9 night world cruise / Re-positioning of the Grandeur of the: Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review by m0n0lyth

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9 night world cruise / Re-positioning of the Grandeur of the

Sail Date: April 2013
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
This review contains the opinions of both myself and my mother. We're cruise buddies and while we usually share the same opinions on most things cruise wise, there are some areas where we differ on occasion. I will make the difference in opinion (where applicable) as clear as possible so as not to create a confusing experience for the reader.

Summary (TLDR): Overall the Grandeur of the Seas itself is an okay ship that is in need of some minor TLC. The on-board activities, while not lacking so much in number, were for the majority, painfully uninteresting. The food in the dining room was barely acceptable, however the dining room service was good, not great. All specialty restaurants were fantastic in food quality and service. Windjammer Cafe was exactly how it always is, average. Bar service and quality of drinks served was absolute top notch at any location we utilized on-board. Musical entertainment was so-so with the exception of one show (Tango Buenos Aires) which More had a cast of well-trained and talented musicians. Common areas aboard the ship left much to be desired with the exception of the Solarium which was just right. Ports of call were all very enjoyable with the exception of Samana (Dominican Republic) which was absolutely awful in every regard. Transport to and from the ship at all locations including initial embarkation and final disembarkation was very cheap and easy to secure. This entire cruise experience gets a 3 out of 5 stars and at this point becomes our worst cruise experience to date. --End of Summary--

Background: My mother and I have been cruising for years. Originally as I was a youngster and now with both of us as adults. The majority of the cruises we have on record are with RCI (all of my cruises have been with RCI). My mother recently took a cruise with her best friend on Norwegian Cruise Line. We have sailed aboard the Monarch, Majesty, Grandeur, Freedom, and my mother sailed aboard the Norwegian Star. Between the two of us, the Monarch has been sailed upon multiple times and we absolutely loved it. This was our first Vision Class cruise and it will likely be our last. This particular cruise was a 9 Night World Cruise for the repositioning of the Grandeur of the Seas from San Juan PR to Baltimore MD. The Grandeur had previously been operating out of Panama.

Embarkation: We've done this before so we knew that as long as we were there before all aboard we'd be okay. Getting a taxi from the San Juan airport is simple enough and cheap. Once we arrived at the port we checked our bags and headed inside expecting to wait in line. We were greeted with a big empty room with a long counter fully staffed and only a few other guests at the counter. There was zero waiting. We walked right up to the counter, handed over our documents, filled out a medical questionnaire, got our pictures taken, received our seapass, and walked onto the gangway for boarding. It was the same situation there. The gangway was completely empty aside from the officers at the checkpoints. We had our cards scanned twice and we're on board in no time. From leaving the taxi to being aboard the ship, the total time spent was less-than five minutes and not a single line was stood in.

Our take on the ship as an object:
The Bad:
-The Grandeur of the Seas is rather dirty when compared to any other ship upon which we have sailed. There is literal dirt around the frames of many of the windows. The windows themselves are dirty and kept the same dirt patterns throughout the entirety of our cruise from what we noticed. Chrome and brass remained completely unpolished until the last 2 days at sea in most of the common areas, though it was always kept pretty neat around the staircases.
-An elevator (one out of the two available that go to the viking crown lounge) broke down a couple of times during the cruise.
-Certain lounges and quiet areas including the library which used to be around the Centrum have been removed and replaced by more cabins making for a rather claustrophobic upper centrum area.
-The layout of common areas is illogical and leaves much to be desired. There are far too many dead ends with too many areas closed off during certain parts of the day (something we've never come across on any cruise).
-Some of the stateroom bathrooms have a very strong mildew odor that apparently seeps up from the drains.
-In our room, the mattresses were extremely uncomfortable. They were very hard and bouncy and half of my mattress was seemingly crushed which for the first night made me feel as if I was falling out of the bed. The pillows offer the absolute minimum in terms of support.
-The bathroom is tiny. If you need to sit on the toilet, you must sit diagonally. Cruise ship bathrooms are always pretty small in normal cabins but this was really something quite different.
-There was more vibration on the Grandeur than any other ship I've been on. Chandeliers in the Viking Crown rattle. If you have an adjoining room, the door between the rooms will rattle all through the night. Your drinks on your table in the dining room will look like a stampede is brewing off in the distance.

