We cruised on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas on a repositioning itinerary, Boston to San Juan, 10/31/03. It appealed to us because it sailed from our home town. There were 4 of us: my wife, our almost 2-yea old daughter, her ... Read More
We cruised on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas on a repositioning itinerary, Boston to San Juan, 10/31/03. It appealed to us because it sailed from our home town. There were 4 of us: my wife, our almost 2-yea old daughter, her grandmother, and me. My main reason for writing is to provide a heads-up to others with very young children: Royal Caribbean isn't for you. I've had bad luck relying on travel agents, so I tend to research our vacations myself pretty thoroughly in advance. Before booking this trip, I looked up RCCL's website, other cruise websites & reviews, brochures, etc. to get as much info as I could. I noticed that there was a rule that the indoor pool/solarium was adults only, and that the organized Club Ocean programs were for kids 3 & up toilet trained, but couldn't find any other rules regarding diaper-aged kids, so I contacted RCCL directly. I knew that the ship lacks a dedicated children's pool but I asked if our daughter could at least use the outdoor pool, and use the playroom if supervised by us, and was told yes. Once on board, we encountered many large, boldly printed signs with stern rules clearly stating that children in diapers or pull ups were not permitted in any pool or playroom under any circumstances, period, even with swim diapers and parental supervision. Ouch. The Club Ocean supervisor simply handed us a bag with a couple of plastic toys in it to use in our cabin, as if this would solve everything for 8 days of sailing. I'm not criticizing these rules, they can make any rules they like, and we aren't the kind of parents who think our child is the center of the universe and should be able to go anywhere. But it was frustrating that while they had no trouble stating this policy very clearly once on board, it is not written anywhere in any company literature available before booking/boarding. Further, their own people seemed to be unaware of this rule when I contacted them. Do they bury this info to get you to buy, and then let you find out when it's too late to cancel? If they want an older crowd, they should just make the rules clear, and they will get the clientele they want, we can go elsewhere, and everyone's happy. (Are these rules unique to Royal Caribbean? I don't know, but we've been to resorts, playrooms, health clubs, and even public pools with no such restriction.) Bottom line: If you have diaper-aged kids, find another vacation.
Other comments about the cruise: Food: Fair to good banquet quality food. I was surprised that dinner offerings in the Windjammer buffet were about the same quality as in the main dining room. Service in both the dining room and the Windjammer at dinner (which we found easier with a 2 year old) was outstanding. At dinner the Windjammer is quiet, laid back and very friendly, with wait staff offering wine, desserts, etc. so it was actually a nice change from the structured banquet hall feel of the big dining room. They treated our daughter like she was their own. They even had a high chair set up for her each night, with her own specially folded napkin ready and waiting. Unlike company management, the wait staff in both rooms seems to like having toddlers around. One minor gripe...I know that main dining room seating isn't necessarily based on cabin price, but c'mon. We had the 2nd most expensive type of accommodation on board, and we were assigned to a dining room table in a dark, low ceiling area in a far corner of the room, next to a noisy busboy station. Couldn't they save those tables for folks paying bargain basement fares for inside cabins? It's another reason why we ended up in the Windjammer a lot.
Cabin: Excellent. We had a 2 bedroom/2bath family suite aft, which had a large living room with a glass wall overlooking a huge balcony facing the rear of the ship on deck 8. Highly recommended, especially if your family would otherwise need two regular balcony rooms, since it's cost competitive and has a much nicer balcony and living area. The "master" bedroom opens directly on to the balcony and has its own bathroom. The 2nd bedroom can sleep up to 4, has no window and is next to the 2nd bath. No noise problems, as there are cabins-no lounges- on the floor below and the spa directly above. Since our daughter had limited recreation options on the ship, we used the balcony a lot and improvised water games with a beach pail and squirt bottle. (Of course, we could do that at home for free!) The cabin, and the ship in general, were in good condition. A broken mirror hinge in the bathroom was fixed before I even had a chance to tell anyone. Itinerary: Boston/Bermuda/Antigua/St. Maarten/San Juan. Repositioning itineraries are nice if you like lots of at-sea days, which we do. I found the port days rather stressful. In St. Maarten, for example, we shared the pier with RCCL's mega ship Adventure of the Seas, plus the nearly as large Brilliance of the Seas, and another smaller ship, the Pacific. All together, this meant that about 8,000 passengers were descending on the Island at one time, total chaos. Just try to get a cab to any place (or worse yet, get one back). By the way, Bermuda is in remarkably good condition considering they had a major Hurricane only about 5 weeks earlier. Overall: Adequate food, nice cabin and great service... it could be a pleasant vacation for the people Royal Caribbean's facilities cater to--people without toddlers. Read Less