775 Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We traveled on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, from Baltimore, leaving on August 29th and returning on September 4th, 2004. We booked through Cruise.com, getting a rate of $654 per person for 6 nights, for a Category F outside ... Read More
We traveled on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, from Baltimore, leaving on August 29th and returning on September 4th, 2004. We booked through Cruise.com, getting a rate of $654 per person for 6 nights, for a Category F outside cabin on the 4th floor. I tried to get this same rate booking directly through Royal Caribbean, but they told me they could not match it and suggested I book through the other agency. First a note about what we expected from this vacation. We were not especially interested in shore excursions...after a very hectic and stressful summer, we wanted to get away to rest and relax before my husband started school in September. This vacation fit the bill exactly. Sailing from Baltimore was a definite plus. The port was less than an hour from our home, and not having to deal with the hassle of air travel added to our enjoyment of the trip. We arrived at the port around 12:30 p.m., dropped off our luggage at the ship, and I waited while my husband parked in the long-term lot, where he caught a shuttle back to the ship. We were checked through very quickly, and assigned a number and told to wait in a roped off waiting area. This area was very crowded, without enough seating, and some improvements could definitely be made. When boarding began (probably about 15 minutes from the time we entered the waiting area), Platinum and Diamond patrons were boarded first, then they began calling numbers...all the passengers holding one's boarded, then the two's etc. We had number 13. In total, we probably waited about 30-40 minutes from the time we entered the waiting area until we boarded the ship. We were very happy to find we had been upgraded from our category F outside stateroom to a balcony stateroom on the 7th floor - something that we would not have been able to afford on our own. In addition to the bed, the room contained a seating area with a sofa bed and vanity area, and sliding doors out to the balcony...very comfortable. The balcony contained two chairs and a small table. We did notice the rocking of the boat, which may have been due to being on a higher floor and in the rear of the ship. It was not enough to be uncomfortable, though, except for one night near the end of the trip when the sea was rough enough to make the dresser and cupboard doors keep opening and closing (the rough seas may have been due to Hurricane Frances which was in the Caribbean). We also noticed some vibrations from the engine when we were docking or leaving port, and there was some noise from the nightclub below, but again, not enough to bother us or keep us awake. I imagine if you were on a lower floor the engine vibrations would be louder. We read numerous reviews on this ship before we left, and we had high hopes. The ship exceeded our expectations. We had only sailed on Carnival in the past (Fantasy and Imagination from Florida), and we felt this ship was definitely a step above. The ship's decor was beautiful, with numerous comfortable spots to sit and watch the scenery go by. There was a nicely stocked library, and a game/card room, as well as a small putting green, shuffleboard, ping-pong, and rock climbing wall. At night you could wander from place to place easily, enjoying a band, show, dancing, game, etc. If we were not in the mood to go out, we were able to pick from a variety of late run movies on our in-cabin tv, in addition to a good number of television stations. The movie selection changed through the week, so there was always something to watch. We very much enjoyed this, something that was not offered on Carnival. One spot where we felt Royal Caribbean lacking versus Carnival was in the shows put on in the theatre. We felt Carnival's shows were much better. Food was very good, and service excellent. However, some portions were small, and when my husband and others tried to order a second entree or appetizer, it was delivered, but the servers did not seem happy about it. On Carnival it was never a problem...Carnival was always happy to serve as much as you wanted. Food in the Windjammer Cafe (casual eatery) was much better than the food served in Carnival's casual restaurant. Food was also available in the Solarium cafe - burgers, hot dogs, fries and pizza. One note: We called one night to find out if the Windjammer was serving the same menu as the formal dining room, and we were told they were. So, we skipped our assigned dining time and went to the Windjammer instead. Turns out they were serving a different menu. This was a disappointment as we had both been looking forward to that night's menu, and had we known we would have made plans to eat in the dining room. There were two very nice swimming pools - both larger than found on Carnival. In addition, each pool had a border of very shallow water where you could wade or sit on a bench and get your feet wet. One pool was in the Solarium, and this was a very nice area with padded lounge chairs, as well as tables and chairs. This pool was for adults only (16 or older), which was nice to have when the outdoor pool was crowded with children. This was also a nice place to swim when the outdoor deck was windy or when it was cool. The Solarium also had two good size hot tubs, and a roof that could be opened in nice weather. We spent a good deal of our time in one or the other of the pool areas. The outdoor pool area also contained two hot tubs. In comparison with Carnival: On Carnival we often had a hard time finding a deck chair on the days at sea. This was never a problem on this ship. Also, Carnival closed the pools when docked. This ship kept them open, which we really appreciated since we usually did not leave the ship. (A note: In Nassau we docked next to the Carnival Fantasy and it appeared the pool may have been open, so Carnival may have changed their policies.) We were sailing at the time Hurricane Frances was brewing in the Atlantic, so our itinerary was reversed - instead of Port Canaveral, then the Bahamas, we went to the Bahamas first. We had no problems, and the weather was beautiful. Our third stop at Port Canaveral had to be cancelled, though, when they closed the port to prepare for the hurricane. Royal Caribbean was able to arrange for a stop in Charleston, SC instead, which I was very happy about since it was a city I had always wanted to visit. When we returned, we were happy to find the debarkation procedure much better than what we had experienced with Carnival in the past. Our luggage had to be in the hall between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. the night before we left. We had to vacate our stateroom by 8:00 a.m. the following morning. We had a leisurely breakfast outside by the pool, and were able to wait for debarkation in any public area including the outside decks. roar those interested, family tv was playing in the theatre. Debarkation started at 9:30 a.m. when our ship was cleared by US customs. We were off the boat and in our car by 10, and home by 11:00. Like I said before, not having to go through a day of air travel to get home was pure heaven. In contrast, Carnival made us go to an assigned point (usually an indoor lounge), and wait until our color was called, and this was usually a lengthy and boring process. It seems to me that we also had to vacate our cabin much earlier than 8 a.m., but I may be remembering incorrectly. I also seem to remember that actual debarkation occurred much later in the morning on Carnival. I would definitely travel with Royal Caribbean in the future, and would recommend this ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This is my "official" Grandeur review - I hope it helps others here as much as you all have helped me. My 14 year old daughter and I sailed out of Baltimore on Grandeur July 11. I booked using an internet agency that advertises ... Read More
This is my "official" Grandeur review - I hope it helps others here as much as you all have helped me. My 14 year old daughter and I sailed out of Baltimore on Grandeur July 11. I booked using an internet agency that advertises here on CC. I booked via the internet, and had a few concerns about communication. Every time I tried to reach the Internet booking phone number, the voice mailbox was full and I could not leave a message. E-Mails took a few days to return. However, if I did get a live agent they were very helpful. The price was right and I would consider using them again if they were competitive. I would book via phone next time though. We live in CT, and took Amtrak down the day before. A very easy, relaxing 4 ½ hour trip, and far less expensive than flying. We stayed overnight at the Courtyard by Marriott, as I had qualified for a free night's stay using miles on my credit card. We also got a complimentary breakfast. We walked to the Inner Harbor, about 5-8 blocks, and had dinner at J Paul's. We stopped at the Cheesecake Factory to bring dessert back to our room. We then took a water taxi ride around the harbor to see the sites. Lovely city - would like to visit again. Sunday 7/11 We slept in, packed, and enjoyed our free breakfast. We took a cab from the hotel about 12:15 pm to the terminal. It was about a 20-minute ride. The cab dropped us off very close to the front of the terminal. We put our luggage on the carts and walked up to the terminal. I remember there being a huge line to the right, as we went to get in it one of the employees told us to come right in the door. I'm still not sure what those folks were waiting for. Standard check in, attempted upgrade, and we were in the Windjammer with the 1st Pina Colada by 1:30. We were told that our cabin wouldn't be ready until 2:30 but we took a chance and were able to drop off our carry on bags and meet one of the room stewards. Jen bought the soda card and felt she got her money's worth. Cabin 4042 was the best. We were steps from the stairs and the elevator, down the hall from the Champagne lounge and the Great Gatsby dining room. If (when) I sail Grandeur again I will request the same cabin. Plenty of storage for the 2 of us. No complaints about the cabin whatsoever. Our luggage was delivered by 3:30, so we brought it in our cabin and got ready for muster. A hint for everyone - if you have one of those hand held fans BRING IT. It was very hot during the drill, and I regretted leaving those in the cabin. Still, it was over relatively quickly and we went to the Viking Crown for sailaway. We met Herdfan from the boards up there and had a drink together. I love sailaway in air conditioning, although by then the pools were open and the pool deck was busy. We had early seating, because as my daughter says, late seating would interfere with her evening activities. Because of this we either had a late breakfast or early lunch at the Windjammer so we could enjoy dinner. We had a terrific table for 6. My DD was hoping to have teens her age, but no such luck, still. Chuck and Linda and Jeff and Megan were great dinner companions. Our waiter Lennon was fine, but our assistant Juan was even better. He got a little extra at the end. Chuck and Linda had breakfast and lunch in the Great Gatsby several times and said it was very good. After dinner it was time to unpack. I did a little shopping and we explored the ship. The little map they give you upon boarding was a great help the 1st few days. Jen went off to Adventure Ocean and I went to the Casino, where I spent a great amount of time. It's not the gambling so much as the camaraderie around the tables. The slots were very tight all cruise. We did not attend the opening show. Monday At Sea I got up and went to the Windjammer every morning for coffee and juice. If you want V8 it's free but you need to ask for it. I like my coffee very strong so I enjoyed it. Some folks thought it was too strong. I met some great folks that I would see every morning. We had our Meet and Mingle at 11:45. Of the 30 or so that signed up around 10-12 showed. We had snacks and 2 raffles. We also each got a lanyard with pockets and a Cruise Critic pin. It was nice to put faces to the names, and that way we also had someone to say hello to. Later we played bingo, went to the Captain's reception, and lazed around. I had every intention of reading on the promenade deck daily but it was too distracting. It was formal night so we had the obligatory photo taken in the Centrum. That was the only one we ended up buying. After dinner it was the Casino for me and Adventure Ocean for Jen. ( I have all the 12-14 year old age group cards for the week so if anyone wants some specifics let me know). This is the night I learned to play craps - best thing I ever did. I stepped up to the table and a very nice guy named Brian asked me if I had played before. I said no and he helped me out. I won!! It was one big family around the craps table. By Wednesday we knew each other's names, even the dealers knew us by name. At midnight I met Jen for the late night comedy show, which we both enjoyed, although she was a little embarrassed. Not much foul language but a lot of innuendo. Tuesday Freeport We had decided that we were not getting off, as neither of us wanted to shop, and I didn't want to spend money to get to the beach knowing Coco Cay was coming up. Lazy day on the ship. This also started our routine of me taking a nap in the afternoon for an hour or 2 to be better prepared to close the casino, then going to the Champagne lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail. If anyone sees Martin or Kevin in the Champagne lounge send them my best. Jen would go to afternoon tea at the Windjammer, which she loved. The show tonight was a magic show, which we both thought was very very good. By Tuesday Jen had found a nice group of kids to hang out with so my guilt about leaving her at night started to fade. Funny story - on departure day as we were waiting to leave I met some of the parents in her group. Come to find out I was playing craps with one of the dads every night! Wednesday Key West We had to be up early to clear before getting off. We went down at about 8:30 and walked right through. The line at 9:30 was through the casino to the Centrum. Go early!!! The ship cleared about 10:15. I had booked a private excursion with Herdfan before the cruise. We did a private chartered Kayak and snorkel trip. There were only 5 of us so it was very personalized. Captain Dave is a great guy. No problem getting back to the ship on time. He supplied soda and water and lunch, and we brought Corona and Smirnoff Ice on. The kayaking was excellent. The snorkeling was so so, but we did get to swim with some nurse sharks .If you go tell him Banks, Tina, Morgan, Jen and Alberta from the Grandeur sent you! On the walk back to the ship I bought snorkel gear for Jen and I, it was 1/3 paid for after Coco cay. We walked around Duvall a bit as we had never been. Banks got his replacement t shirt. We bought Key lime After Sun lotion and key lime patties at a small gift shop. I had a Key Lime pie on a stick and it was heavenly. Next time maybe the pub crawl!! This was the one night we did not eat in the dining room, as I knew after such a long day in the sun I would need a rest. I was sure to tell our tablemates and our waiter the day before so they wouldn't wait on us. We ate at the Windjammer around 8 after a nap and some Advil. I know that many people that cruise are very into the food. I enjoy a good meal but there is so much going on sometimes it seems like an intrusion. That's why I'm not talking too much about what was served. My DD loves formal dinners so much though that I make sure we do them more often than not. Thursday Coco Cay Heaven on the beach. For those that have been you know what I mean. For those that haven't it's an awesome place. I would be happy to stay there a few days. We got our lounge chairs, parked our stuff and snorkeled for a few hours The snorkeling around the farthest guard chair was awesome. We saw a barracuda and a few rays on the way out there. Once we got there we simply floated amidst tons of fish. As I told Jen we had the fish mojo going since they came up to us, pecked at our legs and goggles, and basically took us away. We decided to go back to the ship around 2 to beat the crowds, which we did. As we were coming back on the tender we saw some of the crew fishing off the back of the ship! One even had a fish on the line. Now that's an excursion idea! This was the day I discovered BBCs. The regular BBC on RCI is Bailey's, banana mix and colada mix. Very tasty. I got a special BBC from Kevin at the Champagne Lounge after dinner that had Kahlua, Vodka, and Coconut Rum added. After two of those I didn't know what to do with the dice at the Craps table!!! Friday Port Canaveral We had to be up early again to clear before getting off. We went down at about 8:30 and walked right through again. We had been to the Space Center on a land vacation and saw a shuttle launch, so we didn't plan to take any excursions. I couldn't see the point of taking an hour + trip each way to stand in line at Disney or Universal. Our tablemates Chuck and Linda went deep sea fishing and only caught bait fish. Jeff and Megan did a kayak excursion and said it was awesome. When you are in Port Canaveral, there are several transportation options to get to town or to Cocoa Beach. There is a shuttle that runs called the Fun Bus that the crew uses, it stops at a mall and also to Cocoa Beach You can ride all day for $6, which is much less than the other options. We stopped by the Loyalty Ambassador's desk and ended up booking a 9 night for Voyager for next year. I transferred to an internet only TA once we got back and saved $200 even after upgrading to a balcony cabin. We are also getting $200 shipboard credit because of some special they were running - credit for a 9 night is usually only $100. I had a facial at the spa which was very enjoyable. It was $20 off because it was a port day. Tonight was the Gala Buffet. The chocolate desserts were heavenly! Saturday At Sea Depression starts to set in realizing we need to pack. I spent a lot of time with my Casino family and Jen hung with her friends. Our tablemate Chuck won the final bingo, unfortunately it was split 3 ways. Still $2500 is good enough. We had a lovely farewell dinner with lots of hugs and e-mails to go around. Packed after dinner, then it was one more night out. Sunday Depart Up at 6, out of the cabin at 8, then hurry up and wait. Our color was called about 11 and we were at the train station by 11:30. I took several walks around the ship to say goodbye. Overall, I had the week of my life, as did my DD. The ship and crew are outstanding. I will definitely cruise the Grandeur again. Tammy from the boards is graciously scanning all the Compasses. I will post a link when she's done. Here's a link to some pics http://community.webshots.com/album/164969420vjMXGE?799 Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
Booking only a week before we sailed, we wondered we if would be able to find out enough 'info' about what to expect on and about the ship. My husband was forced to change his vacation week and we wanted something special to ... Read More