The Good:
-The Solarium was more private and overall more enjoyable than the solarium aboard the Freedom of the Seas.
-The entire pool deck is very well laid out. Additionally, the pools are saltwater which makes for a nice natural feeling swim.
-All public restrooms aboard were kept in pristine condition -- even those on the pool deck. It was like walking into a completely sterile environment.
-Floors 4,5,and 6 of the Centrum area are very pretty and open. They did a nice job with the renovations in that regard.
-The Schooner Bar is in an outstanding location with massive windows overlooking the sea, not a deck. There's plenty of seating all around and it makes for a great place to sit and think/read.
-The art seen around the staircases is really something special. It makes for a great activity to just go around and see it all while exploring the ship.
-The design and layout of the Viking Crown Lounge aboard the Grandeur is really special. If you take the elevators up after 11 PM, when the door opens, you're right at the dance floor of the most happening night club on-board. I mean, right there. Walk out of the lift and you're dancing. Very very cool design element. Izumi is in the rear of the Viking Crown on an upper terrace and has massive windows looking aft across the Crystal Canopy that covers the solarium while another area of the restaurant overlooks the dance floor. It's a pretty neat sight.
-At the bow of the ship, the mooring lines and winches are all visible and uncovered. This may be a bad thing for some as they may see it as ugly, but it is quite interesting to see the activity down there as the ship pulls in or away from the various ports of call. To me, it makes everything more of a nautical adventure as it brings the reality of everything about docking into plain view. The area itself is kept pretty tidy.
-Rust, which is a constant issue with any ship, is very well taken care of aboard the Grandeur. Spots and areas that we saw when we first boarded, were gone by the time we left our very first port of call.
-The Grandeur of the Seas is generally a very pretty ship and it looks great in port even when docked right next to the enormous and beautiful Freedom. It has very nice lines and you can tell that whoever designed it externally, had an eye for looking ahead.

Stateroom: We caught a deal this time that involved us getting a room on the third deck in an inside cabin. The room was small even by cruise ship standards but it did its job well by serving as a place to sleep and change. It was all we needed and we were overall quite happy with it. The lack of natural light makes for an extremely dark room at any time of the day. It's very easy to grab a nap or to oversleep if you don't set an alarm of some kind. We were in room 3125 which is port-aft and not far from the rear staircase and main centrum lifts. When looking at the deck plan we were a bit worried because we had no idea what the large blank area was beside our cabin. It turns out there's a crew area there where the housekeeping carts are stored. With the exception of the occasional carts hitting each other, it made for a nice quiet out-of-the way area for our stateroom. The TV is a decent small Samsung flat panel. The channel offerings were garbage. The entire cruise the Hobbit was playing on 5 channels. Each channel had a different language and none of them were English. For the first few nights Adult Swim (the late night channel that replaces cartoon network) came on at the proper east coast time so that was a relief because that's pretty much the only TV I ever watch. By the the 3rd night, however, Adult Swim was never aired. The TV room aboard the ship apparently set it to replay daytime cartoon network shows through the night in place of where [Adult Swim] would be. Why they did this is a mystery to me. I could understand if there were a bunch of children on board but on the entire cruise, all we saw were 2 babies and 1 child of about 10 years. Other than that the ship was loaded with the elderly or upper-middle aged. That was a pretty big letdown as I always love to watch Adult Swim shows to help me come down from the day and it's something I've been able to do on every cruise. As I stated above, the beds were downright awful. Both of our mattresses were extremely hard (not mattress firm, but legitimately HARD) and mine in particular seemed to be crushed on one side to the point where it felt like I was falling out the the bed when I would lie down. I jokingly said that some huge whale of a man must have died in the bed though when I woke up one morning I noticed the comforter had become unwrapped from it's cover and there were a few large stains on it. I was pretty grossed out but our room steward exchanged my comforter and flipped the mattress which helped to get rid of the slope for the most part. If anything the slope then pointed towards the wall which I was okay with. The room (as with many areas on the ship) had its fair share of constant rattles. Some came from the closet, the adjoining room door, and the furniture. If not for the constant rocking, the rattling may have kept me up as I'm usually a very light sleeper. The bathroom is tiny, the tiniest I've ever seen anywhere. To sit on the toilet requires one to sit diagonally, which is quite uncomfortable. The water pressure from the sink faucet was a trickle. The shower is small but powerful and it gets the job done and has a detachable shower head to boot!

