was windy and cold. It took three Bonines and the Seabands to make it through this day! Had to pack too. I was very sad. Day 8: Disembarkation. Went very well. Everyone got off smoothly and we found our bags easily. Our cab had a blowout on the interstate just to keep things interesting. Caught our flight home in the early afternoon, just in time to make it to an Avalanche game that night! (We won.) Entertainment: went to all but one show and found them all interesting. The Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk") were wonderful, felt like an actual concert. Service: The best. Bartenders, wait staff and cabin attendant all excellent. Everyone smiling and willing to serve you. Food: In dining room, mediocre to excellent. Windjammer was better than I expected for lunch. One lunch I counted every single meat I could think of, they even had lamb!! For breakfast the Windjammer was the same every morning, but very good. We did room service once, had breakfast on our balcony while coming into Cozumel. They got everything right and I even added a few things that were not on the room service order card you have in your room. I had coffee delivered every morning (which was good) and every afternoon (which was awful). This was kind of weird, but I suspect the coffee in the morning was just fresher. Salon: Had my traditional ship pedicure, was very good, much better than the one on Adventure! Nice girl from England. The Spa is at the very back of the ship and had wonderful views. The Relaxation Room is the waiting room and it's nice to sit here and have a cup of tea. Casino: learned how to play Caribbean Stud Poker much to the dismay of my budget!! But it was great fun and the dealers were cheerful and pleasant while they were taking your money! The Casino is well laid out, not as smoky as I would expect and not too loud with the annoying slot machine noise. Any questions are certainly welcome. izzy@fmsoft.com March 2003 Read Less
Just got back from a wonderful week aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. If you don't want to read this long review then stop at the end of the next sentence and you will know all you need to. The Grandeur lives up to its name, she is ... Read More
Just got back from a wonderful week aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. If you don't want to read this long review then stop at the end of the next sentence and you will know all you need to. The Grandeur lives up to its name, she is truly the Grandeur Of The Seas! Our family of 45, Mom (39), Dad (40), Son (13), Son (16) and Son's girlfriend (16) all left Gettysburg, Pa., at 3 am in the morning and drove over 700 miles the Atlanta, Ga. Stayed the night with relatives. Drove 500 miles from Atlanta to New Orleans. We had reservations at the Springhill Suits by Marriott. We rebooked a really nice suite for 5 and paid less then $100 including a free buffet breakfast. The only hitch came when they charged us over $14 to park at the hotel. Without sounding cheap I feel that this was a little tacky. We arrived in N.O. at noon actually gaining an hour in our day due to the time change. After checking in we drove around town to get the lay of the land. We then walked down the river walk and then took a Street Car to the French Quarter. There, we had reservations for dinner at K-Pauls. Dinner there was great, but kind of pricey. After Dinner we started walking down the street and soon came across a Mule drawn wagon. He charged us $50 for a great tour of the French Quarter. He said it was usually 30 - 45 minutes but he was not busy and loved to talk so we spent well over and hour with him. He showed and told us everything, I think what he did not know he made up but who cares it's all fun. He stopped in front of the oldest bar in the US and they ran out with drinks for us (really yummy Hurricanes). Then when our tour was over he dropped us off on Bourbon St and we stopped in a few shops and had a couple more drinks. It did not look like it would to long a walk back to our Hotel so we headed off into the night and some 14 or more blocks later we where home. Day 1 Woke up and looked out one of the Hotel windows to see the top of the Grandeur sticking out above the Convention Center. After eating a really nice Buffet Breakfast we walked down to the River Walk and got beignets and our first pictures of the ship. She is very regale looking and we could not wait to board her. We then walked back to our hotel and repacked our carry on's . We drove the short distance to the ship and found a porter waiting to help us with our bags. We got there at 10:30 and had no trouble finding a parking space ($10 a day $70 for the week, you have to be out by noon on Saturday). I don't think you need to get there that early but we did not want to miss anything and we did not, even the 45-minute wait in the pier lounge. The main reason we got there so early was we hopped to upgrade at the pier but upon arrival found that the ship was sold out and no upgrades where available. Then finally about 11:15 they open the doors and we and about 300 others shuffled and pushed our way through security. As we entered the ship our eyes opened wide. I have read about dirty carpets and unpolished brass, well not in this ship. She was beautiful. The Centrum is wonderful. It looks like you are walking in one of those pretty fountain areas of at an upscale mall. Very shinny and pretty. We went to our room even though we where told it would not be ready. It was not but our room attendant let us drop our bags off in our closets and off we went exploring. Around noon we stopped in