Like many mid-Atlantic cruisers, we booked the Grandeur out of Baltimore because it sailed from Baltimore! For a Thanksgiving holiday cruise, it was also relatively inexpensive, even for our junior suite. We also love the smaller ships. ... Read More
Like many mid-Atlantic cruisers, we booked the Grandeur out of Baltimore because it sailed from Baltimore! For a Thanksgiving holiday cruise, it was also relatively inexpensive, even for our junior suite. We also love the smaller ships. Parking was a bit high at $15/day, but oh so convenient. Embarkation at 12:30 pm was a breeze (because we had priority boarding) and debarkation was a bit slow with long lines going down the ramp from the ship.
Let’s start with some good. Our cabin was quite good. We had plenty of storage, a nice balcony, a good sized bathroom with a full tub, and one of the best cabin stewards we’d had on any ship. Mark went above and beyond to ensure we were comfortable in our cabin and had everything we needed. We were on deck 8, and sometimes late at night or early morning we heard them arranging the deck chairs on the deck above ours. It never stopped us from falling asleep nor did the noise wake us up.
The only negative of our cabin (which had nothing to do with the cabin itself) was the lack of room service! Room service was available for breakfast only, and the only FREE room service breakfast was simple continental fare. Anything else was extra.
Speaking of breakfast, it was a challenge in both the Windjammer café and the Main Dining Room (MDR). If you bothered to go to the MDR (where the breakfast menu did not change once in 11 days), once you were seated and ordered your breakfast, the wait was usually around 30 minutes, more if you ordered eggs benedict. And it was lukewarm at best. In the Windjammer, by the time you waited at each station to get what you wanted, and then struggled to find a seat at a table, your hot food was cold. I saw wait staff carrying trays of drinks, but not once did anyone of them offer to get me juice or coffee. If you got up to get your own, you were at risk of your food disappearing and someone else taking your seat. Suite guests (not junior suite guests) were able to get breakfast in one of the specialty restaurants, but the menu was still the same. The advantage was that you were seated right away and your breakfast was cooked there and delivered to you hot.
We opted not to try any of the specialty restaurants. We ate all our dinners in the main dining room. Service was good; we had an especially attentive head waiter. Our tablemates were a hoot and we enjoyed their company! I would say the food was average for cruise lines. I did have duck l’orange one night which was excellent. My husband said the prime rib was good, also. The night they served the petite lobster tails, I ate three! There were some nights, however, where I found none of the menu choices particularly appealing or tasty. I love ice cream for dessert, but the only options for 11 nights were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Even during the day, unless you wanted to pay extra at Ben & Jerry’s, your only ice cream option was self-serve, soft-serve vanilla, chocolate, or v-c twist cones.
There were plusses and minuses to the on-board entertainment. The production and headliner shows in the main theatre were quite good. As long as they had two of those shows each night (for late and early seating diners), you were likely to get a seat. The cruise director opened each show and he was delightful. A unique highlight for us was watching the very animated sign language interpreter. I don’t know if she was a cruise employee or not, but she was a show unto herself! The nights where there was only one show for all guests, the 800 person capacity theatre could not handle 2000+ guests. Entertainment after 9:30 was sparse; not because there was none, but because most of it was held in the Centrum atrium where seating capacity around the dance floor maybe accommodated about 40 guests. There was a bit more seating further away, and while you could hear, you could not see. Or you could hear and see if you were standing on the decks above overlooking the atrium, but you could not participate.
There were standard fair activities during the day: Trivia, bingo, pool games, art auctions, “free” seminars in the spa, casino jackpots, and shopping. I suppose this is no different than on any other cruise ship, but we were able to price their 75% off designer watch for considerably less on the internet. The same was true for some of the jewelry and watch stores in Nassau.
On cooler days the solarium was great. On the downside, on those cool and windy days, kids were allowed. Seating in the solarium was at a premium. Despite signs stating that reserving chairs was not allowed, people still reserved chairs unchallenged. I’d advise anyone who wanted a lounge chair to get there early and put your towel down. Speaking of towels, this was the first ship I’d ever been on where you had to show your key pass to get towels. If you did not return a towel, you would be charged $25.00 each!!
A word about the spa. On a port day, my husband and I both booked advertised specials -- a combo massage and facial. The treatment room I was given was so cold, that I cancelled my appointment. There was no way I could stay there unclothed for any length of time.
Lastly a word about our ports of call. For us, they were ideal. We were able to visit old college friends in Charleston, a beautiful southern city; tour the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (we took the ship’s shuttle and unguided tour which worked fine for us); and spend the day with our family who met us in Miami. We window-shopped in Nassau. (Okay, I did buy one or two trinkets for myself.) Unfortunately, windy conditions did not allow us to visit Coco Cay. It might have been nice even just to sail around in warmer waters for a day instead of sailing back north right away, but I’m sure there were reasons for those decisions.
We love cruising, and booked two future cruises while onboard, but not on the Grandeur and not with Royal Caribbean. We booked on Celebrity, one of our more favored cruise lines. Read Less