Activities: We did not participate in any of the activities aboard as many of the activities offered were uninteresting at best and nothing more than sales pitches at worst. We did observe a few as we do enjoy watching people be people. The Quest is always good fun and watching karaoke makes for an entertaining (sometimes painfully so) time. There were the art auctions which we didn't attend, nor did we attend any of the spa seminars. There were a few cooking demonstrations and the staple of any cruise, the Belly Flop Contest. Trivia contests were available daily as were Sudoku challenges (something my mother and I have never seemed to gain an interest in). Apparently there was a sushi demonstration on board but I missed it as I was completely down and out with a cold for a couple days though I would have liked to attend that one. The Miracle Mile took place as did the Parade of Flags. The parade of flags was particularly enjoyable as it's always nice to see where the crew calls home and watch them express their love for their countries. Overall many activities are offered but it's like cable TV, you have to sift through so much crap that doesn't interest you in the slightest to find something that may satisfy your activity needs/wants. It leaves a lot of time where after a couple days aboard you find yourself wondering what you're going to do with your time as it can all get so very repetitive.

Service: Overall the service was okay. It was different from all of our other cruises but not bad, just okay.
-The bar service (be it at the bar itself or from one of the roaming servers) was excellent 100% of the time. No complaints there.
-The stateroom attendant was average. Unlike other cruises, he never formally introduced himself, and never referred to us by our names (just sir and ma'am). For this cruise we had a cheap inside cabin on deck 3 so that may be the explanation for the difference in service though I cant say I agree with such a practice.
-The dining room service was stellar some nights and other nights left much to be desired. Every night after dinner I would order a coffee with my dessert, and every night I would have to re-order my coffee, and then ask once more for my coffee while everyone else would have theirs right away after they first ordered. I would always be asked like it was an afterthought "sir would you like coffee as well?" This continued straight through to the final day even though I ALWAYS ordered coffee right after dinner. I didn't make a big deal out of it as the people who work on these ships work so incredibly hard as it is. I didn't really mind being the guy they forgot about, but it was just very odd and the first time anything like this has ever happened to either of us in the dining room aboard a cruise. The night before my mother's birthday, I reminded the staff of the fact and I was told some of the waiters would come and sing for her and offer her a cake as is generally tradition. The next evening, nothing happened. They completely forgot about the occasion and it wasn't until we were walking out that the hostess took me aside realizing that the staff had done nothing and she asked me what could be done to fix this. Overall, it was a very odd situation.
-The service in the specialty restaurants was stellar and without comparison. Nothing more needs to be said.
-I went to the spa for one treatment and my mother skipped the spa for this cruise. I had a 50min Swedish massage which was very well done especially considering my masseuse was a very, very petite woman from Spain and I am a rather large man at 6'2" 295 lbs. She had strong magic hands and was very professional. The level of service in the spa was excellent. At the end of the massage there was a one-on-one sales pitch where the masseuse tried to sell the items used during the massage as well as products she recommends for ones individual needs. I found this very awkward as I paid a fair amount of money for a massage and was not expecting any sales pressure at the end. I don't know how to explain it, but it just felt wrong. It ended up stressing me out to an extent as I wasn't sure if by me not buying anything, it would look bad on my masseuse. I just wanted my masseuse to be a masseuse and not a saleswoman. She was a fine masseuse and I gave her a decent tip, I just hope they don't have her tied to some kind of quota for sales because if so, that's a bad practice. Getting a massage should be about getting a massage. The masseuse themselves should have nothing to do with sales of product. This is the first time I've ever had a massage where I was greeted with sales pressure at the end. This was also my first massage on a cruise ship so maybe that's just how it is. I don't think I'll be doing it again, however, if I do, I'll be sure to make it clear that I want no sales pitch at the end now that I know what to expect.

