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Family travel - My husband and myself, our three grown children and their spouses, and six grandchildren, ages 24, 23, 22, 18, 16, and 12. After driving to Norfolk, VA, we spent the night at the Marriott Waterside, a beautiful hotel in walking distance of the harbor. We arrived at the port around 11:30am, dropped luggage and I waited at the cruise center while my husband went to park. About 45 minutes later, he arrived from Cedar Grove parking lot, 14 blocks away. It seems they don't separate the cars coming in to park only from the ones dropping luggage, so you wait in line behind those without the right change, the ones with charge cards (we were told it was cash only), and the ones who had not even put on their luggage tags! At the new Half Moone Cruise Center, embarkation was uneventful and easy after online completion of sea pass information. We were told 1pm for cabins, so we proceeded to Windjammer Cafe for lunch. What a zoo - people wandered the food stations with no direction and no clue. People came at you from every direction; enough to rattle the strongest traveler. After recent trips with Holland America and Celebrity, we were quite unprepared. We were not impressed and wondered how sanitary it was with all those hands, including many children, dipping in. We became increasingly aware that they do not provide hand sanitizing stations like we have found on other lines, not even at the dining rooms or the gangway after a day in port. We felt this was irresponsible, considering the number of recent illnesses on ships. We went to our balcony cabin on deck 7 at 1:30pm and our luggage arrived around 2:30pm. We were fortunate - others were still waiting at 5:30pm. Room steward, Al, popped in to introduce himself - he gave us fantastic service. No surprises in the cabin - nice balcony w/ 2 chairs & table. Very good storage for clothing & "stuff". Bathroom smelled pretty bad - drat, forgot my 'stick-up'. Other family members on deck 4 said there was a strong mildew smell as you went from the public areas to the cabin hall. It was obvious there had been a water problem, they replaced some carpet in public area while in port at Bermuda. Lifeboat drill at 4:30 and sailed on time at 5pm. There were plenty of sail away activities; the ship is beautifully decorated and once people got into their cabins and settled down, the crowds were excessive only in the Windjammer Cafe. The solarium is beautiful w/ pool for age 16+ and grill w/hamburgers, fries, etc. Our 12 year-old was disappointed; the rock climbing wall was not open the 1st 2 days due to excessive winds (understandable, of course). In port, time slots were few and personnel not available. Last day, openings for 12 year-olds were limited - competitions for adults?? With this not available, arcade was about it. He ran up a $70 bill before his parents realized that this activity was not blocked on his sea pass because it was a 'leased activity'. Does this mean he could have also purchased Ben & Jerry's ice cream? We're not sure 'cause he didn't try. Dining in the Great Gatsby dining room was impressive. The food variety and quality was good; our waiter, Robert, and assistant, Margaret, were excellent. We resolved to spend much time in this place rather than Windjammer. We found lounges and special food spots everywhere. Entertainment was fair; we did enjoy Dockyard Festival put on by Grandeur on shore; street festival atmosphere w/local craft booths, a stage for music and a performance by Mark Angelo, a very funny comedian/juggler. The 1st night production number was only fair (no orchestra), so we skipped the 2nd one - mistake, everyone said it was great music from the the 70's, 80's, and 90's! Maybe they should reverse these two, with the good one first to bring folks back. We lucked out - the original Rhondells, a beach music group from the 60's, were cruising w/a group of fans and did a public performance the last evening. They were terrific and the dance floor stayed full. Viking Crown lounge was hopping every night for the young (and young at heart) adults. We arrived on time in Bermuda and disembarked easily. The first day, some of us took the ferry to meet a Bermudian friend at the Botanical Gardens which were gorgeous. Our friend gave us a first class tour with lots of information about the island life in general. Cost of living is very high w/ $8 gasoline and $4 loaf of bread. Their rain water collection system, using terraced roofing and underground storage tanks, was fascinating. Some of our group took an excursion to a beach for snuba (a cross between snorkeling and scuba), kayaks, paddle boats, and other water toys. It was enjoyed immensely. Later, 12 of our 14 went out on jet skis from Sea Venture, in Southhampton Parish (booked online but not through cruise line). This met with approval of all, saying the guides were very good. Those going should know that there is a regulation saying only 10 people per guide, so 2 members of our group went with a different guide. The second port day some of us took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING! The water is turquoise and clear right to bottom, sand really is pink (from bits of red coral) but not hot to touch; the rocks are beautiful, and there are life guards. Be sure to walk to the far end and go through the rocks to the other side . . crashing waves on the rocks, so pretty. Prettiest beach ever - better than Hawaii. The facilities were fair, not the cleanest. Caution: be sure to check your umbrella for working parts. Ours did not work well, but because we didn't take it back as soon as we realized that (it was a long walk), we lost our deposit - they said we brought it back broken! Chair rental was $10 + $5 deposit per chair and umbrella the same. You put up your own umbrella. It is a pretty long walk up a steep hill to the bus, but there is usually a fellow with a van who will take you to the top for $1 a head - best money I spent all day! We did not eat there, so cannot speak to that. My recommendation, bring a piece of fruit and bottle of water from the ship. We found buses and ferries to be the best mode of transportation. You can get a pass (on the ship) for $12 (one day) or $20 (two day) which covers all buses and ferries. Service is excellent with buses running about every 15 minutes and ferries departing about every 30 minutes. That said, you will need plenty of time - lots of stops take up lots of time, so it may take longer to reach your destination than you thought. Be sure to look around, the bus is like a tour if you sit near the driver and ask questions. Meet some locals - they love bragging on their country. Children are polite and courteous and were observed giving up their seat on the bus for an elderly person. Three of our group left Horseshoe Bay Beach a little late and only with the help of the $1 van and the city bus did they make it back (10 minutes before sailing)! The city bus actually brought them, and others in similar situation, all the way to the dock, far beyond their usual stop! We all found the Bermudian people to be extremely friendly and helpful. Haley, Robert and Abigail, employees at the Front Desk, were very helpful and friendly. Haley, particularly, helped us with a wine order situation and also with several other questions along the way. Our shore excursions were booked online, so we had no experience with the excursion staff on board. The staff in the photo shop were not very helpful but our party of 14 purchased about $200 anyway. I guess they knew that. Three of our group used the spa; hair salon and massage were good experiences. The 'gym' was very small and crowded, w/ people waiting in line for machines. We took advantage of the "carry your own luggage" deal and walked off the ship about 7:30am. By 8:00am we were in our car, leaving the parking lot. But, we'll be back, hopefully soon!! We rate the overall experience Excellent and recommend the Grandeur of the Seas.