Booking only a week before we sailed, we wondered we if would be able to find out enough 'info' about what to expect on and about the ship. My husband was forced to change his vacation week and we wanted something special to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. We were not disappointed at all in our late booking or the ship selection. Royal Caribbean Line seems to have a good, knowledgeable and helpful professional staff everywhere on the ship and at dockside, to include the friendly captain!! We loved our cabin on the very back of the ship--the views were all spectacular(especially sunrises..I sat my alarm clock for 5am, grabbed a book & my camera & thoroughly enjoyed Nature's beauty & the peacefulness every morning except one rainy morning, but that too was interesting); plus our balcony was extra large and very private with 3 deck chairs and a table. Yes, it was 150 steps from the elevator and stairs, but it helped me lose 5 lbs that week, and my husband only gained 2!! We even got all of our first-choice shore excursions, even though we had to wait to sign up for them on the ship---our only bad selection was Epcot Center---it is much, much, much too hot to really enjoy it in July. We should have chosen the Coco Beach or even stayed on the ship around the pool or done more massages. The only other suggested change I would make in the sailing schedule, would be to try to leave Key West (FL) after dark or as the sun is setting; however, by eating at the 8:30pm dinner, with out table near the window (with 6 very pleasant tablemates), we got to see the sunset almost every night....so beautiful!!! The food was ample, warm, and delicious with lots of variety in the main dining room. If you wanted more of something, it was available for ordering or if you wanted 2 desserts or extra veggies, that too one could have. Table Service was always outstanding even though we ate breakfast & lunch in the downstairs section. Room service was excellent and the room stewards were equally helpful with extra towels. Spas services were outstanding also, just wish we had signed up for even more of them and spent more time in the Relaxation Room when they weren't having classes (which is possible). The swimming pools and hot tubs were absolutely beautiful, clean and not crowded, I think due to the layout. We decided one could have an extremely pampered vacation without even ever leaving the ship!! One of our very favorite days was visiting the ship's private island...plenty of lounge chairs, snorkeling made easy by instructions and rental right there on the beach, and beautiful shallow beach that got deeper gradually plus they had great lunch with lots of different drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. We can't say enough about the EASE of being able to embark and disembark at Baltimore....it was fantastic, and we think we definitely want to do it again. Sailing under the Bay Bridge was magnificent because our son had swam between the bridges from shore to shore 3 times and it gave us an appreciation of how far he had to swim!!! This was truly one of the most relaxing and pampered vacations we have had. We've been telling lots of our friends in hopes we can get a good group to sail together next year in late May or June. For people who have young children or teens, this ship had lots of offer. When we were boarding my husband was a bit alarmed seeing so many families, but no one was ever noisy and the areas where children were not allowed was enforced. The best advice I read before our trip was to get patches for behind our ears for seasickness and bring a multi-pronged extension cord(s) for curling irons and other electronic gadgets...I am just so glad our cabin did NOT have a computer connection otherwise my husband wouldn't have gotten as much rest...checking his email once a day seemed to be enough to handle what was happening back in his office!!! I didn't even bother!!! We heard the Grandeur is going in for a "re-make/update/refurbishing", so it should be even more spectacular next time!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
I took my first cruise ever on Grandeur of the Seas this July. Leaving from Baltimore was great because of its proximity to my home; in fact, it is why we chose this particular cruise. The port itself was far from eye-pleasing. The ship ... Read More
I took my first cruise ever on Grandeur of the Seas this July. Leaving from Baltimore was great because of its proximity to my home; in fact, it is why we chose this particular cruise. The port itself was far from eye-pleasing. The ship itself was very beautiful. My favorite places included the Viking Crown Lounge, the Champagne Bar, and Deck 9 (pool deck). The cruise staff did an excellent job of providing activities for all ages and interests. The Stars at Sea program is highly commendable. The welcome aboard show featuring Dan Bennet, a Las Vegas performer, was highly amusing. Not a single complaint can be said of the service; both our cabin attendant and waiter (and assistant waiter) were excellent. The Deck 4 atrium Bartender was truly a delight as well. Food was very good, as well. The first stop, Freeport, was a great disappointment. In retrospect, I doubt i would leave the ship. We choose to take a taxi to Lucaya where we spent a day at the beach. The following day the ship docked at Key West. Luckily, Key West was a great place to vacation for a day. We walked around, then we went to the beach at Fort Taylor. Without a doubt, the third stop, CocoCay, was my favorite. Royal Caribbean's private island is truly a great place for all ages. We snorkeled, which was, in one word, amazing. The Aquapark was also fun. Day Four was spent at Port Canaveral. (Orlando) While some passengers chose to go to the theme parks or Coco Beachm (not to be confused with CoCoCay) we stayed on board. There was still plenty to do. The last day at sea was also highly enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
Hello fellow cruisers or soon to be first time cruisers. This was my first cruise. I(with my hubby) went for 7 days on The Grandeur of the Seas out of baltimore to free port, key west , cococay, and port canaveral. First embarkation: It ... Read More
Hello fellow cruisers or soon to be first time cruisers. This was my first cruise. I(with my hubby) went for 7 days on The Grandeur of the Seas out of baltimore to free port, key west , cococay, and port canaveral. First embarkation: It was a very rainy day (we saw three accidents on our drive to the port) I wanted to leave by 11am but my hubby putzed around and we left at 1230, hit traffic accidents and bad weather but arrived at 2pm. The arrangement of drop off luggage and one of you drives the car to the parking lot and gets a buz ride back was ok. The line in was not too long, so I was in before hubby got back, I waited for a bit then went through without him. As the lines were getting long, the port authority person took his name so he was able to jump in and come through the line marginally faster. Then lines were long but moved well. I had hopes that the junior suite would allow us to go through the empty "suite and diamond, platinum members line" but I made the mistake of asking first and the guy said no. I could have just went through. In any case we met nice people in line and saw them throughout the cruise. Hi Ed and Barb. It was nice to "know" someone. Things I didn't use: insulated cups, once or twice only lunch bags they wouldn't let you take food off ship, numerous bathing suits only wore two, balcony dries em, great anti-bacterial hand, wash didn't use it or the clorox wipes, didn't need night light but didn't bring one, flashlight didn't use but will probably bring one again just in case. Things I didn't bring that I wish I had: clock, though wake up call feature worked fine. Third The ship: looked great to me! Enjoyed the centrum, the numerous comfy lounges, the adult only solarium pool and hot tub, the spa, the casino (more on that later. I entertained myself in the casino often. I won second place (265$ minus 20 $ entry fee plus a t shirt) in the black jack tournament. That was fun and people came up to me throughout the cruise to congratulate me. Before going on the cruise I read about craps and practiced online which turned out to be great fun and profitable in the ship casino. The dealers were very friendly and helpful. The spa was very nice. I waited a long time to set up my appointment and my suggestion would be to make this an online option asap. It's kinda a pain to go there off the bat and stand around when all you want to do is see the ship. I was told by an rci rep when I called the spa that I could make the appointments via the tv but that was not true on the grandeur. The tv was not interactive in any way. She had also told me I could see my bar charges on the tv but we couldn't. Anyway my massages were very pleasant, the staff friendly and not once did I get "pitched" to buy anything. Fifth The ports of call: Freeport, not very nice for most people although since we did the dolphin excursion we had a nice boat ride and good time learning about and touching the dolphins. The drive through town not so great. The bus was hot and views depressed. Key west ok. First the new safety measures require all passengers to check in with customs authorities before anyone can get off. Thus my sleep in day was ruined and drunks got called for hours because they didn't go (on the pa system so even though we were done we couldn't go back to sleep) I would recommend cruise line excursions because I think the chances of getting screwed up in an american port is very likely with a independently purchased excursion. We had no plans for that day as it was our twentieth anniversary and we didn't want too much pressure. we walked around, ate lunch got key lime pie and because of the heat were exhausted so we went back to the ship gladly. Key west is pretty nice and people I talked to who did the pub crawl seemed to have a great time (which they paid for the next day lol) cococay very nice, built up but private, we did the snorkeling which was awesome but next time I'll bring my own. People loved the mats although I didn't do much lounging. I was snorkeling so I didn't get much use out of mine. The shallow water was warm and not refreshing to me once I had been in deeper water. Some people said they found private areas to lay out but I went in the crowded area (although we found seats no problem and just went in the water). They provided a buffet lunch which was fine and I didn't go to any of the shops or game areas. We went back once done with snorkeling because they warned us that the late tenders were going to be crowded and if we missed the last one we would be left. Port canaveral. I have a relative here so I did a local bar with music and the pier. I did no excursions so I don't know how they are. It seemed pretty nice to me. Sixth food breakfast windjammer buffet I found overrated but again my husband really liked it. Great Gatsby dining room offered wait staff and eggs benedict(uninspired). Room service seemed to me to be the best alternative. I had it brought to me and could order omelets, fruit, coffee, breads, etc all for a tip to the server who brought it. Lunch at windjammer same as breakfast hubby really likes it but i didn't (guess i don't care for buffet that much). Great Gatsby dining room repetitive menu but food and dessert were good. The rueben was very bready with scant cornbeef but tasty according to my husband. Solarium cafe staff were unfriendly, only unfriendly ones i ever found) maybe they were hot. The fries were very good the burgers a little over cooked, hot dogs fine and good condiments provided. Dinner awesome waiter and assistant waiter, food excellent not always top gourmet but many times yes. Fun singing and dancing with staff. You can order two appetizers, entrees, desserts whatever you want. We brought wine and champagne on three occasions and were never charged a corking fee. In fact our waiter offered to chill our anniversary champagne for us. The head waiter brought us a cake with a candle on our anniversary and they sang to us. We enjoyed our table mates very much. We shared wine and excellent conversation. We had late dining which worked out well for us but the midnight buffet which was only one night was too close to our dining experience to be fully enjoyed. Although I went and got some chocolate strawberries and other tidbits and ate them with breakfast the next day. Miscellaneous. I preordered chocolate strawberries for our anniversary night and they brought white chocoloate ones. I asked the server to see if he could bring me reg ones as I don't care for white chocoloate and he tried but came back with the same ones and said no. This was a disappointment but no big deal. They were ok but still I don't know why they couldn't exchange them. Others got the reg ones and they had them 2 days later at the midnight buffet. There was so much to do that they didn't start off loading til almost 11am. We were allowed to wait in any lounge though so we were comfortable, just tired. Once our color was called we had no big wait just streamed out, got our bags, got a ported, went to the bus that took us right to our car (lucky parking some were not so lucky) and home we went...... all in all satisfied with our trip and thrilled with cruising ! Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
This was my first cruise but I had spent many hours reading everything I could about the ship, the cruise line, and the ports. My advice is don't bother to do all that work. RCCL has a lot of processes in place that take care of all ... Read More
This was my first cruise but I had spent many hours reading everything I could about the ship, the cruise line, and the ports. My advice is don't bother to do all that work. RCCL has a lot of processes in place that take care of all your concerns. I am a perfectionist and while I could point out a lot of little things I would do better, the fact is that the ship and the service were outstanding. Unless you look for reasons to complain you will be very happy with both the Grandeur and RCCL. We took the modified cruise on June 11th through 20th. This cruise was one day shorter than normal (10 days/9 nights) and skipped CocoCay. I wished that they had skipped Freeport and included CocoCay but you cannot have everything. The cab I had scheduled several days before never showed up and I had to drive to the port. I have lived in Baltimore since 1967 and I should have known better. It was a rainy day and the cabs make more with short runs so they just don't come. This is the second time it has happened to me (two different companies) and I will use a sedan service/limo in the future. The Seagirt terminal at Dundalk is a freight terminal and is not set up for cruise ships. The long-term parking is in-between two areas where they store freight and is not convenient. I reached the port at 2 PM and did not get on the ship until after 4 PM. They only had two lines for all the cars and a couple of porters. Very poor service on shore but that is not the cruise line's fault. The check-in area is in a big shed. No place to sit at all. Here the cruise line was handling things and it went quite fast. It only required about 15 minutes to check in despite very long lines. Well organized and lots of people doing the check-in. As we entered the ship I was impressed with the process. All the younger kids were immediately identified and given wristbands. I did not have any children with me but everyone who did was very complementary of the two programs that RCCL has in place. We had a lot of kids on-board but we rarely saw them other than at meals and they were mostly under control. I observed RCCL officers quietly adjusting the teenager's behavior a few times and felt they did a great job. The cabin was ready when we arrived and the muster drill, while a necessary nuisance, went very smoothly. The cabin had plenty of room for the two of us and could easily have supported two more people if we wanted to crowd it a bit. It had plenty of storage space. We only needed about half the cabinets and cubbyholes. And yes we brought at least twice the clothes we needed. We had a balcony mid-ships (8048) and it had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs and a small table. Very nice, pretty quiet and plenty of room to relax. Our cabin attendant introduced herself and offered extra pillows, towels etc. It was the start of the outstanding service she provided all cruise. The room was cleaner than any hotel room outside of a five star and was always made up quickly and the ice bucket was always full. Our dinner waiter was from India and was outstanding as was our assistant waiter. The RCCL process is great, the waiter had two tables. The assistant waiter also has two tables but the second table is with a different waiter. That way at least one of them was always immediately available at our table and usually anticipated our needs before we knew we had them. The food was very good. The dinner menus were varied and everyone at our table was pleased at the quality of the food. I tried every beef dish and others favored the seafood but everyone had at least one desert. Our waiter, Sanji, remembered everything and by the second night he was making suggestions tailored to the diners individual preferences. He was always offering something extra. Ice Cream with the deserts or a special salad. I don't usually eat salad or most appetizers but he was so determined to please me that he made up fruit plates (best melon I have ever had) and custom made a salad for me with just the ingredients I enjoyed. I cannot emphasize enough how pleased I was with the food and the service. I recognized both of our servers financially but even the extra most of us at the table gave, was not enough to truly reward the excellent service. I was surprised that our head-waiter (Maitre D) came to the table twice every night and spoke to each passenger individually. She remembered what we were eating and made sure we were happy. One night as a joke I told her that we wanted Filet Minion to be on the menu every night and the next night she arranged for our table to have not only the regular menu but brought Filet Minion for everyone who wanted it (We all did). Most of us ate two meals that night. It was great. She really earned her recognition. Breakfast and lunch in the dinning room were not up to the dinner standard. I tried once at each meal and was disappointed. I missed my dinner waiter but the food was still pretty good. The Muy Grande Casadia was excellent. The food in the buffet was not very good. About the same as any "all you can eat" place at home. But the Windjammer was very well maintained and the tables were quickly cleaned. The Solarium Cafe was far better than expected. The server was really fast and friendly. The pizza was food service quality but not too bad. The hamburgers and hot dogs were average but the French fries were some of the best I have ever eaten. Crisp and hot. The activities were impressive. Warren was the cruise director and he had a good staff. They were so energetic and friendly you really wanted to participate. I ended up doing all of the fitness activities and games. I earned 26 fitness dollars but gave them to a family that walked the mile with me every morning. The entertainment was great. Two comedians (Rick Star and Gary Muledear) including a second late night show for the adults. An outstanding magician named Tyler Night with his assistant Missy. Good illusions but even better staging and production. It was really interesting to see a juggler do a fantastic job on a rolling stage. He was on just as we pulled out of port and the thrusters were shaking the entire room while he juggled everything up to a bowling ball. The production shows were acceptable, not Broadway quality but energetic and fast moving. We also had an impressionist (Joey Van) and a gymnast who were pretty good. About the same level as a Vegas lounge act. We stopped at Key West first and it was very organized. I certainly believe what our guide told us that the majority of their economy was tourism. The Conch train was a good way to se the city. I wish we had been there at night to see the street performers at Mallory Square but we left at 3 PM to get to Cozumel. Cozumel was great; we did the Dolphin Swim and Snorkel through the ship. The Royal swim is better but the ship did not offer it. Either way it was a great experience and should not be missed. We tendered in Belize and the sea was extremely rough. I joked with the other passengers that I was glad I did not do the Crazy boat excursion in Key West as I got the same experience free in Belize. It was actually a lot of fun but very rough on the back from the boat bouncing on the ways. I went to the Mayan Ruins, which were OK, but not worth the long bus ride. My son did the cave tubing along with 270 people from the ship. It was too big a crowd but the tour just made it back in time and it was worth the peace of mind to know the ship would wait for it's own tour but not a private one. Our last stop was Freeport and I will never bother to get off the ship there again. They cancelled the Semi-Submarine and the glass bottom boat tours claiming rough seas but we went to the excursion pier ourselves and it was dead calm. We went shopping instead and it was the worse shopping I ever saw. A hundred souvenir and jewelry shops, all with the same items and all over-priced almost double so they could claim to give you a big discount. The worst was the taxi drivers. The ship tells you that it is $4-$5 for a taxi ride to the shopping areas and that is what they charge from the port but trying to get back is unbelievable. They insist on getting a full van before they will leave and that takes about 30 minutes in the hot sun. Our driver said he would only take us back if we paid double to make up for the empty seats in his van. We would have paid anything to get out of there and did. We left two people behind on the dock. Don't be late, the ship leaves on time. Debarkation involved the Seagrit terminal and the Customs Service so it was pretty bad. The ship arrived at 8 AM and they kept us waiting until 10:15 AM to debark. The usual luggage pile was there and they only had four porters for 2,234 people. Once we found our luggage, we had to carry it to a bus, which then took us NEAR the parking lot. To top things off, there are no signs telling you how to get out of the parking lot and back on the highway. We, and a lot of other cars, went down several apparent exits until we came to one with just cones blocking it. I was about to remove the cones when a woman came out of the guardhouse and let us out. I got home a half hour later. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