Ports of Call: This was a repositioning cruise from San Juan PR to Baltimore MD. The first 6 days were full of ports including St Maartin, St Kitts, Antigua, Tortola BVI, Samana (Dominican Republic), and Labadee (Haiti), and the final 2 days were at sea en-route to Baltimore.
-St Maartin: We did our usual and hung out at Maho Bay and watched all the airliners come in from the Sunset Bar. It's a really nice place to just chill out, take a dip, and watch as planes come in ultra close to the beach, and blast people on the beach as they take off. It's an entertaining time as well as a great opportunity to catch some cool footage that will have your friends jaws dropping. The food at the bar is always great. It comes out hot and fast and is bursting with flavor. I particularly enjoy the Grouper Fingers. Their onion rings are perfect. The burgers are cooked exactly to order. I can't recommend this place enough. Maho Bay is not a shore excursion that you'll find on the cruise sites or aboard the ship itself. RCI doesn't want people going there but it's simple enough to get a taxi that will take you, and there are always plenty of cruisers in the loop that will be there with you.
-For St Kitts, Antigua and Tortola BVI we did simple taxi tours. We're not ones to go lay out on the beach all day, rent jet skis, go snorkeling, or take boat rides because we can pretty much do all that stuff at home as we live right on the coast in Virginia Beach. We enjoy taking tours of the islands and learning some of the history along the way. Among the three islands we got to see a massive botanical garden at an old sugar mill, a park that was originally used for slave auctions, forts at the top of mountains with breathtaking views of rocky cliffs overlooking large sailboats which looked like tiny bath toys from where we stood. We saw volcanic beaches, massive cotton trees, old-world churches, a 400 year-old fully operational rum distillery, an equally old dockyard that is still in use, tons of chickens running about, cute island children who would wave excitedly at the taxi as it went by, fruit vendors, burning sugar fields, sugar mills, and legitimate local neighborhoods and towns.
-Samana (Dominican Republic): This place is absolutely awful and should be slashed from every cruise itinerary. As soon as your finish your tender to shore it is already very noticeable that this location differs quite a bit from other locations you may have visited. To get to the center of town you can walk or take a taxi (moped with a carriage) for $5. The walk is about 10 minutes if you take your time and just walk at a leisurely pace and don't get caught up in the street vendors. The street vendors are very similar to pan handlers and are extremely pushy about their practices. The best thing you can do is keep walking and ignore them completely. They will have their kids come up to you and try to hand you shells or flowers in some cases grabbing for your hand so they can put it in it, if you accept it, they will expect you to pay for it. Most of the vendor items are your average Caribbean tourist fare -- wooden carvings, costume jewelry, shells, shirts and sarongs -- but some is legitimate art made by the locals themselves. Look for the people who are actually carving, painting, or making the jewelry and not the ones who are just selling it. You can see a big difference in product and in the way you are treated. The artists are more laid back while the vendors are extremely pushy and do everything they can to play on your emotions. Once in town, there's nothing to do. Well, you could grab a bite to eat, but that's about it really. A person we met on the cruise took an excursion that was supposed to take them to a locals trading post, a beautiful waterfall, a large beach, and a rum tasting establishment. The trading post ended up being a village in the jungle that was all residential and no trading, the waterfall was a trickle of water from one stream down a few feet of rocks into another smaller stream (not a big rushing waterfall as was advertized and pictured), at the beach they were told they could not swim, and at the rum tasting facility they were served a bit of rum that amounted to the volume of a thimble, when at least 4 full-sized shots of different flavored rum were what was advertized. They got their entire amount paid for the excursion completely refunded by the cruise line. Another couple had an "adventure" when their taxi driver ended up driving them past town and essentially kidnapped them by taking them to shops on the outskirts of town. They believed the driver did this because he was either paid to do so by the shops, or was some kind of underling involved in some kind of Dominican mob as he had to get permission from the shopkeepers before he could even LEAVE the shops. I will avoid any itinerary that stops in Samana and if I must take a cruise that will stop there, I will not step foot off the boat when we arrive there ever again. It is a disgusting, dirty, and very unfriendly place.
-Labadee: Your average cruise line "private island" experience. Just another spot for the line to squeeze a few more dollars out of your wallet. I had fun with the Dragons Trail alpine coaster. It is short but pretty rough and fun if you're real light with the brakes. I didn't do the zip-line but it was funny noticing how all the ladies who did do it, all seemed to "air out" their lady areas on the way across. I'm talking spread-eagle hilarity. The bar-b-cue was okay and they had a band that set up right at one of the eating shelters that played a song and then went on for 5 minutes trying to sell their CD and maracas, then played another song and then spent another 5 minutes trying to sell stuff again. It was more of a nuisance than entertainment. On one side the beaches are rocky but perfect for sunbathing, on the other side the beaches are sandy and the water wave-less. Great for getting a little swim in. There are trails you can walk if you feel more like a nature hike. They're all heavily shaded and mostly made of stone paths and they all lead to areas like overlooks, or gardens. The day was short and thankfully so, and afterward we were off to be at sea for a couple days. We got to see the Freedom pull away first (very cool to see while aboard a ship right next to it) and then we followed suit. Honestly, I could take or leave Labadee and my mother shares that sentiment.