the Windjammer for a very nice Buffet lunch. The food was hot and tasty with more the enough choices. The ship filled quickly but never seemed over packed. We never had to stand in line for anything and other then a few shows never had trouble getting seats for anything. We spent the rest of that day in the solarium and the hot tubs. It was rather cold even for this time of year but the solarium was comfortable and quiet. The lounges in here were padded and in good supply. We purchased drink cards for the kids at the pool bar and they were off to find friends. We watched the sailing of the ship from the top deck and as night fell so did the temps. Most of the outside activities were canceled and we headed off to prepare for dinner. Dinner was GREAT. Our Waiter Richard, was from India and Our Assistant Waiter Ursula was from Trinidad. They were both wonderful and did everything they could to satisfy our every want and desire. My son and I wanted to see the play off game that night and found a small group to watch it with. Day 2 At Sea. It started to get a little warmer by the end of the day. Spent a lot of the in the solarium. It is almost too quiet there. The hot tubes fill up quickly but are a great place to relax, especially on a cool day. Day 3 At Sea. The weather was much better today. Still not a great deal of sun but it was warm enough to enjoy yourself. Had fun watching the horse racing, the horse auction, and the belly flop contest. Spent much of the day by the pool just chilling. There were a lot of people at the pool but never had trouble finding a lounge chair. Day 4 Grand Cayman. Took one of the first tenders into town. We had plans on just snorkeling near the pier but the beaches here seemed kind of dirty and small. As we were walking to find a different place to snorkel we passed a car rental and stopped in to see what it would cost, well $100 later we were behind the wheel of a cute little convertible. We drove up the cost to Hell. The whole way there we made the normal jokes about heading to Hell. We laughed most of the way there. Hell is not much more then a few T-Shirt shops and a post office but I am glade we went. For change we got Cayman money, its real pretty and a nice souvenir. We then drove south to Cemetery Reef. Its about half way between Hell and Georgetown and is truly beautiful. The snorkeling there was great and the beach very clean. We then drove beyond Georgetown to the Blowholes. There we got pictures and stopped at this lonesome old shack for fresh coconut. The man there chopped the top off and put a straw in it for us. We all tried some but were careful not to drink too much (it's supposed to make a great natural Laxative). Then when we finished drinking the water the man copped it is half and scooped out the fresh meat. He then sprinkled it with fresh sugar cane. WOW it was so good. Much different then any coconut I had tasted. We then drove back to Georgetown enjoying the wonderful scenery along the way. Getting a car at this port is a real treat. Driving on the wrong side of the road was different but again a fun experience. After dropping the rental off the agency took us back the pier where we had time for a little shopping before heading back to the ship on the 3rd to the last tender. Later that evening we found out that 3 people missed the ship and had to find alternate transportation to Cozumel or home. Day 5 Cozumel. Woke up to wind and light rain. The waves where about 8 - 10 feet but the Captain masterfully backed the ship into the dock. I was up on the top level on the left side of the ship up toward the bow and when I looked down I saw the captain in one of those little wings that stick out of the ship. He was at the controls of the ship and I watched in awe as he piloted the boat. I got it on videotape and to me it was a memory I will remember a very long time. As we docked there was several announcements canceling many of the snorkeling and beach activities. We had planned on going to Chakanaab for the day but decided that the $10 fee was not going to worth it because the wind would surely ruin the snorkeling. Instead we found a cute little horse drawn carriage and the 5 of us took a leisurely ride from the international pier into the town of Cozumel. In town the driver took us for a tour of the city and showed us where the well to do lived and also the very poor. He took us to a beautiful Catholic Church, and also showed us the police station. He then dropped us off in the middle of town and we headed off to find Mini-Golf Sally. As we neared the mini Golf I questioned what kind of mini golf could be located in this area of town but upon climbing the steps we felt like we walked out of town, and into a lush rain forest. We played a great round of golf laughed and had a great time drinking ice cold soda and beer. Sally is a great person and I recommend a visit to her golf course. It is only three short blocks in off the beach look for the big flag pole along the beach and head inland. It's right under the water tower. She gave us some coupons for a nice Mexican Restaurant where we had lunch and then we headed into town for some shopping. Nature has a way of calling and it became necessary to find a facility. What an eye opener. Fist off they charge .50 to use but don't forget to take the toilet paper with you. For the sum of your .50 they give you about 4 squares of toilet paper and believe me there is nothing else there to use. I was followed in by a little Mexican man who when he was done using the urinal he washed his hands off in the same. We then worked our way down the main street to