What a wonderful vacation! We had last cruised with Disney in July 2002 and were a bit concerned that RCI wouldn't quite measure up, but it exceeded our expectations in all areas. The service and entertainment were exceptional, the ... Read More
What a wonderful vacation! We had last cruised with Disney in July 2002 and were a bit concerned that RCI wouldn't quite measure up, but it exceeded our expectations in all areas. The service and entertainment were exceptional, the food was quite good, the staterooms were small but VERY efficiently laid out--with so much storage space that I kept forgetting where I'd put things--and all in all we had a great time. The Grandeur is a beautiful ship (we LOVED all the glass, the Centrum, and the views from the Viking Crown Lounge), and we thought it was the perfect size for a 7-night cruise. I can't say enough good things about the service staff: our waiter, Attila from Hungary, assistant waiter Shannaz, head waiter Tahsin, and stateroom attendant Galeane couldn't have been more attentive. We felt so spoiled all week! And I have to say a huge "kudos" to cruise director Warren Melhuis, who was always a brilliant ray of sunshine and seemed to be EVERYWHERE, at all hours of the day and night. Does the man never sleep? By the end of the cruise (he was there to say farewell to everyone and even helped maneuver my mother-in-law's wheelchair onto the gangplank), we were convinced he had about 20 clones. He (and all of his staff) were just fantastic. We were: Me (celebrating the big five-oh birthday); DH (the sole male of the family); his mom, and DD and her friend (both almost 16). I'm now totally sold on cruises as the perfect family vacation--there was something for everyone to do, almost all of the time. My MIL enjoyed: the food and service (especially our darling waiter Attila); relaxing on our balcony (DH & I had a balcony cabin; the girls and MIL were across the hall from us in interior ones) watching the water go by, reading, enjoying a before-dinner drink, or reading/dozing off over her book; beating her son at a game of Scrabble; playing Bingo; relaxing in the solarium; and watching the girls, all dressed up for dinner, enjoy their (nonalcoholic) foo-foo drinks. She DIDN'T particularly like: the LONG walk down the LONG hallway to our cabins. (We booked late and the only cabins they had together were at the far aft end of the ship. Next time we'll book earlier for a more central location!) The girls enjoyed: having their very own private cabin, ordering room service (which they kept amazingly tidy, thanks to the ample and convenient storage), running on the jogging deck, staying up late, sleeping late, getting dressed up for dinner, meeting new friends (though that didn't happen until the next-to-last day), late night french fries from the solarium grill; 3 days of beach time (Port Lucaya in Freeport, Coco Cay, and Cocoa Beach), snorkeling (the Fury catamaran trip in Key West), and just "walking around" the ship. They DIDN'T like: the saltwater pools and the apparently nonexistent teen program for their age group (15-17). They complained that every time they went to the Fantaseas "teen club" it was full of little kids. When they tried to find the "411" gathering there on the first night, they were "thrown out" by the counselors for the 12-14 year old group, but not told where THEIR age group was gathering. When they DID figure out where that was, by the time they got there there were just a few older boys there... Throughout the week they occasionally tried--without success--to find group activities for their age group, but finally just gave up and started talking to kids they saw walking around. I know this is a tough age group to program for, but I think RCI could make more of an effort... DH and I loved: having our own, private cabin (last cruise we shared w/DD and my niece); leaving the balcony door open at night and listening to the sound of the water rushing by; waking up to the sea view in the morning; most of the shows; the wonderful service and meals (good banquet-quality fare, with better seafood, soups, appetizers & desserts than we expected); playing nickel slots and video poker in the casino (no big winners, but we didn't lose much either), meeting interesting new people (including fellow CruiseCritics at the Meet & Mingle), relaxing in the never-crowded solarium and swimming in the pool there, walking around decks 10 and 4, lazing away in a secluded, shady spot by the water on CocoCay (plenty of lounge chairs and hammocks--we found two of each!), the captain's "Nautical Notes" talk (very informative), and just being away from the "real world" (we avoided the news ALL WEEK!). My only real complaint was about the lack of service from the "Explorations" desk staff. The evening before we got to Port Canaveral, I asked about the Cocoa Beach Transfer, since the girls wanted to go to RonJon's Surf Shop and hang out on the beach the next day. In response to the question "Where do we get dropped off, and how far is it from RonJon's and the beach," the woman at the desk told me "I know nothing about Cocoa Beach; nobody on our staff has ever been there." She then proceeded to tell me that the bus would drop us off at Cocoa Village, an upscale shopping area. (It didn't; it took us to a very convenient location, just two blocks from RonJon's and a block from a very nice public beach--but the people who wanted to go to Cocoa Village had to take a cab or trolley to get there...) This, to me, is simply inexcusable... The focus among the Explorations staff seemed to be getting people to shop and selling the "big ticket" excursions. They could really use some basic training in customer service (like: the answer to any guest's question should be "I'll find out," NOT "I don't know"!) But I don't want to end this review on a negative note, because we really had a great time. We are not big "joiners" and didn't take advantage of any of the group activities; in fact, we adults weren't even able to stay awake for any of the late-night event, including the two midnight buffets--but we enjoyed watching the sun rise over the horizon and walking around the almost deserted ship in the early am hours. (When my dad saw our photos, his reaction was "were there any other people on the ship?" In fact, it was a full sailing!) I think this just proves that on the right cruise, anyone can have a wonderful time. And this one was just right for us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS MAY THE 1ST 2004 Well let me start by saying that I have been on 6 other cruises Carnival Celebrity ncl & Rcl lines. ALSO my wife & I are both 38 yrs old & we traveled with friends 2 people to a cabin. ... Read More
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS MAY THE 1ST 2004 Well let me start by saying that I have been on 6 other cruises Carnival Celebrity ncl & Rcl lines. ALSO my wife & I are both 38 yrs old & we traveled with friends 2 people to a cabin. The ages of the people on the ship were varied with a lot of people our age! Embarking was the fastest I've seen! We got a Limo at the airport although the 1 we booked wasn't there! We got 1 for $40 for 4 people booze included its cheaper than the bus thing! We waited for 5 min online & boarded in another 10. Public rooms : The ship was in great shape! I was worried because I read some very bad reviews. Besides the SS norway It was the nicest ship Ive been on! Pool & solarium was great! chairs plentiful by the pool sometimes we stood for 5 min by the solarium. but didn't have a problem! The Dining rooms were very nice even though we were seated by the door.The theater was very nice & spacious! the seats very comfortable! The village people were there even though we missed them. Also the bars' decor was Elegant & the Disco the nicest I've seen on a ship! CABINS: Another thing I was worried about as the Sq. feet listed was the smallest I've seen BUT the way it was arranged was the best I've seen! we were very comfortable there our cabin was close to the champagne bar which was a great location also I had a soda pass all I had to do was walk like 15 feet to the bar for sodas in the room. I recommend the soda pass & getting a cabin next to the bar! I didn't think about this when I booked my cruise but I lucked into it! The only shore excursion I did was the Fiesta party boat in Cox Mexico! It was FANTASTIC! I will do it 2-3 more times as I am a cruise addict & will be there again I am sure! Dining was excellent! Again I heard so-so reviews about this & I was wondering what they were talking about! The only ship line that I was on that was better was Celebrity & It was a close 2nd. The shrimp in the cocktails were small my only complaint! I had escargot on special order almost every night & My wife & I asked our waiter to see the following night menu every night If we didn't see anything that grabbed us we would just order something special that wasn't on the menu! They always accommodated us! The entertainment was good although we were too pooped to go to a lot of shows! The value for price was excellent!!!! I cannot stress this enough!! I booked online and got a lg inside for 2 for $500.00 per person & booked my own air! $500 was a lot cheaper than any other cruise I've been on & the cruise was 9 nights instead of 7!as we were repositioning to Baltimore I live in NYC & I know that it is safer to book through the cruise line but what I did was find out what airline flight the ship would have booked me on & booked it myself! Knowing that if the flight was late the ship would wait for the other passengers which on the way home I noticed a lot of them. I would recommend booking through an online agency as I found that the prices are a lot cheaper as these agencies buy cabins in blocks of 100 or so at a much lower rate & sell them at a profit. RCL wanted $900 for the same cruise & cabin. I would & I am going to go on this ship again. I was so pleased with everything this was my favorite ship even though the SS Norway was a little nicer the service was better on THE GRANDEUR the pools Bigger The soda pass is unique. I would have rated the Norway as a 5 The Carnival Destiny as a 4 the Ncl sun a 4 the celebrity Zenith a 3 just to name a few for all you cruise addicts out there who might have been on other ships. Now RCL is my favorite cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
10 days of almost-paradise. That's the best way I can explain our cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. It was just a 20 minute taxi ride from the Baltimore airport to the dock. When we arrived, the taxi driver dropped us off right by ... Read More
10 days of almost-paradise. That's the best way I can explain our cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. It was just a 20 minute taxi ride from the Baltimore airport to the dock. When we arrived, the taxi driver dropped us off right by luggage carts and loaded our luggage onto them. Had I been thinking, I would have kept a pair of shorts with me, but before the day was done, our luggage arrived at our stateroom. Having just become Platinum members, we were whisked to the front of the line for a speedy check in. As we stepped on board, we were greeted by an Adventure Oceans staff member who gave our young son a wristband with his muster station number on it as well as a schedule of the kids events on board. One of my favorite things on all Royal Caribbean cruises is the carved beef that you can usually just get on the first day in the Windjammer cafe. It hasn't been great on all of the ships, but it was very good on the Grandeur. Leaving the Windjammer, we were accosted for about the 5th time by the bar staff trying to sell us all you can drink sodas for the cruise. While these little diabetes makers aren't my favorite, we indulged our son in one. This was our first cruise sailing out of the Chesapeake Bay and we had an extra treat of seeing one of the military boats from Annapolis anchored near the military academy. I like scotch. Good single malt scotch to be more specific. It's become a routine of mine to buy a bottle of single malt on the first day and pay the extra $9.50 to consume it in my stateroom. I like to have a drink as we get ready for dinner. Sadly, the Grandeur didn't have any single malt in the shop but they were quick to point out that they had Johnnie Walker Blue, which is an overpriced, over hyped blend. I ended up settling for a bottle of a scotch called Swing, which is another JW product, but a blend all the same. It was disappointing. Our first full day was an at-sea day. Sunny, bright and warm, we lounged on deck and indulged in pina coladas from always ready bar staff. One thing that struck me as odd was that they no longer carry the bottles of rum with them to spike the virgin drinks. They now carry water glasses full of rum and then pour some on top of your drink. The drinks still tasted great, but their method of dispensing just seemed odd to me. The pools are filled with ocean water and after jumping in I got a smile on my face. When I jump into a Royal Caribbean pool for the first time on a ship it's always the same --- that soothing, healing and comforting reminder that I'm about to have a great vacation. I'm a hot tub fan. I enjoy the conversation and the warmth. Perhaps it's because I live in a cold climate. During the days, the tubs were kept warm, but if there was one thing I would have changed, it was the temperature at night. It appeared that they turned off the heaters because whenever I would take a dip after dinner they were just barely warm. We attended a meet-and-mingle party for people who signed up through cruisecritic.com and we were pleased to make several friends who we socialized with throughout the cruise. It was funny how several of the other passengers continued to call me by my login name, Midwest Jim. Our waiter, Vener from the Philippines, was spectacular. Every night he went the extra mile to impress us with his service. Always making great recommendations, we were never disappointed. If we could assure that we could get Vener on every cruise we took, we would look at more than just the itinerary and the ship before booking. The escargot was a spectacular indulgence of snail, garlic and butter. The shrimp ravioli was a taste explosion that I have never before experienced in ravioli. The bisques - oh the bisques, were simply amazing. Our headwaiter was a charming man who made sure that even our young son felt spoiled. Our favorite bartender was at the pool. David Bassin of Nicaragua was always quick and friendly. My 8 year old son found a friend in David. Perhaps it was because he was always setting him up with his soda fix, but later in the cruise David shared that he had a son at home who was the same age as my son and as all kids that age, loved video games also. It was a pleasant reminder that the ship staff has family and we got the feeling that David probably spoils his little boy as much as he spoiled ours. Our cabin steward was efficient. Of the 10 nights, he only made three towel animals including a sting ray, a monkey and an elephant. My son got some good laughs on those three nights. The first stop was Key West. Most of the shops were closed when we got off the ship at 9am. We strolled to the Ernest Hemingway house for a tour. My son was fascinated with the 63 cats on the premises. A quick walk brought us to the southernmost point in the United States where we decided to skip the line of tourists waiting to get their picture taken with the big red painted cement icon. Then off to the Blond Giraffe for their chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick. I'd heard others rave about it and it was very good, but it was still just pie on a stick - apparently the joy it gave others must have been lost on me. For lunch we stopped at my favorite place on the key - Crabby Bill's. Raw oysters and two-for-one Bass Ales keep me coming back to this place. It's right across the street from the more famous, and infinitely louder, Sloppy Joe's. Before heading back on the ship I made a quick stop at the Truman museum that was small but nice. One thing that bothered me about this stop was that we left before sunset. Seeing Key West without visiting Mallory square at sunset is a bit like climbing Mount Everest but deciding that once you get to base camp that you'd seen enough. Mallory square is the frosting on the cake for Key West. Cozumel was fantastic and the taxi service is great. Our first stop was Los Cinco Soles, a shop with silver, crafts, pottery, a little liquor store and the best vanilla you'll find on the island. In the back of the store is a restaurant called Pancho's Backyard. The day we went there were three people playing a Mexican xylophone in the restaurant. This place makes a burrito as big as your head and a wonderful margarita that's almost as big. If you like hot sauce, ask for some. It's great stuff and on your way out you can buy a bottle at Los Cinco Soles. My wife had lost the sapphire in a ring my son and I got her a few years ago so we went shopping for a replacement stone. The ship's shopping gal recommended we go to one of the Diamonds International stores. What a waste of time that was. Their prices were high and they didn't have any loose stones so they said they would take one out of an existing ring if we wanted one. We bolted and found a nice non-sanctioned jeweler just a few doors down who had a great price for a beautiful stone and they even mounted it for us. They even had a table set up where you could have serve it yourself tequila shots if you were so inclined to indulge in the salt, tequila, lime routine. After dumping our shopping loot off at the ship, we headed off to Paradise Beach which was a fabulous beach with a massive floating inflatable iceberg that my son thought was a great fun. We snorkeled and my wife got a back rub. The massage therapist wasn't really a massage therapist, but my wife didn't care. $20 bought her a 20 minute back rub and she was happy with that. As the family went back on the ship I wandered through the nearby duty free area and enjoyed $2 Dos Equis and chatted with some locals who gave me tips on where to find deals on my next trip to Cozumel. We didn't do any of the excursions in Belize but we did go on shore to visit their shops. One of the outdoor food and drink shops had a nice internet cafe so the family popped in there for a quick technology fix. We found a nice little liquor shop that had samples so we had to pick up a bottle of Belize's favorite rum, which had a unique taste and is not available on the shelves of your local liquor store. Friends who went on the snorkeling excursion shared with us that it was the best snorkeling they had ever done. Cococay is a little island that Royal Caribbean owns. It is fabulous. Fifteen years ago we went there on our honey moon and it has just gotten so much better. Snorkeling is good and the water is shallow. Lifeguards keep watch and the thousands of fish we saw entertained. We saw a stingray and I was amused that in addition to the plane they had sunk that was there during our honeymoon a large tall ship had apparently (and conveniently) been sunk there also. My son enjoyed swimming around the sunken cannons. It had a real pirate feel and RCI did a good job of making it look like it really had been there for a long time. Although much too short, Cococay was our favorite stop of the entire trip and nearly everyone we spoke to remarked how they would have liked to stay on Cococay for longer. We finished our exotic port visits in Freeport and found more shopping and some really good conch fritters and some uninspiring, but nicely cold, Bahamian beer. Our colorful taxi driver, a senior citizen calling himself General Grant, kept us laughing for the entire ride. The solarium is a great adults-only pool area. One day, in addition to their traditional pizza and hot dogs, they had a banana-jalapeno pizza on the menu. It didn't get many takers except for me, but it was great stuff. A year earlier we had been on the Rhapsody, a sister ship to the Grandeur and the Rhapsody did have a better solarium. Unlike the Rhapsody, which had stairs leading into the water, the Grandeur had straight edges down and the water was not circulating as much as the Rhapsody had been. Also, the statues on the middle-eastern themed Grandeur were of berka-clad women that struck me as being a fairly shallow, stereotypical and uninformed caricature of the complex Middle East. Adventure Ocean, Royal Caribbean's kids program, was great. My son had a ball. Their accommodating staff kept the kids busy at various times and my son made some good friends. Royal Caribbean obviously understands that if the child is happy and busy, the parents will be happy and relaxed. The Grandeur has some fun details. Pirate treasure is in the floor as you enter the casino. Tons of interesting art of nearly every type of medium decorates the walls. The library offers big leather chairs that you can get lost in as you read your morning news. Sailing out of Baltimore, we found that about 95% of the passengers were New Englanders who had driven to the ship. It reminded me of our cruise the year before out of Galveston, where 95% of the passengers were Texans. In short, there wasn't a great deal of regional or international diversity among our fellow passengers. As we were leaving, we noticed a couple of smiling faced but teary-eyed pre-teen girls hugging, knowing they would never see each other again. That image said it all. It was a wonderful trip and many friends were made. It was pure relaxation distilled into a 10-day vacation. This coming fall the Grandeur goes into dry dock for a face-lift. While we noticed a few wrinkles, the ship has been well cared for and we didn't experience any significant problems. Read Less