-The dining room: As mentioned in the service section above, the service was okay. The food, on the best of nights, was average. The portions on this cruise were some of the smallest I've seen. The appetizers are like bites and the entrees are like appetizers. For example, one entree for a formal night meal was a seafood ravioli. My entree came out and it consisted of 5 (five) very thin and small ravioli in a seafood sauce. Not only were the portions small, the quality of the food was rather poor. Everything was absolutely loaded with salt. Nothing came out hot and you were lucky if it was even still warm. On the night where lobster tail was served, I had the disgusting pleasure of experiencing a mushy lobster. Everyone else that we talked to had lobster that was overcooked, tough, and generally flavorless. No escargot was served at any time during the cruise. I'm used to having escargot available every night aboard RCI ships and this cruise there was none. They tried to substitute bay scallops one night but they had a very metallic taste and just didn't go as well with the buttery garlic sauce and were not seen again for the rest of the cruise. Most of the nights I found myself not really wanting anything from the menu so I would end up choosing the item I felt I could probably actually eat. This has never been the case. I've been on cruises where I have such a hard time deciding what I want that the waiter just brings me a few of the entrees so I can try them all. A couple nights I ended up making meals out of multiple orders of appetizers. The desserts left much to be desired and were often more gross than appealing. There was NO creme brulee. There was no Tiramisu. There was sugar-free ice cream, ultra-sweet chocolate cake, a cappuccino cake (which was actually quite good), a lemon cheese cake, an attempt at flan, and a few fruit items. The one thing that was of consistent quality in the dining room was the iced tea. They kept it very strong, very fresh and very cold. The Thai shrimp dish was the only dish I would actually consider good with the pad Thai almost hitting the mark.
-Izumi: This place had great service and above average sushi. My mom got one of the hot rocks which is where they bring you a hot lava rock (500-or-so degrees Fahrenheit) with some raw meats and veggies of your choosing depending on how you order, and you cook your meal at the table. I found it to be a rather self-defeating concept for a restaurant to make you cook your own food but I suppose it's the experience that matters. I had the deluxe sushi platter and a spicy crunchy tuna roll. The fish on rice type sushi is very good and the particular roll I had was okay but very salty. I would definitely return to Izumi on my next cruise if it is available as it was a fairly decent value and had good quality offerings in general.
-Giovannis Table: Holy God. The portions that this place -- well let me clarify first, we came to this one for lunch not dinner. Everything with the exception of your main course is served family style which means it's placed in the middle of the table and you share it amongst the table. Two people dining at Giovannis Table are going to have an absolute feast as my mother and I found out. First each person can order up to 3 appetizers. Between me and my mother we could have had 6 but the waitress told us that it would be too much food for the two of us and we'd have no room for the pasta and main course. We took her word for it and decided to order 3. We got the Antipasti (Fantastic), the Frittura Mista which has fried calamari, shrimp, fish fillets, and zucchini (also fantastic), and some sort of eggplant dish which gave me instant heartburn but it was delicious. We weren't able to finish any of the three appetizers but we put a decent dent in all of them. Next came the pasta of which I ordered their mushroom risotto which was to die for, and my mom got something that resembled beef stroganoff but tasted like something completely different. Both were delicious but again we were unable to finish either. Next came the main course. I got a grilled shrimp dish with roasted stuffed tomatoes and my mom got a chicken dish with ricotta cheese and mushrooms. I actually was able to finish my main course and my mom came close to being able to finish hers. We both thought they were excellent. Then, the dessert cart came around. We both got the Zuppa Inglese which is layers of italian custard with brandy-infused berries and a traditional sponge, and the Tiramisu. Both desserts were heavenly. In addition to the food, the service was outstanding. Everything was done professionally and to a T. The waitress kept perfect pacing so that you never felt rushed nor did you ever feel like you were waiting for the next course too long. Overall it was a fantastic experience, with far more food than one could ever wish to eat for lunch.
-Chops Grille: We went to Chops Grille for dinner. I don't think I can do this place justice in this review as I feel I lack the descriptive vocabulary with witch to do so. Simply know this; You NEED to go to Chops Grille on your next cruise with Royal. Stop making excuses; it's not too expensive, it's not just better prepared dining room food, it's not just for special occasions. This is by far the best meal you will ever have on a cruise (at least with RCI) and dare I say it will rival your favorite place to eat on land if not blow it completely out of the water. Some suggestions: Dungeness crab and shrimp cake, sauteed green beans in butter sauce, steamed asparagus, Fried onion rings, and the full 10oz Filet Mignon. For dessert, their Creme Brulee is unbeatable and comes to your table covered in blue flame. The quality of service is right up there with the food and is the absolute pinnacle level of food service you can find.

