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.