Sail Date May 2004
We love to cruise and this one was especially nice as we were taking my mother-in-law to celebrate her 80th birthday and went all out and stayed in a suite cabin. Very nice indeed! I won't see that again probably, but that's ... Read More
We love to cruise and this one was especially nice as we were taking my mother-in-law to celebrate her 80th birthday and went all out and stayed in a suite cabin. Very nice indeed! I won't see that again probably, but that's okay...I just love to cruise! Boarding went smoothly. Got to the terminal around 10:40am. Should have started through the process around 11am but the computers were down so we they got going around 11:15am. The cabin was ready when we got on board. Checked it out and met our room steward, Vincente, which did a wonderful job all week and very quick! Went to lunch in the Windjammer (buffet style - good selection). Luggage was brought to the room around 1:00. Unpacked, unpacked, and unpacked! Was raining when we went down the Mississippi River so we didn't see much. Thanks Mother Nature! First day at sea was nice, overcast but warm. Laid on the deck in a lounge chair rather than to go up on the pool deck and search for a chair! Usually all are taken as on all cruises by 6am by the chair hogs! (they save 6 or more chairs in the wee hours and don't appear till noon or so) Hit a storm or two out at sea which made it a little rocky at times! but it was nice sleeping (like being in your mothers arms again in a rocking chair). I get car sickness, so I don't take the chance of getting sea sick and take dramamine every day! Did the patch first cruise I went on and the patch ended up in my hair halfway thru the day, plus people can't label you "one of those patch people"!! Tendering went smoothly in Belize. They give you a number according to your excursion time, that way if you have an early excursion, you are one of the first off the ship! Saves fighting the lines. Worked well, I thought. Two of our excursions (Costa Maya and Cozumel) were cancelled which was disappointing to my daughter (and me). Snorkeling off a boat in Costa Maya was cancelled due to an over abundance of jelly fish and the current was not safe. Was grateful to the tour guides honesty, could have taken the money and not cared for our safety like I'm sure some places would have done! Next day in Cozumel we were to scuba dive and the current again was unsafe and ALL water sports were cancelled. However, later that day the water sports started up again but it was too late for us to do any of them cause we were leaving at 5:00pm. Can't depend on the weather....good ole Mother Nature! All our excursions were booked via the ship before we left home....I highly recommend booking online before the cruise! Full refunds were given to on board weekly account. I felt the dining room experience was superb! Sudeep (waiter) Kristina (assistant waiter) Maksood (bartender/waiter) and the headwaiter of which I didn't get his name were all wonderful and attentive to our every whim. All the entrees, appetizers, desserts that I had were tasty and had great presentation! The burgers and fries at the Solarium pool were great too! Entertainment on board was good and bingo (if anyone likes to play) had a final jackpot on the last day at sea) of $8,000.00 which was won by one person....lucky lady!! Casino was a nice size and never seemed over crowded. Some of the machines were hit on, not by me of course!! :( I will say....the other review comments on the foul order near the casino is true. I noticed this about 3 days into the cruise, it was tolerable though. Also, there was a problem with the toilets throughout the ship not flushing at times. However, if people would follow the rules they most likely have for their OWN homes (DON'T FLUSH FOREIGN OBJECTS DOWN THE TOILET) this would eliminate the problem. It's a shame when the Captain of the ship has to make an announcement on this matter. We all have a brain and/or common sense! All in all......the ship is beautiful, clean, nice size and was not overcrowded. I would cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas again in a heartbeat and I'm sure my mother-in-law has some great memories as do we! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
April is the time to cruise the Caribbean. Embarkation on Sat. at 11:30am to our room to drop off carry on luggage was 45 min. Excellent. Just roaming the ship on Sat. restaurants are open so you can eat. First day and all activities ... Read More
April is the time to cruise the Caribbean. Embarkation on Sat. at 11:30am to our room to drop off carry on luggage was 45 min. Excellent. Just roaming the ship on Sat. restaurants are open so you can eat. First day and all activities and mandatory meetings went well. Everything is spotlessly clean. Sun. at sea just lounging and the calypso band (Flare) by the pool was good. Also, music by in the Atrium most of the day. This was piano and violin. Very good. On sea days all food was easy to get to. No waiting in a variety of food stops on board. While at sea and if you want it noisy and jamming go to the pool decks. Sometimes we went to the back of deck 5, sat in lounge chairs and just enjoyed the total quiet. The only people on this deck are the walkers. This deck wraps around the entire ship but few people go here so, enjoy. And you can stand at the back of deck five and look up to deck 11 as people torture themselves on the rock climbing wall!Boogaly! Woogaly! Mon. spent the day in Cozumel. Took a taxi to Dzul-Ha. This is a local hangout with a little bar and grill, a nice deck hanging over the water. One step and your are snorkeling in you own aquarium. Total cost $21.00 2-way taxi. Then back to town for a little jewelry shopping. Tue. Grand Cayman. Tender boat was quick and easy even with so many people. Stingray City was canceled as all snorkeling due to winds. So we found an English Bakery, sat with the locals, ate pastries, drank coffee and had to fight somme baby chickens. They wanted pastries too. We walked down to Eden's Rock for some serious snorkeling. From here they will take you scuba diving from shore or you can pay for your locker and just go snorkeling off their pier. Instant aquarium, nothing like it. Then to a local restaurant for some local food. This place is clean enough you can eat any food and drink the water. Wed. Costa Maya. this is true culture shock! I truly enjoyed this place. Talk about barren. Someone built a pier in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful water and great snorkeling anywhere. Be sure to walk to Maharuel the town a few miles south. No need for the taxi. The beach road is sand and primitive. On the east side you have the surf crashing and on the west side you have jungle and very noisy tropical birds. A fantastic walk and many Kodak (digital) moments. thu. and Fri. at sea. The ship is big enough that you can be in the crowd or you can be totally alone, yes even with 2,000 people. There are many place to be on board. the library, atrium, observation deck (deck 5!) Sat. Back home for another culture shock. I have to wait on myself, cook my own food and make my own towel animals. First time cruisers might want to use the ship's shore excursions. But everywhere this cruise goes is a safe place so you can explore on your own. The cruise, food, activities, cabin, entertainment, staff get a thumbs up! Good value. I'm ready to go again. If I can help anyone please feel free to e-mail us. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We absolutely enjoyed our cruise on the Grandeur! The staff were most helpful and very delightful. Boarding in New Orleans was a breeze. We felt the ship looked great. She is certainly a gorgeous ship, and will most likely sail her again! ... Read More
We absolutely enjoyed our cruise on the Grandeur! The staff were most helpful and very delightful. Boarding in New Orleans was a breeze. We felt the ship looked great. She is certainly a gorgeous ship, and will most likely sail her again! I have to admit that we were lucky in Bingo and won the suite upgrade. Our initial room was on the 4th deck - can't remember room no.) It was a cabin for four. It was a little cramped for us - two moms and two 17 year-old football players! But it would have been just fine! Our cabin steward was wonderful and had suggestions for storing items and luggage! My friend and I truly enjoyed just about every bar on board. The bartenders were all great and entertaining! The shows were great too. We enjoyed all our meals in the dining room. We ate dinner there every night and everything was really good. Of course, there were a few things I didn't like, but wouldn't have anywhere! I found that lunch in the dining room was very good. The Windjammer cafe was also very good, but a different menu in dining room. We also like breakfast in the dining room. The boys used room service and enjoyed all they ordered (evidenced by empty plates!). We did one shore excursion through RCL - the Stingray City - which was great. Wish there weren't quite so many people, but was fun. We did jet skis in Costa Maya, which we bought once ashore. We really enjoyed Costa Maya - not the shops once you get off the ship, but after a 3-mile walk into "town" - didn't know it was that far - take a taxi - $3 one way! All the public areas on the ship were beautiful, and all the cabins we did see and visit were clean and well-kept. It was an experience I will remember - and one that will probably take me back! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
The ship was magnificent! Overall staff was very friendly, helpful and nice. Our cabin steward was not on top of things though. The first 2 days she did not turn down our beds or leave us the chocolates. One evening she did not clean our ... Read More
The ship was magnificent! Overall staff was very friendly, helpful and nice. Our cabin steward was not on top of things though. The first 2 days she did not turn down our beds or leave us the chocolates. One evening she did not clean our room or give us new towels. Then she straightened up as was pretty good the rest of the cruise. Food selection was okay not great. I've been on other RCCL cruises and I think the food is not as elegant or good. The activities were fantastic. Shore excursions were good but I felt there could have been more offered for those who don't want to go the beach, shop or do extreme sports. We stopped at Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya. The ruins of Costa Maya, Chachoban, were really great! I enjoy old ruins and thought they were a nice contrast to the openness of Tulum which is on the ocean. These were in the jungle area and quite different. The ruins at San Gervasio on Cozumel were also quite picturesque. We did the Island tour and StingRay City semi-submersible. It was very interesting. The Quest game was lots of fun, maybe because our team of 8 won first place! We will cherish our medals forever!!! My husband loved the fact that the Coasters were the main entertainers. He was in 50's heaven. Claire the Loyalty Ambassador was very helpful as we planned our next cruise in 2005. I would definitely go on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We're going on a cruise My husband and I work very hard like most two family income couples. We both have stressful jobs that require a lot of responsibility and time away from our family. We have two sons in college and most of our ... Read More
We're going on a cruise My husband and I work very hard like most two family income couples. We both have stressful jobs that require a lot of responsibility and time away from our family. We have two sons in college and most of our savings has gone into ensuring that they don't graduate with a massive college debt. With my oldest daughter graduating next year from high school, we thought that we all needed a treat this Spring. We thought of spending a week in Key West but after airfare and hotel, we were looking at a substantial amount of money. My daughter suggested a cruise and I began to research it. I obtained prices from several websites, but all the options and decisions soon began to jumble together in my mind, so I called a local travel agent who specializes in cruises. My husband wanted to see Grand Cayman, my daughter thought Jamaica was important and I needed to get back to work on Monday so we needed a Saturday to Saturday cruise. The TA returned my call that same day with two options: A Carnival cruise out of Port Canaveral and Royal Caribbean on the Grandeur of the Seas. We knew enough about Carnival to not want to take that option, so the Grandeur was the obvious choice. Jamaica wasn't to be on our itinerary, but all of our other criteria were met. We booked right away and called the girls from their bedrooms. "We're going on a cruise!" New Orleans We arrived a day early to New Orleans. Since we drove from Indiana straight through, we were pretty exhausted once we arrived around 8:00 AM. I had booked a room at the Wyndham French Quarter through Price Line for $59 and had called ahead to request an early check in. We only had to wait about 30 minutes before we were handed our room key. After a short nap, we were ready to see New Orleans. I'd been there before, but my husband and two daughters, 17 and 13, had not. Their impression was that it was dirty and pretty much overrated but were none-the-less happy to say that they'd been there. Embarkment We arrived at the Port of New Orleans at 10:00 AM. I'd heard (and read) that there was limited parking so we wanted to avoid finding another lot and dragging our eight suitcases. They are two small side-by-side lots, one for each cruise line that they service. The Royal Caribbean lot was still full since the Grandeur had only arrived two hours previous, so we were told to wait down the road until it was 90% empty. We waited in a line of about 15 other vehicles for only 30 minutes and then were able to park. We were told by the porter that we would not be able to get on the ship until noon. After presenting our birth certificates and ID's (I had a passport and it was definitely the easiest), we proceeded through security which only took minutes. We then proceeded through jet ways and various corridors thinking the eventually we would be taken to a waiting area before we were allowed to board the ship at noon. To our surprise we were taken right to the ship at 11:05 AM. First Impressions Our first impression of the ship was that she is indeed a grand lady. The Centrum was beautiful with its seven stories of glass and polished brass. We dropped our carry ons in our cabin and proceeded to the pool deck on deck nine. It was a bit early for lunch so we were glad that we had thought to wear our swimming suits under our clothes. My daughters and I did, that is. My husband was sorry that we hadn't listened to us as it would be hours before our luggage arrived. The temperature was around 72 degrees and coming from the cold and snowy Midwest, it felt like heaven. We had requested Main Seating for the dining room and noticed at embarkment when we received our Sea Pass cards, permanent marker had crossed off Main and indicated that we had been switched to second seating. We are definitely not night people and didn't feel that having dinner at 8:30 was for us, so I went to the dining room to inquire as to why we were switched. The first person I saw was the maitre' d, who showed me the waiting list for Main Seating, on which we were the first cabin listed. My husband started to stress over not having his bathing suit and not getting our first choice of dinner arrangements so it was Mom to the rescue. They were unloading luggage on our floor and I saw ours stacked in a corner. I asked the attendant if I could take our luggage and she said it was no problem. Before I had our clothes put away, there was a knock on the door and an envelope left for us from the maitre' d. It seems that a spot had opened up for us in Main and all was well again. We found the Windjammer Buffet quickly right there on the pool deck and had a surprisingly good lunch. It is, of course, buffet food so we didn't have great expectations, but everything was hot and plentiful. My daughter and I had been exercising and watching our food intake in preparation for this cruise. We both decided that we would enjoy our vacation and not stress over every little bite of food as we had for the past six months. I had my first of many desserts there in the Windjammer and it tasted so good! Our Cabin Since our cruise was during a prime Spring Break week, our cabin selection was limited. Our TA recommended a lower deck towards the center of the ship and cabin 3600 became our little home-away from home for seven days, little being the optimal word here. We expected it to be small and weren't disappointed. With two teenage daughters and a combined 25+ pairs of shoes, we weren't certain how it would all fit, but somehow it did. Sort of. My 13 year old took the four small drawers of the twin night stands for her clothes. The 17 year old took three drawers of the desk and the remainder of her 20 shirts was stored in a suitcase under a twin bed that she pulled in and out as needed. My husband and I shared the three 18" dresser drawers and the three very small drawers hidden in the closet. The closet had about three feet of full length hanging space and another three feet of upper and lower rods. Our hanging clothes seemed to fit just fine, and believe me there was a lot of it! Reading message boards on several websites before we sailed, I had purchased several of the suggested items that seemed to be essential for any cruise and was really glad that I did. The over the door hanging shoe organizer turned out to be a real life saver for small items like body lotion, chap stick, disposable razors, etc. The shower (small but very comfortable) had four shelves for shampoo and bar soap. The medicine cabinet had plenty of space for cologne, hand cream, tooth brushes and tooth paste. The long drawer in the desk served as our make-up storage. All in all, everything found a home and we were very comfortable in our cabin, despite that fact that we had over packed. The only negative thing about our cabin was that the girls slept in pull-down berths that were stored up in the ceiling. We requested that the lower beds be pulled together into a queen bed, but our cabin steward said that this would make his job much more difficult in making up the upper