-Pool Deck band: Your average RCI pool deck Caribbean band with a drummer, bass player, keyboardist and occasional vocalist. They were okay and did exactly what they were supposed to do. They play at a level that is loud enough to provide the right type of atmosphere but not so loud as to be intrusive. You can easily hold a conversation across a table for instance without having to yell or even raise your voice. Generally the talent is basic but this bass player was surely a fingermaster.
- Centrum Bands: There were a couple of cover bands that could be seen regularly in the centrum. One played mellow rock that spanned many decades with the drummer as the main vocalist. This guy could really sing and the band as a whole had a great smooth energy about them. The keyboardist was fun to watch. The other band seemed like a bit of a thrown together idea. The drummer always played too loud and used the ride cymbal at inappropriate times. It was like he was just tapping cymbals just to look like he was doing something. He seemed like one of those drummers that needs to have all the attention and he took a lot away from the whole ensemble in doing so. Pity really as the lead singer was good and even sang some traditional Italian songs.
-Schooner Bar Pianist: Usually these pianists are young, fun, and extremely talented and they'll bring the crowd into whatever they're doing. This was far from the case on this cruise. Remember back in elementary school how you would sometimes go to a music class and the music teacher (usually an older woman) would plunk away some simple chords on the piano and sing a song. Yeah, that's exactly what was happening on this cruise in the Schooner Bar, every night. One of our friends on the cruise believed that she may have been a lady of the red hat society who purchased her cruise ticket and then got permission from RCI to entertain guests in the Schooner bar by playing piano for them. There was nothing fun about it. No flirtatiousness, no joking, no audience involvement, no games, just a lady plunking away singing old-time tunes as if she were entertaining a nursing home. I guess it fit well seeing as though the ship was absolutely packed with guests aged over 70. This particularly threw me off as the Schooner bar is usually where I hang out at night and wind down before going to bed. It was impossible to do so on this cruise.
SHOWS: We didn't see many shows as they didn't really interest us, but the ones we did see, we enjoyed quite a bit. The Love and Marriage game show was entertaining as always especially since one of the female contestants gave the most bizarre answer I think I've ever heard. Nobody in the room got it and it was funny seeing her embarrassed reaction to the crowd being utterly confused. The Quest Game Show was fun but not quite as risque as previous cruises. The "beauty pageant" at the end made for a good photo op as always. The battle of the sexes was mildly entertaining but ended up being way to short and ended very abruptly. Tango Buenos Aires was fantastic! The special guest dancers were amazing and the whole show had a very sexy feel to it. The musicians for the show were outstanding, very professional and extremely talented. If you see one show on this ship, let it be Tango Buenos Aires. The centrum show was interesting. We caught the acrobats practicing all through the cruise and on the last night they put on a show that was quite dazzling yet somewhat clunky in execution. Overall it was entertaining and the music selections went well with the seasons that were represented in the show.