Carlos And Charlie's. WOW I was unprepared. We took our teen aged kids with us into this crazy and wild place and I do think it may have been a mistake. It looks like a great place for young adults but a little to mature for 13 and 16 year olds. We then headed back to ship as it sailed toward our next port Progresso. Day 6 Progresso. We heard so many things about Progresso. Most bad. We did not want to ride 3 hours in a bus so we opted to go into town and see the beach. This was very fun. The beach here is very nice. Lots of free chairs and lounges. We also had a grass hut for shelter and on the beach bar service to keep us well supplied with beer and soda. You do have to watch the waiters they will try and take advantage and over charge if you let them. They charge between $2 and $2.50 for beer and between $1.50 and $2.50 for soda. We ordered some nachos and were told it would be $7 but then they tried to charge me $10.50 I told them I did not want it then so they left it for $7. The only problem with Progresso is the never ending supply of street venders. Just about the time you settle in at the beach here they come. The first to visit me was a young boy about 10 who wanted me to buy some jewelry from him. I felt sorry for him and I gave him $2 and told him I did not want anything........Big mistake.....I was inundated with them. I think he told his whole school class because they assaulted the beach in waves, like little marines. I quick said No thanks, but still they came. Then came the men and the ladies all selling something for jewelry, pens and T-shirts to hats watches and toys. Every time you were about to fall asleep another one came insisting that you needed to buy their wares. At about noon I was getting a little board with the beach and I headed off down town alone. I found many interesting things. It is really something to see how they live there. I went past there auto supply store, and their plumbing supply, then I found their Market. Not the one for the tourist but instead the one for the locals. It was really something to see. The butcher shop was a real butcher and the meat hung out in the open with no refrigeration right next to were they where killing a hog. It was a real education and made you wonder how people there do not get sick. Progresso was not our favorite port of call but you can make the most of it and still have fun. The ocean here was very murky and would not make a good place to snorkel so let you snorkeling gear on the boat. Day 7 At sea. We woke up to 16 foot waves and 40 mph winds. Not a good morning for anything but sleeping in. I heard several people talking about being sick. By mid afternoon things got better and people started coming out of their cabins. We played BINGO today. One lucky person won over $11,000.00 in cash. It was not me but I still had fun. This was the night that we tipped our Waiters and our room steward and said our goodbyes. Before going to bed we packed things up and began dreading the 1200 miles drive home. Day 8 Disembarkation. Our color must have been one of the last to be called and we did not get off the ship until almost 10:00 am. We had no trouble finding our bags and a very nice porter loaded them up on his cart and wheeled them to the curb for us. Then we loaded our van took one last look at the Grandeur said our goodbyes and away we went. The food I felt that everything was top notch. The Windjammer was very good. The pizza and burgers in the solarium were great. The rolls are hard but only because they are toasted. The dinners in the Dinning room where 5 star. One night we talked to a couple who have cruised over 60 times on all the different lines and they felt the meals in the dinning room were as good or better then any they have had on HAL, Celebrity, or Crystal. Our Cabin It was wonderful. I'm glad I did not pay more to upgrade. We had two L category inside cabins. Very nice, not too large but very well planned out. I'm a rather large man and had no trouble with the cabin, the bathroom, the shower, or the bed, even though we had four bags full of clothes. We found room to put them all away and our room steward kept our room neat and tidy. I don't think I got as good a service as I had on other ships, but the service was adequate and still deserving of the tip we gave. Entertainment John Blair was the Cruise Director. We sailed last year with him and his wife on the Sovereign Of The Seas. They are a lot of fun and do a wonderful job. The bands on board Oddasea and the Calypso band were both great. There was a lounge singer in the piano bar who was very popular. The Quest game was not to be missed. The Newlywed game was so funny. There was a couple there married over 60 years who won the show and the hearts of most of the audience. The comedians and the Broadway shows where all wonderful. If there was any problem it would be that I never wanted to go to bed. I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation (believe me I'm not complaining). In closing let me say that if you want to have fun this is the way to do it. If you want to nit pick and find fault I'm sure you can find things to complain about. I am already starting to look into booking another cruise for next year, and the Grandeur of the Seas will be on my list of possible ships for next year's cruise. Thank you for reading my review and I apologize for my grammar and spelling but I hope you enjoyed what I wrote. zieglers@adelphia.net April 2003 Read Less
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

Find a Grandeur of the Seas Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click