berths. My husband and I haven't slept in twin beds since we were living with our parents. The first couple of nights seemed awkward, but days filled with snorkeling and activities had us falling into bed at night and after a few days we didn't seem to notice overmuch. The Dining Room Our cabin was a comedy act around 5:00 each evening. Two girls taking showers, blowing dry their hair and applying make up within a 156 square feet while trying to avoid Dad, was comical! Once they both had a hair drying going and our circuit breaker filled off and we had to call maintenance to get us going again. We settled into a routine eventually and ended up enjoying our ritual each evening. Table 63 was located in the upper floor of the dining room and situated next to a window. Unfortunately it was tucked back in a corner also and right next to the galley entrance. Our first instinct was to ask for another table, but since we were lucky to have Main Seating, we decided to give it a try. We sat with a nice couple from Minnesota. They had two charming children aged 8 and 11. I was hoping for a little older children more the age of our own, but again this turned out to be just fine! We really enjoyed getting to know our new friends and soon it was like we'd know each other for years. Here's where I talk about our waiter and assistant waiter and tears are forming just thinking about them. Yogesh Parab (he told us to call him Yogi) from India was our waiter. His little mannerisms became instantly endearing to all of us. From, "Now for yum yum time" to announce the dessert selections to knowing what we each preferred to drink before we even arrived, Yogi was a true pleasure. The one draw back to the early seating, we discovered, was that we weren't that hungry after the huge lunches at the Windjammer or the late lunches fit into the shore excursions. We never missed a dinner though, because that would mean missing Yogi. Miothan, from Nicaragua, was our assistant waiter and also a pleasure to be around. He filled our water constantly and kept our bread plates full. My daughter loved the variety of breads each night and Miothan also knew when she was ready for another roll or slice. One night I asked Miothan how long he had been in the cruise industry and he told me that he was in his forth year. He said that he worked six months and then took a six week break. I mistakenly suggested that he must not have a family and the tears in his eyes assured me that indeed he did have a family and missed them terribly. I found a new admiration for these servers after that as I tried to imaging being away from my family for such extended periods of time. Anthony (Tony) originally from Jamaica and transplanted to Miami, was our Head Waiter. Some of the discussion boards that I read suggested that many times you don't see your Head Waiter until tip night. This couldn't have been further from the truth on the Grandeur. Tony was there every night ensuring our satisfaction, flaming Bananas Foster tableside or marching around the dining room during one of the many entertaining numbers the wait staff performed. Tipping Tony was supposed to be optional, but we found after a few days that it really wasn't. Tony did as much to ensure our dining pleasure as anyone. On the last night, Tony told us that he would be leaving the ship the following day for shore leave and expressed how excited he was to see his two children. We think of you often Tony and hope your are enjoying your much deserved rest! Even our bar attendant, Ian, was prompt and congenial. My daughters ordered virgin strawberry daiquiris each night and soon our young tablemates followed suit. Ian brought them each night with a smile. Day at Sea Our first full day on the ship was spent at sea. Although we looked forward to our planned excursions, we really treasured our days at sea, three of them in total. After an early breakfast in the Windjammer, we hunted up four lounge chairs by the pool. This was a little disappointing. The ship's policy was that saving pool chairs by placing a towel on them and not returning for hours was prohibited. Nonetheless, each morning at 9:00 we had to search for chairs together and more times than not ended up on an upper deck from the pool. One morning at 9:00, there were about 15 people by the pool and every other 200 chairs had a towel on them. It made it tough on us who choose to follow the rules. The Compus was dutifully delivered to our room each night and I would lay in bed with a highlighter pen marking the things that I really wanted to do the next day. The girls did the same with their respective teen activities. By the third day, I was tired of watching the clock to make sure I didn't miss a class that I'd decided to take, so I stopped planning so much. I was, after all, on vacation. Let me just tell you that Bingo is outrageously expensive. For $35 you get six cards to play five games. To get a three-card pack will cost you $25. The fifth game each day was the "jack pot" game. To get the jackpot, you needed to cover your entire card within the allotted amount of numbers called. In short, it was nearly impossible to win this jackpot until the last day of Bingo. Some lucky lady won over $9000 on our ship, but the odds were not good seeing as probably 300 people were playing. In total, I spent $120 playing Bingo and I can think of many things that I'd rather spend that money on now! Cozumel I had taken the advise of some well intending poster on a discussion board and planned our Cozumel excursion independent of the cruise line. In this instance, it worked out okay. All those taking our Clear Kayak and Snorkeling tour were gathered in an area on the dock in Cozumel and taken by taxi to the reef, which was part of the nature preserve. Our group instructor, Oscar, was funny as he taught us all how to snorkel and use our kayaks. We kayaked first over some beautiful coral reefs but didn't see many fish. The sun was hot though and the day clear, so we all enjoyed the experience as Oscar pointed out underwater caves and sea urchins. Next, we donned our snorkeling gear and made our way into the ocean. The current was very strong and my husband had to assist our youngest so he wore himself out quickly. Our oldest daughter, much to our surprise, took to the fins quickly and was constantly at the front of the group right behind Oscar. The snorkeling was wonderful as we saw an abundance of colorful fish and coral. After the snorkeling, each visitor was allowed two free drinks from the cabana. My husband decided on Margaritas and both girls got virgin daiquiris. It was later when we realized that waiter had left out the "virgin" part of my oldest daughter's drink. After she lapsed into a fit of the giggles and saying "I thought it tasted a little funny," we figured it out. She didn't mind, of course, and there was nothing we could do about it at that point, so we just gave her the "drinking before you are 21 lecture" and went on from there. On the return trip to the pier, we paid our taxi driver an extra $6 to take us to the far end of the shopping area, where we knew we would find Ponchos Backyard. This quaint authentic Mexican restaurant served one of our favorite lunches of the trip. My husband's mahi mahi burritos were out of this world. It was well worth the trip and we would go there again should we ever be in Cozumel. After lunch, we did a little shopping. I had seen several pieces of Tanzanite jewelry on the ship and fell in love with the beautiful deep purple color. Thanks to our shopping guide, Tito, and the shopping class that I took on the ship, I knew that Tanzanite came from Tanzania, Africa and there is only one mine existing that producing this gem. Since it's endangered, buying a piece of Tanzanite is a real investment. I had received several coupons from this shopping class and spotted a 1 carat pair of Tanzanite stud earrings from Diamonds International. My husband, the wonderful man that he is, dickered with the sales lady and purchased the earrings for me. We paid $190 for the pair and felt that we made a wise purchase. During lunch, my husband looked at his watch and told us it was 1:30. We didn't have to be to the boat until 3:30, so we thought we were doing fine on time. After we bought the earrings, I asked him again what time it was and again he said it was 1:30. We realized that he had pushed the alarm button and it was actually 3:30 and we were 3 miles from the ship! We tipped the taxi drive to step on it and we arrived back at the pier in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the ship was quite a ways from where the taxi let us off so we ran the rest of the way. I was very relieved to find a long line waiting to board the Grandeur. We were 20 minutes late and I was already trying to figure out how we were going to get to Grand Cayman! Grand Cayman Before our cruise, we sat down as a family and voted on the excursion that we would take in Grand Cayman. My choice was to go swimming with the Rays in Sting Ray City, but alas, I was outvoted by the more adventuresome members of my family. They decided on the Jungle Runner Snorkel Tour. In this excursion, two-man boats were taken through the mangrove jungle and across the bay to a floating snorkeling platform where beautiful snorkeling would then be found! Let me tell you what really happened! We tendered into Georgetown, Grand Cayman as our designated time of 9:45 AM. Our tour was to begin at 11:15 AM and last 2 ½ hours. I had to admit, I was excited about the Mangroves and took my new digital camera in preparation of seeing multi-colored birds and hopefully other types of wildlife. There are two pier in Georgetown that the ships use to tender. We were taken to the East pier where we were held in a small group until our tour operator guide could meet us. We were told that he was at the other pier gathering his guests. At around 11:00 he finally made his way to our location and told us that the bus was full from the other pier and that we would have to wait until it returned in about 30 to 45 minutes. As no one else seemed to think this was a problem, I spoke up and expressed my displeasure that we were wasting our limited time on the island. He told us to shop at the nearby stores and return in 30 minutes. We walked across the street and did have time to purchase a few mementos, but hurried back to our meeting area. Our guide returned to tell us that we had to wait until the last group returned on the boats since they didn't have enough boats for all of us. In exchange for our wait, we were going to be taken to the Run Cake Factory of a tour. One couple asked for their money back and promptly left the tour, but the four of us, plus two other couples stayed. We told him that we were not interested in the Rum Cake Factory tour and were finally boarded onto a bus and taken to our excursion site. One of the other couples for from another RCI ship (I think it was the Splendor) that left GC at 3:30. The last tender for the Grandeur was at 4:45. We felt that we had plenty of time to a little bit of shopping before the tendered out to the ship. Once we arrived at the excursion location called Rum Pointe, we received our snorkeling gear and declined instruction since we had just learned the day before. We were then asked to sign a document that stated that we would pay $500 in the event that we tipped our little boat over and that we would obey the rules. I made sure that my oldest daughter understood what she was signing as she would be driving the boat that we shared. We were then taken to our cute little two-man boats and helped aboard. The short story to this adventure is that our boats were unfortunately in poor working condition and through a series of break-downs and a trip to the marina for oil, we never made it to the mangroves. We only had 20 minutes to snorkel in murky, unremarkable waters. In an attempt to make up some lost time, we were taken over bone-jarring three foot waves in the middle of the Bay. The couple from the Splendor had left two young children on the ship and at 4:30 PM, we weren't sure if they had held the ship for them or not since they were an hour late for the last tender. Eventually we did discover that they had held the ship since they had booked the excursion through RCI. We had no time for shopping but did make our last tender. Still, we made the best of our excursion and tried not to stress too much over what hadn't happened and were just thankful that we were together to experience this new adventure. It will be one of those things that we look back on and probably remember most about our cruise. My daughter was in heaven driving the boat (when it worked) and at one point screamed at the top of her voice, "this is the best day of my life!" Let me tell you, it doesn't get better than that for a parent. Costa Maya We decided not to plan an excursion for this new port. Our other two ports of call had been full of exercise and clock-watching and we wanted a time to rest without worrying about missing the ship. Although we couldn't find a great deal of information about Costa Maya, we were really surprised by what we found. Costa Maya itself is a little village that has sprung up in an attempt to compete with the shopping trade of its Cozumel and Cancun neighbors. A market is situated in the middle of the town square where local crafts can be purchased such as Mexican blankets, pottery and vanilla. On the outer edge of the square, more reputable merchants can be found such as the ever present Diamonds International. I found haggling a fun experience. I bought two marble chess sets for my sons for $25 each when they originally asked for $125 each. The prices are very high, so if you feel timid about haggling over the price, you might want to stay away from the market. We paid $3 each to take a taxi into the village of Majahaul (pronounced ma ha wall), and authentic little fishing village. Dirt streets and more local merchants hawking their wares and a few make-shift lean tos that served as bars on the beach was about all that we found here. Some may have liked this atmosphere, but it only served to remind us how truly lucky we are to live where we do. I couldn't have missed this part of the trip without any regrets. Back in Costa Maya, we bought an over priced lunch ($78 for four of us eating tacos and chips), my husband and daughters had fun swimming in the salt water pool. Our ship was originally scheduled to depart Costa Maya at 1:00 AM but we were told this day that we needed to be on board by 6:00 for a 7:00 departure. This was fine with us since we didn't want to miss our 6:00 dinner on board, less we miss our favorite waiter. We found out later that we left early to miss a bad storm and were happy that we did. That night the seas were a little high, but snug in our little cabin's twin beds, we didn't notice a thing and slept like babies. Two Days At Sea Thursday and Friday were spent at sea relaxing and building on our suntans. We had purchased several photos so far and it was fun to see the progression of our tanned skin. By the second formal night (Thursday) the girls looked like tanned beauties despite the use of SPF 50 all week. I entered the Slot Machine Tournament and had a ton of fun even though I didn't make it out of the first round. It was $20 well spent. We watched the Travis Knight magic show and it was wonderful. We didn't see any of the other music and dancing shows in the Palladium Theatre. That's just not us. Others said it was fantastic and I'm sure it was. Our cruise director, Tom Canosa, and staff were all great. They really worked hard all week! The Love and Marriage game was hysterical! Like every other evening during the cruise, my husband and I spend an hour or so in the casino after dinner while the girls participated in planned activities with their new friends. The slots were good to me at first and became increasingly fickle as the trip went on. My husband consistently came out ahead in Blackjack. It was a good thing that he was able to support my gambling habit or we would have come back entirely broke. Tip Night To add your tips to you Sea Pass card or not? We debated about this for days. It is more personal to hand them an envelope with cash than it is to hand them an envelope with vouchers in it that say you tipped the recommended amount. In the end, we did both. We added the four vouchers to each envelope as well as extra cash for jobs well done! It was a bittersweet night as we said our good-byes to our new tablemate friends, Yogi, Miothan and Tony. We had brought a few bottles of wine with us from our favorite winery in Michigan. Yogi seemed to think that Napa Valley was the only wineries that grew grapes worthy of great wine, so he found our little Michigan wines a novelty. On this last night we presented him with a bottle of Demi Red along with his tip envelope and have his picture to remember the honored look on his face. The girls actually cried when we left the dining room after saying good bye and getting pictures with everyone. It gave my husband and I a warm feeling to know that we had given them something so special that they would always remember. Conclusion We've been home for two days and the memories are still very real and fresh. Going back to work and school has been difficult as we only wish that we were back on the Grandeur. Today, we would be in Grand Cayman, tomorrow, Costa Maya. The only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that we need to work in order to save up to do it again! It ended up being an expensive vacation, but one that we will never regret. In conclusion, I'd like to address a few falsehoods that have been portrayed on several of the cruise discussion boards for all of those first-time cruisers out there. Maybe after 20 cruises, we will also become a little jaded to the cruise industry, but right now I think it's important to set the record straight as not to cause "newbies" any concern. The Quality of the Food Our ship was full to capacity which means that over 6500 meals were served each day. In the Windjammer, we found buffet style food which is designed to feed the masses in an efficient way. It isn't gourmet food and not intended to be. It's good, satisfying food of every possible type that you can think of; soup, salad, fresh fruit, hot entrees and lots of desserts. The dining room served very good to excellent food. Their appetizers were extremely tasty. Most nights I ordered two appetizers, one in place of a salad, for fear of missing something extraordinary. All the soups were very good. The entrees were always well prepared and tastefully displayed. Yes, the Ranch Steak is tough. I knew it would be so I didn't order it but my daughter did several times. It was not thin as many of the boards claim, but about 1" thick. She didn't complain and believe me, she's the pickiest eater that you will ever find. If your waiter thinks you are unhappy with a selection, he'll offer to bring you something different. Take him up on it! The Service I met a lady by the pool one day and we she told me that she was on her 25 cruise. I asked what her favorite cruise line was as she said that she tried them all. She said that she liked RCI best because they offered the best service. After just one cruise, I'm forced to agree with her. Besides a rude female server at one breakfast in the dining room that rolled her eyes every time we asked her for something, the service was first-rate all the way. You can really appreciate that when you think that these people don't get a day off for six months. My kudos to RCI for their efforts in this area and this is what will keep us coming back. All the Extra Fees Your vacation will be as expensive as you want it to be. If you stay away from the Spa and Casino, you will save a ton. You can have a wonderful time sticking to the "inclusive" items like meals, entertainment and going on shore excursion at your leisure. If you accept this going into your vacation you won't be disappointed. You can go to Guest Services at any time to get a total of your charges so far. We set a budget for each of the girls as far as beverages and Internet usage. Neither of them exceeded their budget. Smuggling Alcohol As I said before, we did take several bottles of wine and did pay a $12 corkage fee to have them with dinner. The least expensive wine on the wine list was over $20, so we felt we came out ahead. Besides, we have certain wines that we like. This is perfectly acceptable by RCI and there is no need to "smuggle" wine. Just pack it and take it! Other alcohol is another story. There are signs posted that drinking your own alcohol in any public place is prohibited. There are no longer drink packages to purchase, so your other option is to buy your drinks from the bar or to smuggle it aboard. I have to confess that we took a zip lock baggie filled with travel-sized assorted alcohol. My husband used Sprites from our cabin to make himself a little cocktail before dinner. He also bought at least one cocktail at every dinner. I'm not sure that we would take our own again. I felt guilty all week that we shouldn't have done it and in the end, he had a large liquor tab anyways. Just set a budget and if you can't afford to drink it, don't. If you can, just enjoy. You're on vacation. Booking Excursions Through the Cruise Line I hope that you can see from our experiences on Cozumel and Grand Cayman that it is always best to book your cruise through the cruise line (and they're not paying me to say that). I figure that we spend a total of $40 more to book through RCI our little Jungle(but there was no jungle) Runner (didn't work most of the time) excursion. It would have cost us over $1000 to fly to Costa Maya to meet the ship had we missed it. Besides, RCI took care of us on that whole ordeal. You're not only paying for the excursion, you're paying from the customer service as well. And finally to Royal Caribbean International, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the vacation of a lifetime. You will definitely see us again very soon. We're already planning a cruise next winter to include both of our sons. I think we'll need a suite! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