Disembarkation: Awful. Absolutely awful. Baltimore has got to be the lousiest port I have ever had the displeasure of visiting. Not only that, but when we arrived, the computer systems at customs suddenly went down and they stayed down for the entire disembarkation process. Everything had to be done by hand so the wait was beyond unreasonable. Our disembarkation group was 2 hours late being called to even get off the ship. Once we were off the ship, we were greeted with an extremely slow moving line through a thin gangway that zig-zagged its way down to ground level. Every few minutes a guest in a wheelchair and their entire entourage had to squeeze through to go ahead of the crowd (guests with wheelchairs were supposed to be the first off the ship) which just made everything worse and got under a lot of peoples skin. Tempers were flaring up and the entire experience has me going right back to DIY disembarkation from now on. Transport to the airport from the dock was easy to secure and cost around $30 by way of taxi which was much more reasonable than what RCI wanted for their shuttle service.

In Summary: This was a vacation experience where we felt like we needed a break after everything was said and done. We enjoyed ourselves for the most part and everything dealing with the ship itself was okay. Just the experience as a whole left much to be desired and was very different from anything we've ever experienced while cruising. Having just sailed on the Freedom of the Seas in August of 2012, we found it hard to believe how much of a difference there was in terms of standards of service, quality of food, entertainment, and upkeep. We have come to the conclusion that it must be the Grandeur itself and not all of RCI that is experiencing all of this. Even then, this was an odd cruise as it was a re-positioning cruise and there was a change of staff happening as well so perhaps the Grandeur isn't always this bad. It is hard to tell but it wasn't enough to ruin our vacation or turn us away from RCI. Not even close. We already have a transatlantic booked aboard the Independence of the Seas for the 4th of May 2014, 10th floor cabin 1234 and we cant wait! Perhaps we'll see you there! No matter what vessel you next board, happy sailing! Less

Published 05/07/13

Cabin review: N3125 Interior Stateroom

This cabin is the smallest we've ever had but we got it on a deal and it served its purpose as a place to sleep, bathe, and change. The beds were awful. They were hard (not mattress firm, but legitimately HARD). The adjoining room door, and certain pieces of furniture rattle constantly with the ships vibration. It's not very loud rattling mind you but it has the potential to keep a light sleeper from getting any good sleep. The bathroom stinks of mildew no matter how clean the attendant gets it. The smell seeps up through the drains. The bathroom is also tiny. You'll need to sit on the toilet diagonally as there is no room for your legs otherwise. For a cheap room it is as expected and we found it to be okay. Don't expect first class service down in steerage either. You'll be lucky if your room attendant even introduces themselves let alone address you by your names. You will, however, still get the cute little towel creatures :)

Read All Interior Stateroom (N) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Take the taxi tour because it brings you to the spots where most of the excursions go anyways for a fraction of the cost. Additionally, once you're at those spots there's not much to do except look around for a bit so it works out in the end. You're not there too long and you got to see what everyone else saw and then some. The Dockyard is a pretty happening spot.
Read 1192 Antigua Reviews

This review represents Samana (Dominican Republic) specifically. 1 star is giving this place too much credit. The locals are pushy. The town is dirty and boring. The excursions are absolute rip-offs. The ships should all skip this port. It is a terrible place.
Read 669 Dominica Reviews

Your average cruise line "private island" experience. Take it or leave it. The Dragons Trail coaster is fun but short. It's entertaining watching the zip liners (they all seem to like to "air it out"). Free barbecue is okay. Save your beach plunking day for this stop as there's not much else to do.
Read 1319 Labadee Reviews

Eh, it's pretty. Your best bet is to take a taxi and do an island tour. It's cheap and you'll learn some history.
Read 1321 St. Kitts Reviews

Majo Bay. Go there. Don't do any of the cruise line's shore excursions in St. Maarten. Go to Majo Bay instead, get something to eat at Sunset Bar (Grouper Fingers) and watch the airliners jetblast beach-goers as they take off, and capture some breathtaking video as they come in to land. Check it out on youtube and then GO. GO THERE.

Dont limit yourself on this island. This is not an island where you want to spend the whole day doing something stupid like snorkeling or riding a jetski. Take a taxi island tour and experience the history and beauty of Tortola. This island has so much to offer that ships should stop here for a couple days so people can really take it all in. The views from the mountaintops are some of the best in the Caribbean. The residents of Tortola are some of the most genuine nicest people you can find and the entire island has such a laid back atmosphere about it. Please don't get caught up doing one silly thing while you're here. Don't just plunk it on a beach. There is so much to see and learn while you are in Tortola.
Read 1240 Tortola Reviews

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