This cruise was a gift to my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday and we wanted it to be full of great memories so we went first class all the way by booking a suite, which I will probably never get the chance to do again!! It was ... Read More
This cruise was a gift to my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday and we wanted it to be full of great memories so we went first class all the way by booking a suite, which I will probably never get the chance to do again!! It was great....really great! Our room steward (Vincente) was wonderful and kept the room very clean. The first day he came and introduced himself and asked if there was any certain demands we would like for the week. We asked for extra towels and he made sure to supply them both morning and evening when he made up or room. The embarkment went smoothly. We arrived at the dock around 10:40am and the registration should have started around 11am but there was a problem with the computers so they started loading us around 11:20 or so. It went fairly quick and our room was ready when we got on ship. Our luggage was delivered around 1:00pm. The dining room service we had was especially nice. Sudeep (waiter) and Kristina (asst. waiter) were exceptional!!! Very attentive and friendly. Even the head waiter (his name I never got) was amazing. Usually, at least in my experience, you never see the head waiter till the last night for the envelopes with the tips!! Not this one, he came by our table EVERY night and even helped cut a steak for my daughter and deshelled my shrimp scampi! How's that for service?!! He asked about our days activities and everything. Even the bar/waiter (Maksood) was great. Brought my husbands "bud" every night without asking, poured them and had the refills there before he even turned to ask for another! The windjammer had a great choice of food and plenty of it. The scrambled eggs were a little runny for me but the fruit and danish and all were good. The weather was somewhat rough the first two nights (hit some storms) and some of our excursions were cancelled due to the current and an abundance of jelly fish but that's not the ship's fault. You can't control mother nature!! The time at ports were sunny and in the high 80's, better than in the 40's back home in Pennsylvania!! Entertainment was good on board (what we saw) and the bingo had a jackpot of $8000 the last day which was won by ONE very lucky women!! All in all, we were very satisfied with the ship and our journey was very much enjoyed by all. My daughter (16) didn't attend the kids stuff so I can't comment on their activities. I will say, as stated in some other reviews....there is an odor by the casino which I noticed around the third day or so. It's tolerable though! Speaking of the casino....didn't hit any big jackpots but some people were lucky from the way they were screaming!! The toilets throughout the ship had trouble flushing some times. The captain had to do an announcement to ask people not to flush any foreign objects down them.....what's wrong with people? Do they flush diapers, tampons, plastic utensils, etc down their toilets at home? daaaaa That's about it.....fond memories. Can't wait till I can cruise again....I'm bitten by the bug.....I would do the Grandeur again, it's a nice size ship! Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
A wonderful cruise! The ship is very nice, with very tasteful decor. Everything was functioning as it should, except for one very heavily-used bathroom where the toilets kept clogging--an understandable problem. Our cabin steward went out ... Read More
A wonderful cruise! The ship is very nice, with very tasteful decor. Everything was functioning as it should, except for one very heavily-used bathroom where the toilets kept clogging--an understandable problem. Our cabin steward went out of her way to make us comfortable, and she was always handy when we needed her or had a question. She came to us the first afternoon and introduced herself and explained a few things and answered a few questions. The dining room service was impeccable, and the food was average. The beef dishes were sometimes tough, and sometimes not cooked to our specifications. As for informal dining, I've had better burgers on other ships, and the pizza left much to be desired. But the fries were super! The Windjammer, the informal dining room, was very well organized, and flowed smoothly. I was disappointed that the drinks (like lemonade) came in such small cups, as I wanted to take one with me up on deck by the pool, but it would have been empty by the time I got there. There is an all-adult swimming pool and two hot tubs--a definite plus when I'm traveling without kids! There is a definite shortage of lounge chairs, though, and quite a few people were just sitting or laying on the floor. The shows were all great, but the individual entertainers were better than the shows by the staff singers and dancers. There was a comedian, a juggler, and Beatlemania Live, which was particularly great. They do have a few good singers on staff too, though; the shows just weren't impressionable. The Palladium theatre isn't quite big enough for everyone, either--there were sometimes people standing for the shows. The cruise director is good, although I noticed that he was off-color a lot, even when there were kids around. The gameshow-type games were really fun, as were the deck parties. All the ports were very busy when we were there--there were seven other ships in port at the same time in Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and two other large ships in port in Costa Maya, which doesn't have a lot of room in the new development at the pier. We left Costa Maya at 8 pm, when the online itinerary said we would be leaving at midnight (or 12:00 am the next day--many people thought we were going to be there for two days because they didn't look closely enough at the time). Leaving early really wasn't a problem, since there wasn't anything to do at night there except eat and drink. We did the dune buggy tour in Costa Maya--superb! In Grand Cayman we took the Seven-Mile beach tour, and we were very disappointed, as the area we were confined to was extremely crowded. Embarking and disembarking were the smoothest we've had yet!  Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
If you have never been on a cruise, but are trying to decide....read on ! My wife and I have a business which takes up 120% of our time and for the first time in 5 years we had the chance to take a week and get away. We do a LOT of travel, ... Read More
If you have never been on a cruise, but are trying to decide....read on ! My wife and I have a business which takes up 120% of our time and for the first time in 5 years we had the chance to take a week and get away. We do a LOT of travel, but it is usually pack, plane, hotel, plane and home... lots of packing and unpacking and traveling without actually seeing anything. We have a number of friends who have been on quite a few cruises and we  really - I mean REALLY - didn't understand why they went back time and time again. Well, we decided to take the plunge and called Costco (of all people) to arrange a 7 night cruise. Personally, I didn't care where, as long as my cell phone was OFF. After a night on the town in New Orleans (ouch my head!) we made for the ship. Embarkation was a breeze and it didn't take long for us to start relaxing. Everyone was out to have fun and you could see the stress lifting from people as they boarded. Very quickly we realized that there was probably no one on the ship who knew us and we would likely never meet anyone again, so the inhibitions started to fall. (I can now line dance with the best of them...I think). I splurged and purchased the "romance package" and room decoration (Bon Voyage streamers & Balloons etc... which stayed for the entire cruise) My wife didn't know I got this and it got me some serious brownie points and made the cabin so pleasant. As part of the Costco package were upgraded to a Balcony cabin at no extra charge - we were so spoiled - I don't expect we will have anything less on future cruises. My wife was amazed at seeing flying fish from the balcony each day and we loved being able to leave the sliding door open and smell the fresh ocean air. It was so wonderful to wake up in the morning and not have to go anywhere, in fact it was like going to sleep in your hotel room and waking up in another country. Didn't have to pack to catch a cab, get on a plane or answer a cell phone. We had heard the rumors of people putting on weight, so we decided to go on a diet - when we got back... however, we found that we were pretty active just walking up and down the ship, exploring different things to do. I think I lost a couple of pounds just walking between the numerous bars. At the end of the cruise, we hadn't gained or lost an ounce, and we're definitely not fitness oriented by any stretch of the imagination. The food was excellent with the waiters and staff making yet another highlight of the trip (Thanks Niel and Alvidas). We were absolutely treated like royalty, right down to the finest detail. Little things like your pre-dinner drink waiting for you at the table, just as you ordered it the night before (3 olives instead of 2, or without the lemon). No detail was too small and I was extremely impressed that we felt like we had personal service, even though there were quite a few people on board. We never felt crowded. I think the size of the ship was just right. We were able to run into people we recognized and had fun with several times, but not too many times - just right! My wife booked all the excursions, one for each port (3). Belize - Shark Ray alley snorkeling. I was a serious scuba diver and snorkeler in my youth through to only 10 years ago so it was a thrill to play with the stingrays. We also took a dune buggy ride (convoy) at Costa Maya, down through a fishing village and lunch on a secluded beach, where our guides picked coconuts from the trees and opened them for us right on the beach. There are just too many great memories, but if you have never cruised before and are wondering if it is as good as you might think - DO IT - you will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
I was a first time cruiser, so I was expecting alot. I was disappointed in some areas but very happy in other areas. To start, the food in The Gatsby was wonderful. Presentation was good, the food was hot when it was suppose to be, cold ... Read More
I was a first time cruiser, so I was expecting alot. I was disappointed in some areas but very happy in other areas. To start, the food in The Gatsby was wonderful. Presentation was good, the food was hot when it was suppose to be, cold when it was suppose to be and the taste was very good. Our waiter served as courteously and professionally. Our assistant waiter had the biggest brightest smile on her face everytime we saw her. Whether it was in The Gatsby or at the Windjammer for breakfast or lunch. The food in the Solarium (pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs) to me tasted kind of like hospital food. Very bland. We ate there only once. The food in the Windjammer was very good. We ate breakfast there mostly and lunch a couple of times. Very relaxed and could watch the ship pull into port as you ate. The room steward we had was ok. He was not great but he kept the room clean. Twice (that I know of we came back to our room and found our room door open with nobody around) I thought that was very careless and thoughtless of our belongings and the cruise company heard about it. Also, we had purchased the Grand Romance package and did not get the pre dinner canapes or the after dinner sweets. The cruise company was also told about this. I hope they compensate me someway. As I said earlier I was disappointed in some areas but I found cruising is what I and my husband like. I am going cruising again next year and taking my mom. I think I will look into another Cruise line to see how their service is. This was my husband's and I 25th anniversary and was a little disappointed we did not get everything we paid for. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
We had a great time aboard. The ship was clean and the service was great. The food was average, but the table servers were very personable. We had wonderful table partners and made good friends. The Grandeur's stage shows were great ... Read More
We had a great time aboard. The ship was clean and the service was great. The food was average, but the table servers were very personable. We had wonderful table partners and made good friends. The Grandeur's stage shows were great and the after hours entertainment were also a lot of fun. We enjoyed all the ports of call, even though we were unable to tender at Grand Cayman. Costa Maya has a lot to offer and there were good tour deals off the ship. We had an excellent tour guide and it was 4 couples per guide, instead of a 60 passenger bus tour. Snorkeling there was beautiful and the area was a fun place to stop. Cozumel has a lot to offer everyone and even though we spent the day on our own, a lot of people raved about the dolphin tour. We have snorkeled before on the island and had a great time with the catamaran tour. Leaving from New Orleans gave us a great night in the quarters and a leisurely pace to board early. We are planning to go back on this same cruise, because so far it has been one of our favorite. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Finally getting a chance to write a review of the Grandeur! Thanks to all on the board that have provided priceless information...here is my opportunity to contribute. It's LONG, so be forewarned! Grandeur of the Seas, January 31 - ... Read More
Finally getting a chance to write a review of the Grandeur! Thanks to all on the board that have provided priceless information...here is my opportunity to contribute. It's LONG, so be forewarned! Grandeur of the Seas, January 31 - February 7, 2004 Itinerary - New Orleans, cruising the Mississippi, day at sea, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, day at sea, New Orleans Arrived at New Orleans cruise terminal at about 1:00, as we had a B Suite and thus had priority boarding, we were through security and in our cabin by 1:15. Regular boarding seemed to be flowing smoothly. We parked literally next to the ship - There is terminal parking at the dock and we parked in the spot next to the gate to access the terminal. That in itself was amazing. If you want to park in this lot, I advise getting there EARLY (11:30?) as we got the 2nd to last spot. The port employees were more friendly this time than last, thank goodness. We went up to our room and the television was on an information channel. The picnic/wine basket I ordered for Dear Husband was waiting. The room was beautiful and very spacious! This was our first time in a B suite (cabin 8008) and were very impressed! The bathroom was big enough for both of us, the tub was of nice size, and the dual vanities were very functional. There is tons of storage in this room; more than enough for a family of 4. We actually had unused drawer and cabinet space. In the bathroom there are 2 medicine cabinets on either side that are deep and functional, 3 or 4 drawers and 2 cabinets. The closet area (I called it the kitchen as that's what it reminded me of) had three closets. The first closet held longish items and had two drawers. The second closet also held longish items and had two shelves, one which was occupied with life vests. The third closet had two closet rods (shirts and pants). My only gripe about the closets were that the closets that held long items were not long enough for me to hang my formal gowns without dragging. I had to fold the tops down and clip them. There were plenty of hangers although we always bring several of our own. Also in the closet area is a full length mirror and a counter of sorts that encloses the refrigerator (which got plenty cold, especially on the top shelf) and (I believe) 8 drawers - 2 shallow, 6 deep. The refrigerator had movable shelves and door storage and could hold wine/soda/water/snacks easily. The sitting area of the cabin had a generous L-shaped sleeper sofa with tons of pillows, a glass coffee table, a chair and a tv/vcr/tv stand. You could get tapes from the cabin attendant, we just left her a note and the movie appeared! The sleeping area - 2 standard beds with duvets on top and blankets on top of that. They were surprisingly comfortable. There were also 2 night stands with 2 drawers, one with a phone on it. We had problems with our phone constantly and they had to keep "resetting" the system. We missed 5 wake up calls - Note: bring your own alarm (we did), or buy one in the boutique shop for $10. Next to the bed was a vanity area. Approximately 3 drawers here. The mirror opened to MORE storage. There was also a cabinet with 2 shelves and the hairdryer and safe in it (need credit card to operate - I much prefer the ships that have gone to using the seapass to open!) The mirror had lights around it, although you had to turn on the main cabin lights (which lit EVERY light in the cabin) to use it). There was also a lit makeup mirror here. Below the cabinet was a cd player - again you could get cds from your cabin attendant. A couple of nice things in the cabin - mood lighting - you had several options for lighting/dimming - nice touch! The whole cabin had floor to ceiling windows - BRING clothespins to hold shut if you like it dark in the morning. We pulled them shut and put a pillow on the ground to hold them in place! There is also a curtain separating the sleeping area from the sitting area. I always had my half closed while Dear Husband watched tv before bed. The tv is a bit far away from the bed, but this did not bother me. Our cabin attendant, Leonora, was marvelous! She assisted with everything we needed or wanted and was very prompt! Our cabin was in a bit of disrepair, but everything we told her about that needed fixing was handled immediately. She is to return home this Saturday for 2 months, but will be returning to the Grandeur. Thank you, Leonora, for making our vacation EXTRA special! The first day - we spent the day touring the ship - we have been on both the Splendour and the Rhapsody, so the ship was quite familiar to us. We booked our hot stone massages for Sunday. We were able to leave the ship after the life boat drill as we were not sailing until 2am, but the weather was cool and rainy so we opted to stay aboard. Dining room - we ate here all but one night (Costa Maya). We were seated at a table for 6 (#005). Our head waiter and assistant waiter were darling! Our assistant waiter was Mara. We never wanted for bread and she was always very helpful. She remembered my drink preferences after the first night, though she was not as attentive to the other couples, in my opinion; they had to ask for their iced tea and their wine, as mine appeared nightly. I don't remember our waiter's name, but he was efficient. I have had better and worse. No complaints at all with the dining room service. We never met our Maitre'D. Dining room food.....ah, the food. After sailing with RCI on 2 previous cruises it was hard to get excited over the food for us. Other than "cajun night", each night was the same as the previous cruises. Of course I had a couple favorite dishes, but RCI just doesn't excite me when it comes to food. Their sugar-free desserts are delicious, their soups, wonderful, but everything else seems a little lackluster to me. One night I even chose an additional appetizer as my main course as nothing else appealed to me and I was not going to opt for the ranch steak! My wish for these ships would be to either rotate menus every 6 months or so, or to offer different selections in the Windjammer or even room service. Unfortunately, each night was the same menu in all three places. I believe the Windjammer may have had a carving station, and no lobster on lobster night, but other than that, the same. This class of RCI ship does not have the alternate (extra cost) dining option, so you are stuck with the fare that is offered or opt for a burger or hotdog. Please don't misunderstand, I would never knock the food served, as it is especially good for my waistline that it doesn't appeal to me!! The first RCI cruise the menu was pretty good, the second I grew a bit tired of it, the third, I felt like it was a restaurant I have been frequenting consistently with the same ol' dependable offerings! I have booked again with RCI, but this time it is on the Mariner with the optional dining choices. Although I don't necessarily agree with "paying extra" for "better food", I will....you can count on that! Buffets - we only had the buffet for breakfast and three times for lunch. We usually took our food to our cabin to enjoy it on the balcony. It seemed like this ship had very few late night buffets, though - they had the chocolate buffet, the grand gala buffet and one other that I heard of, but not one every night like all other ships I have been on. The ports: Belize - one of my favorites. This was our second trip here. We booked cave tubing with X-Treme and had a blast!!! I still have little bruises on my butt from those rocks!! ? We were back to the pier about 1 ½ hours before the last tender, but didn't shop much. Just a bottle of cashew wine...Mmmmmmmm Costa Maya - beautiful! Also one of my favorites and does so much to renew my soul. No tours here for us - we hiked along the shore line on the old coral reef looking at the tide pools for hours. Had lunch at Mamacita's - ask for David - he is a character!!!! Watched the free tourist show and shopped a bit. Returned to the ship, looked at the dinner menu and returned to shore for dinner at the Lobster Shack. Had delicious lobster taquitos - Yum!!! Service was a bit slow, but the food was good! Cozumel - our 7th time here. We did the normal with Dear Husband buying me a ring or two and lunch at Pancho's. Missed Sally this trip, I'm sorry to say. I really think everyone should try Sally's Mini golf whilst in Cozumel. She makes the best sangria and is a wonderful lady! Went back to the ship early for a quick nap. The Spa - Jade gives a great stone massage. Edina doesn't put anything into it. Ask for Jade. She is young and talkative and not pushy on the products. One thing I always do is tell them up front that I have most of their products (actually I do, so I am not lying, I love their line). The Spa is clean and a bit more spacious than on the Rhapsody, I think. They also offered chair massages and scalp/neck/shoulder massages on debarkation day - that was the first I had seen of that! The entertainment: Our entertainment was good - we had a juggler, a comedian, a magician, a pianist, a singer (that we did not see), Two Crazy Guys (we saw them on a previous cruise) and only one production show as it was a brand new crew - the production show was on the last night. The ship: Clean and spacious. Lots of room to walk. The centrum was not as impressive as most ships. The fountains were dry the whole week and the sculpture was, um, different. I did NOT like the layout of the Windjammer - it was very cluttered and people were tripping all over the place to get their food, even when it wasn't crowded. The solarium was nice but not as pretty as on the Splendour. Of the 3 RCI ships I have been on, the Grandeur seemed the smallest yet is the largest! The crew: Very friendly and helpful. The purser's desk staff was more friendly than most I have encountered. The shopping and port guide (husband and wife team) were extremely helpful. The loyalty ambassador - hmm, a negative here. She did her job, but she just didn't go the extra little bit that RCI employees are known for. I did book, but not because of anything that she did - I booked because I wanted to. There was no encouragement to book onboard and if you didn't know what you wanted........well, she just wasn't much help. The CC party: Impressive! We had several show up (I was afraid we wouldn't make the minimum!) and each attendant got a pouch lanyard and a CC pin, as well as a door prize drawing for the neatest computer mouse. I really, REALLY wanted to buy one of these mice, but they didn't have them for sale ? I guess I have to watch eBay! The shops: Normal cruise stuff. However, they are now selling small "replicas" of some of the towel animals for $7 each. Unfortunately, they only had two of them available on our cruise so I am in need of the other 5!!!!! If anyone has an RCI cruise planned soon and has some extra room in their luggage...... ? That's about all that I can recall at the moment. If anyone has any questions I am more than happy to answer to the best of my ability! Thanks for taking the time to read this! Chris Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Grandeur of the Seas - What a beautiful ship. The openness was wonderful. The glass and marble and wood, just beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on 1/17, in the rain, so we skipped any tour of the town and went right to the ship. We ... Read More
Grandeur of the Seas - What a beautiful ship. The openness was wonderful. The glass and marble and wood, just beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on 1/17, in the rain, so we skipped any tour of the town and went right to the ship. We boarded the bus for transfers from the airport - that left a little to be desired - felt like cattle being herded through, but once we got to the ship, the embarkation went pretty smoothly. As soon as we boarded, the teen program reps stopped our boys and gave them info on the activities. Went and checked out our cabins. They were decent - small, like all cruise cabins, but nice. The little sofa settee was a little beat up looking, otherwise it was fine. Decent location for us. The food in the Windjammer was okay for a buffet. lots of variety. decent presentation. The pizza, hot dog and hamburger stand was okay. same thing every day. The dining room - we did all of our dinners there and two breakfast and one lunch. Dinner - Service was awesome. Our waiter Sonay was incredible. As well as our assistant waiter Gabrielle. They were from Turkey and Hungary. Sonay was quick to make lots of jokes. He kept us entertained. The food was decent. Wasn't the absolute best, but it was good. Didn't care for the chicken marsala, but everything else was "yummy" as Sonay would say! We had the late seating, in the center of the 4th floor, next to the Captain's table. The only bad thing about the late seating was that some days, the shows were before the dinner and we didn't make it to the shows. Bar service was fine. Never had to wait too long to be served. The daily drink specials were good. Entertainment - the two comedians were great! The late night show that was squeezed into the South Pacific - and I mean squeezed in - it was standing room only. We didn't make it to all of the shows (because of our late seating), but the two other shows were entertaining. BINGO - oh well that $9000 jackpot got quite a crowd~ and Skippy - one of the cruise staff was hysterical - quite entertaining! We spent lots of money trying to win lots of money - didn't happen! Game shows - the Love and Marriage was really funny. The older couple - quite a riot! Didn't care for the Millionaire game show ho hum. Karoake was fun - a lot of "superstar wannabes" - some of it was a little too serious - but there was definitely some talent and lots of entertainment! The Quest - was a riot! lots of fun! we hooked up with three older couples and it was alot of fun! Other activities - were okay - wish there were more "pool games" - and more frequent. some were funny. Ports - Cozumel was awesome - we've been there before and love it there. Did our own excursion = rented a jeep and toured the island and did what we wanted to do. lots of fun! and of course, senor frogs! what a hoot! Grand Cayman - unfortunately was cancelled due to rough seas. Very bummed that we didn't go there - have never been there before and we we all looking forward to it - so we got another day at sea. The cruise entertainment staff added more activities, but i had hoped for more. I guess nothing could soothe our disappointment of not being able to swim with the stingrays! Costa Maya - loved it. first time there, little hokey in the cruise ship dock area - early on in the cruise we had heard that our original departure time was changed from 1 am until 8 pm. we were hoping to do the Uvero Beach Party at Twilight. Once we missed Grand Cayman, the captain announced that we would arrive at 8 am instead of noon, which was a small consolation bonus, but hey....Once we arrived in port, we rented bicycles and did our own tour. rode pretty far down, way past Mahajual. then we went back to Mahajual, hung out on the beach, did a little shopping, and then did a snorkeling boat trip. nice snorkeling. Then two more days at sea. way too windy and cool for sunning. unless u like sunning in jeans and a sweatshirt. The Captain - as everyone was making jokes about his learner permit, etc... he was quite young. and he liked his milk and cookies and peanut butter. What a nice captain.... funny... but still... a little young to be driving a boat! Crowd on the ship - It was a different type of crowd than we're used too. Not the 30 - 50's crowd that I read about! By the sixth day, although we were having a wonderful time, and let's face it... you make your own fun... we had enough of this crowd. i think it was too many days stuck on the ship with these people. I have to say, of all of the places we have been, and we've travelled quite extensively, and of all of the cruises, we have never seen so many rude and ignorant people. They should have offered "Elevator Etiquette" lessons for these people. And the words "Excuse Me or Pardon Me" is not in their vocabulary. They just walk right into you, bump you, push, whatever.... I don't think i'll ever cruise out of New Orleans again. Maybe it was just the mix of people on this particular ship, but they seemed to mingle amongst themselves! However, the cruise staff - very very nice, friendly and helpful. Smiling faces from all of them! Our room stewart Florian was nice. Our room was always nice and he made cute towel animals. No complaints.. we've had better, more attentive, on other cruises, but his service was fine. Gym - small - did the pilates class - for a $10 charge. it was good = nice introduction to pilates. class was a little crowded, crammed into a small area. otherwise it was fun. did not do any of the spa services on the ship this time. Done them before on other cruises. I think they're a little overpriced, and I'm so spoiled by my massage therapist, no one could top it! Rock climbing wall - lot's of fun - GET OUT THERE - it was an experience! Teen program - well, we were a little disappointed, we were actually considering this cruise and another one, and we chose this one because our TA told us there would be more activities for the kids. There was very little participation from the other teens on board. Don't get me wrong, our kids had a great time, just the programs were little lame. Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle - was held on the 2nd day in the Viking = it was nice to meet the people that we chatted on line with before the cruise. All in all, we had a wonderful experience on the Grandeur of the Seas. I would definitely sail on her again, but out of a different port! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
After a long long day of shuttling from Vancouver Canada to Seattle, our flight landed us in San Juan at approximately 1 PM - just in time to board the ship. I was travelling as a single parent with my nine year old son. I would always ... Read More
After a long long day of shuttling from Vancouver Canada to Seattle, our flight landed us in San Juan at approximately 1 PM - just in time to board the ship. I was travelling as a single parent with my nine year old son. I would always try to make a point of flying in the day before. This was our second cruise, so live and learn. Emabarkation was smooth, both my son and I were extremely tired and wanted to ditch our bags as soon as possible. Our last cruise out of Seattle saw us waiting in line for embarkation for over 2 hours. Our short 10 minute wait was a godsend. My son and I went straght to our cabin and decided to stay onboard and enjoy a light lunch, check out the ship and relax after travelling for over 24 hrs. The regular drill went smoothly, with all the staff being highly professional. It was great, as our ship was doing the drill in port, one of the larger Carnival ships was leaving. All the excitement from their ship rubbed off on ours and made our journey that much more memorable. The first night, the ship hosts a meet and greet for the children to be aquainted with the Adventure Ocean program. The staff were GREAT. Starting with a brief overview of the program, followed by rules, and waiver signing. This program is fantastic, I found myself wondering what to do with my time. My son, was begging me to let him join in the activities. They host everything from interactive talent shows, scavenger hunts to arts and crafts. The staff were very good with the children and went out of their way to be nice to me too! I had a cabin on deck 8 inside category K. I work in the tourism industry, so I didn't get to choose. Our cabin was 8023, I had the pleasure of hearing the calypso band in my room afternoon, our cabin was directly under the pool deck. After the first two days, you get used to it, but it was alarming at first. The location of the cabin was great, very convenient to get to most areas of the ship. Inside was great for the days when our tummies were a bit queasie. The bedding does need to be updated a bit, but, overall, I would have NO complaints. Our housekeeper was Simon, and we loved the towel creatures he made for us each day. Dining I missed the Grand Buffet - was just too pooped from being on shore in Cozumel. I heard in the dining room the next morning that it was fantastic. The chef on the ship has an Indian background, so most things have a lovely exotic twist! The fellow that does the carvings is from the Phillipines and he does amazing things with fruit and vegetables! The chocolate buffet was on the second night and that was great too! My son and I loved our waiter Tomas to death and he treated us very well. I have a weakness for sweet things, he was very accomodating! Along with his assistant Marcell, we had a great dining experience. I will say that the food is average, in my job, I eat in really great restaurants, but, if you consider the amount of food these guy put out in a day, I think they do an outstanding job. They did do a surf and turf on the menu, but not a big Seafood 'focused' menu. They offered a great variety of seafood each night, salmon, shrimp, lobster, and a variety of whitefish. If your watching your wasteline, they also offered a lighter menu each night. Rice was use far too often...I really hate to think of how much rice they throw away! Kudos to the ships dining crew! The solarium was great - I prefered the outdoor pool - they had a really great band that played in the afternoon. Was the type of band that reminded me I was in paradise and not at work! Never a problem to get a deck chair. Our cruise I felt was quite empty. Several empty tables at dinner as well. The classes at the gym were always packed though. Entertainment Day One - casual - depart San Juan Comedy by Phil Tag, Dance Affair and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. Our dinner partner said it was a great show, he didn't like the singers to much. Sail away party at the pool deck Day Two - Formal - At Sea The Original Drifters - they were AWESOME! Adult Karaoke Talent Show Comedy show in the Lounge with Phil Tag Day Three - Smart Casual - Montego Bay Jamaica Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers - "Jump Jive and Swing" This was a super high engery show. Colorful costumes (I thought the singers were great) The Quest - an funky adult game 50's and 60's rock and roll party with Chuck Roast and the Mashed Potatoes (cute) Day Four - Casual - Grand Cayman Variety Show - Comedy of Max Docelli - I missed this but his show was similar to the first comedian apparently. Caribbean dance party on the pool deck with Flare a Caribbean band Dance affair in the South Pacific Lounge - Latin American and Ballroom Dancing - this was supposed to be very good Day Five - Smart Casual - Costa Maya Steve Shaffer Comedian - he was very funny Murder Mystery - this was put on by the Cruise director and cruise staff - really cute. Day Six - Formal - Cozumel The Royal Caribbean Dancers did a show called Beat Goes On - it was a revue that went through music from the 50's - present. It was done very well - lots of energy The theme for the disco was 70's - I didn't go, but the video looked like everyone has a great time - this was the second formal night as well. Day Seven - Casual - At Sea The farewell show - it was okay - they showed the cruise video and made a plug for the sale - it did look good - almost got me! The had a magician Charly Frye - he was quite funny, different, but funny and a Battle of the Sexes in the Lounge. All of these activities were well organized. There were a load of other options every day. My favorite was the trivia - it was a great way to meet others on the ship. Bingo was expensive, Casino was fun - I did win, but, it all went back to the house eventually! Ports of Call Montego Bay - Jamaica We started off with our first day in Montego Bay. Having always wanting to visit Jamaica, I was really looking forward to this port. Overall, this was the most disappointing stop on the entire cruise. Had I planned correctly, I would have done the shore excursion to Ocho Rios, Dunns River Falls. Being Canadian, I could not justify the cost of the trip of USD $120 pp (did I mention I work in tourism!). We opted to take the taxi to the crafters market - bad idea, we were taken as soon as we entered the market. My son was guided by a Jamaican fellow, and brought to his 'store' where I felt oblidged to purchase a cheap necklace for 10.00 USD. I bought a beach wrap for myself, only to discover when I returned home it was actually made in Singapore, hmm, really disappointed. From the market we went to Dr. Cave Beach - it was really great, white sandy beaches, and clean clean clean. I will visit again, but, I think with someone from the area, or at a resort of some sort - will not spend time in this port ever again in the future. Grand Cayman Following the recommendation of several cruise critic people, we did the Captain Marvins trip to Stingray City. Our reservation was booked and we went out on a Charter boat with approximately 25 others. The guides were great, they took us to the Coral Gardens, Barrier Reef and Stingray City. It was amazing to be with the Stingrays, unfortunately the water was very rough that day, my son and I ingested a great deal of salt water. I was very sick :(. The skipper went right in the waters and fed the fish so we saw a great variety of fish, and brought us right smack in the middle of the stingrays, away from the masses - it really was amazing. The dock where the boats leave from is great too - Bill Gates and Sylvester Stallone both have homes very close to Captain Marvin's dock - I can only dream. Following the tour we were returned to downtown and received free rum cakes! We had lunch at a small restaurant where I enjoyed conch fritters and cold beers - it was great! My favourite port. Costa Maya This day, we arrived in the port, I had this great idea that we would rent bikes. Costa Maya's port is built for the cruise industry. The city has done a great job of catering to the tourists in this port. When we arrived, they did not have any child size bikes, so we enjoyed the free cultural show, swim up bar, shopping and beach area. We were given a task by the Adventure Ocean people to find some items in Costa Maya - sand, flower, shells and rocks. We had fun collecting these items, plus, I was able to find some lovely sea glass - I can turn this into a cute picture frame to remember our vacation by! Cozumel Shopping in Cozumel was great for Mexico. Now it depends what type of shopping you will do, but there is everything here - prices are not too bad,and you can get most handicrafts that I have seen in a Mexican city. Here my son and I took a taxi out to the San Gervasio Ruins, it was $45.00 for the taxi and 5.00 to gain entry into the San Gervasio Ruins. I would highly recommend doing the ships tour or planning a tour before you arrive. The taxi driver did not add to our experience at all - we made the most of it and had fun exploring the ruins. We spotted lizards of all sorts and monkeys here - it was fun. The trip back was good too, the taxi does have to drive around the city so you do get to see a fair bit of the area. He dropped us off downtown, where we enjoyed the city square and the shopping. We returned to the ship via horse and buggy - it was a relaxing end to a good day - we spent the rest of the day sunning on the pool deck which we enjoyed very much. If you are not a Crown and Anchor member, sign up - I did get a few freebies - nothing to write home about, but free all the same. I loved our cruise, next time, I want to bring another adult, but, my son & I had a great time (kids program is better than the adults!). I'm busy thinking about the 5 pounds I put on and how I'm going to take it off!!! Time to start that running club I've been talking about for a year! I hope this was informative - not as formal as other reviews, but, how I remember it. I loved this ship, loved the staff and really enjoyed RCCL overall - I would love to go on Grandeur of the Seas again, but, want to explore new territory next year - maybe Hawaii! Cheers Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
Here is my review for the RCCL cruise July 18-30, 2003 on the Grandeur of the Seas from Harwich/UK around the Baltic and Norway. We decided on taking the RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 12-day cruise from Harwich/UK on July 18, 2003 to visit ... Read More
Here is my review for the RCCL cruise July 18-30, 2003 on the Grandeur of the Seas from Harwich/UK around the Baltic and Norway. We decided on taking the RCCL Grandeur of the Seas 12-day cruise from Harwich/UK on July 18, 2003 to visit most Baltic States and some Norwegian Fjords. On arrival in Harwich at around 12:30 pm we parked our car in the assigned cruise parking lot. Our luggage was taken from us at the car and taken directly onboard. We had to board a bus directly to the check in counter. Check In was organised very professional compared to other cruises we have taken. Within half an hour of leaving our car in the parking lot we were in our cabin. I have never experienced this little waiting around on any cruise! At first I thought, that maybe the boat is half empty, but we found out, that it was sold out, making this first experience even more impressive. Our cabin was an Aft Deluxe Suite with a Terrace. The only annoying question I asked myself was, why did I pay for this "Suite", as the Deluxe outside staterooms on Deck 7 had almost the same size room and were in no way different inside. The only difference was the little bit larger terrace compared to the balcony. On the whole, this was my most annoying observation. As it was lunchtime we went to eat at the Windjammer Buffet at Deck 9. Expecting some mediocre buffet food, like we had on other cruise lines I was stunned. The food tasted excellent and was not kept in the trays for too long to get watery or tasteless. The staff was very observant and remembered your favorite drink or dessert and even got it for you. The only suggestion for improvement I have is, that the plastic covers that protect the food are too narrow to get food by without putting half your food against the plastic edge. Anybody that has used this boat knows what I mean. We used the Windjammer buffet daily, as they served the same food as in the Great Gatsby Dining room. The Windjammer is to the stern of the ship so we had a window table overlooking the direction of travel which we found more intimate than the Dining room where the curtains were shut for a cosier atmosphere sharing with 8 other passengers. If one did not like any of the offered food that day, a New York Strip Steak or Salmon was always available. We had a waiter from Slowakia who reserved "our" table for every dinner and had the drinks and rolls waiting for our arrival. We loved the experience especially after our experiences with Costa. In the evening we registered our 4 year old child in the children's centre. The staff of the children's center, especially Kit Kat Kim and Ross the Boss, were very attentive to the needs of children and our daughter loved it. RCCL did not just build a children deposit box like some other cruise lines, but a a real children's centre with planned activities, that actually were followed through. Our daughter loved it so much, that we had to drag her out at 10 pm. On days in port our daughter preferred the club against walking with us through cities. You noticed the difference in the staff also. The RCCL club personnel loved their job and it showed. The evening shows on the Grandeur of the Seas was above the average of our other past experiences. The only suggestion I have is, why not mix the piano and the violin with something else instead of having a violin player playing for one hour and the piano player playing for one hour the next day. These two shows were the emptiest shows during the whole cruise and people were constantly getting up and leaving. It was too heavy for all in one go. If they played the violin for 10 minutes, have some piano for 10 minutes and then do some comedy or else for 10 minutes and repeat with the violin and so on, to make up the hour, the program would not be so heavy and less people would have lost interest so quickly. Everything else was above average, the comedian, the ventriloquist, the juggler, singers etc... just excellent. The only perceived negatives: My lighter ran out and I tried to get a new lighter or some matches. RCCL does not sell lighters or matches for security reasons??!!! You can buy anything you want ashore and bring it on the boat, but you can not get it on the boat. Left me a bit puzzled or are land purchased lighters less dangerous??? The head casino cashier, whom I asked for a light gave me a preach about the dangers of smoking and his personal opinion about smoking in the casino as well. When I told him, that gambling, smoking and drinking would all go together and that a lot of gambling would stop, if you could not smoke in the casino, he said he did not care if he would loose his job. Bit strange for an employee....in a casino. I also missed a sportsdeck to play some soccer or volleyball as I prefer that kind of sport to sitting on a machine. Apart from that, we had very good employees, that were proud to work for RCCL. Not one talked badly about the company as a lot of staff on other cruiselines did. Checkout was also very smooth and relaxed, more so than another cruiseline, that proclaims their checkout to be "Freestyle". Our luggage was already standing color coded in line for pickup. A bus was waiting to bring us to the RCCL parking lot. The ship arrived at 7:00 am in Harwich. At 8:50 am we were sitting in our car. Very, very professional indeed!!!!!!!!!!! Anybody that has cruised on another cruiseline, I recommend trying RCCL. Any first time cruiser please be aware, that if you try RCCL and another company on your second cruise, you might be disappointed with your second cruise or stick to RCCL to avoid disappointment. We will certainly use them over again and again. Keep up the good work RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
Our family of four sailed last summer on the Grandeur for 12 nights out of Harwich on their Baltic cruise. We flew into London the morning of the cruise, and there was little difficulty meeting up with the RCCL folks at the airport and ... Read More
Our family of four sailed last summer on the Grandeur for 12 nights out of Harwich on their Baltic cruise. We flew into London the morning of the cruise, and there was little difficulty meeting up with the RCCL folks at the airport and getting our bus to the cruise. We were among the first passengers to arrive, and we were able to board even before noon. Our cabins (inside for the two teenagers and small suite for mom and dad) were just as advertised. We've sailed before on the Rhapsody, a sister ship of the Grandeur, so everything had a vague familiarity. Our only complaint about our outside cabin was that we smelled far too much smoke from our immediate neighbors. There must be a shared ventilation system, or something. It's a joke that cabins are "non-smoking," as I think that's all that our neighbors did the entire cruise. Likewise, it was sometimes hard to enjoy our wonderful little balcony, since one or both of them were always out there! Dinner (late seating) was at a table for 10 with some of the nicest people we have ever had the pleasure of cruising with. Our waitress and assistant waiter were the best we have ever had --- her name was Katrina, and she would make recommendations every night on what was and was not "good." If you didn't take her advice, she would bring extra of what she recommended and give it to you instead! I remarked more than once that the Grandeur staff seemed happier in general than any other cruise we have sailed on. Everyone aboard greeted you with a cheery hello, and I just felt like they were happy. I asked Katrina, and she said that it was because they all really liked the captain. Ports of call on this cruise included Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tallinn, and St. Petersburg. We are not real fond of ship shore excursions, preferring instead to do our own research and venture forth! It makes the anticipation of going on the cruise all the greater when you read about the places you are going in advance. In Oslo (our first port), we bought a travel pass at the Tourist Office, allowing us all-day access to transportation. We rode the bus, the subway, and a water taxi, so we got our money's-worth! It was a busy day with stops at Vigaland (sp?), the Munch Museum, the Viking Museum, and the WWII Resistance Museum. Not much time for shopping here, but everything was very expensive, so that didn't matter. We were lucky to hook up with two or three other families, with whom we shared most of our shore expeditions. It was fun, and we are still great friends with some of them. Helsinki was a bit more grim-appearing than the pretty Oslo, but we still managed to hoof it all over that town. It looks like the Cold War era Russia we see depicted in films - in fact, many are filmed there for that reason. We did some department-store shopping here, and we ate Italian food for lunch. There is a smallish flea market near the port that had some nice jewelry items, and it was a cheaper city than Oslo. Copenhagen is such a pretty stop! We took a boat ride the evening we arrived, getting a view of the city from the canals. Following that, we went to Tivoli, where the kids enjoyed some of the rides. I would not recommend arriving there after dark, since there clearly were some lovely planted areas, but we couldn't much see them. The next day, we took the double-decker tour bus around town, getting on and off at will. In Stockholm and in Copenhagen, our teenaged daughter loved getting to go to the H&M stores. There are several really high quality shops right on the pier where we were docked, and they sold the finest quality amber that we saw on the whole cruise. I wear Dansko clogs, and there was a shop that was full of them there right on the pier! In Stockholm, my husband's favorite place was the Vasa Museum. It is a sailing ship that sank on its maiden voyage right there in the harbor. After hundreds of years, it was salvaged and placed in this museum. We also toured a nearby museum and did lots of shopping and walking around the old town area here. It's a very pretty city. Tallinn was the surprise of the cruise. It's a great little stop, and we all enjoyed a walking tour that we put together with all of our individual guidebooks. Tallinn is a good place to buy amber as well as handmade linens, although I thought the amber in Copenhagen was perhaps a bit nicer. The highlight of the trip was St. Petersburg, where we spent two full days. We went the route of getting our Russian visas before we left which was pretty daunting - you have to send your passport to the Russian Consulate in New York. It all went as they say it does, and we had them back in the prescribed amount of time. We hired a private guide, driver and van, and we were able to see far far more than we would have seen had we done ship shore excursions. There were some on our cruise who went the ship-tour route, and when their museum was closed unexpectedly for the day, they had no alternative but to sit on the ship all day, since you cannot get off the boat unless you have a Russian visa. We saw Peterhof, Pushkin, Catherine's Palace, the Hermitage, and far far more. Our guide was very knowledgeable, and she even kept our teenagers interested. We also were able to take a ride on a Russian subway down the steepest escalator I have ever been on. We went to a Russian fast-food restaurant for lunch, visited a Russian market, a candy store and a pharmacy. It was all very interesting! There were three at-sea days on this cruise, although there were a couple of days where we did not arrive at a port until late afternoon and left the next afternoon. In every port, we docked at a pier, unlike in the Caribbean, where we were "tendered ashore." Email me with any questions! Kathy M Galveston, TX Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
In early February, we decided to take a cruise with another family of five. After nearly booking a 5 night Cruise with Carnival, I found a 7 night cruise with Royal for less and all the kids had their own bedrooms. To my surprise, we were ... Read More
In early February, we decided to take a cruise with another family of five. After nearly booking a 5 night Cruise with Carnival, I found a 7 night cruise with Royal for less and all the kids had their own bedrooms. To my surprise, we were able to get 5 rooms side by side with a 6th 2 doors down on the third deck right under the dining room. I do not know if they had a group cancel, due to the pending Gulf War (we invaded Iraq the day we arrived in Key West) or how we were able to get these rooms together and at a very good price. Embarkation, Cabin and Ship Appearance: We arrived at the terminal at 2:00 (when about half the ship did). We dropped off our bags at the pier. We drove around the convention center at least three times trying to find a place to park. Their main lot was full and the overflow was a parking garage that my full size van would not fit in. After parking in the convention parking lot and having to walk abound this large building we met up with the rest of our party. The line was long but we were able to get checked in about 30 minutes. We were send into another room were they described the security procedures. After about 10 minutes we were on the gang plank waiting to have our first pictures taken. (one for fun and the other for our guest pass) The main area that greeted you when you first walked on the ship was beautiful. It reminded us of something you would see at a nice land based hotel complete with glass lined elevators. We had inside cabins under the dining room slightly to the back of the ship. The cabins were much nicer than when we went on our first cruise in 1985. The bathroom was larger, but the shower still had the cold curtain brushing against you. The girls had an adjoining room between the three of them, which gave them an extra bathroom when getting ready for dinner. Dining We had 2nd sitting for dinner. We liked the second sitting nice we did not have to hurry to get ready for dinner after our shore trips. With us having 6 teenagers on this cruise, the only requirement that we had was that we all had to have dinner together in the evening. After the first meal, that was not a problem. My son and his friend kept a journal of everything that they ate. Every evening the waiter would ask them what they had that day and the last day purchased the cook book and had the chef and many of the waiters sign it. The food was very good, maybe not a fancy as some other cruises, but much better than what we normally eat. With us having the second seating, we were in no hurry to leave the dining room. Sometimes we would be the last people there, partly from having all the fun that we had and secondly for having second and third servings. My son would have at least two main dishes and three deserts. The waiter and assistant waiter were glad to bring them as much as they wanted. After the first night, we showed them our Coke Card, we did not have to ask for a Coke the rest of the cruise at dinner they just brought one to the table. entertainment The shows were very good except for the Broadway Show. The first night that had a sample of what we were to see. The only group that we did not see was of some kids from Florida and their break dancing. They were great on the first night, I do not know how we missed their performance. The comedians were great, both the family and adult only shows. We are not big casino people, but did spend a little time there. After playing a few machines and not winning anything, my wife said play this one. there was a couple playing the same machine and was winning pretty good. After about the third pull, I won $25 and was able to keep most of it before we left for dinner. The last day, the ladies wanted to play bingo. The jackpot was over $8,000. Needless to say, we did not win and will not play bingo again on a cruise. Ports of Call Progresso - Many of the people just went to the beach that day. I took my family to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. After having been to these ruins in 1981, I found were they have deteriorated a great deal. Many of the sight you could not longer climb on for safety reasons. My kids still thought it was good. Cozumel - In the morning 1/2 of our group did the shore snorkel and the other half went in the afternoon. (we waited to long to by our tickets to go together) The snorkeling was good, not much coral to look at. At the end, we did find a nice school of fish to swim through. Had way too many people on this trip. People were swimming into each other and you could not hear the guide pointing out things. That afternoon we went shopping along the pier and my son and his friend with his dad went to Senior Frogs. Key West - On our way to Key West was the only somewhat rough day at sea. The Captain was trying to get to port early since we had to go through immigrations (this was the day we invaded Iraq). We did not do a tour and was disappointed with Key West. We were not able to get off the boat until 4:30 and the shops closed at 5 to 6, except for the bars. We did go to a small beach and saw a beautiful sunset. some people said that there were dolphins next to the ship, but we did not see them. Disembarkation and final comments. They called people off by baggage color. Since we drive to New Orleans, our color was the last to be called. No one would have known if we had left before our time or had anything to declare. We had our card filled out, but no one was there to take it. We are planning on taking a Princess Cruise on the Grand out of Galveston in March 2005 as a graduation trip for the boys. I wished that Royal would bring one of their Explorer class ships to Galveston or New Orleans. When you have a family of five, we can not afford to fly to Florida, but have to find ports that we can drive to. If they would we would have booked with them instead of Princess since we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2003
Grandeur of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 3.5 3.8
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.5 3.9
Rates N/A 4.2

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