Cruisin' With Family

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review by Duneside

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2008
  • Destination: Bermuda
Family travel - My husband and myself, our three grown children and their spouses, and six grandchildren, ages 24, 23, 22, 18, 16, and 12.
After driving to Norfolk, VA, we spent the night at the Marriott Waterside, a beautiful hotel in walking distance of the harbor. We arrived at the port around 11:30am, dropped luggage and I waited at the cruise center while my husband went to park. About 45 minutes later, he arrived from Cedar Grove parking lot, 14 blocks away. It seems they don't separate the cars coming in to park only from the ones dropping luggage, so you wait in line behind those without the right change, the ones with charge cards (we were told it was cash only), and the ones who had not even put on their luggage tags! At the new Half Moone Cruise Center, embarkation was uneventful and easy after online completion of sea pass information.
We were told 1pm for cabins, so we proceeded to Windjammer Cafe for lunch. What a zoo - people wandered the food stations with no direction and no clue. People came at you from every direction; enough to rattle the strongest traveler. After recent trips with Holland America and Celebrity, we were quite unprepared. We were not impressed and wondered how sanitary it was with all those hands, including many children, dipping in. We became increasingly aware that they do not provide hand sanitizing stations like we have found on other lines, not even at the dining rooms or the gangway after a day in port. We felt this was irresponsible, considering the number of recent illnesses on ships.
We went to our balcony cabin on deck 7 at 1:30pm and our luggage arrived around 2:30pm. We were fortunate - others were still waiting at 5:30pm. Room steward, Al, popped in to introduce himself - he gave us fantastic service. No surprises in the cabin - nice balcony w/ 2 chairs & table. Very good storage for clothing & "stuff". Bathroom smelled pretty bad - drat, forgot my 'stick-up'. Other family members on deck 4 said there was a strong mildew smell as you went from the public areas to the cabin hall. It was obvious there had been a water problem, they replaced some carpet in public area while in port at Bermuda.
Lifeboat drill at 4:30 and sailed on time at 5pm. There were plenty of sail away activities; the ship is beautifully decorated and once people got into their cabins and settled down, the crowds were excessive only in the Windjammer Cafe. The solarium is beautiful w/ pool for age 16+ and grill w/hamburgers, fries, etc.
Our 12 year-old was disappointed; the rock climbing wall was not open the 1st 2 days due to excessive winds (understandable, of course). In port, time slots were few and personnel not available. Last day, openings for 12 year-olds were limited - competitions for adults?? With this not available, arcade was about it. He ran up a $70 bill before his parents realized that this activity was not blocked on his sea pass because it was a 'leased activity'. Does this mean he could have also purchased Ben & Jerry's ice cream? We're not sure 'cause he didn't try.
Dining in the Great Gatsby dining room was impressive. The food variety and quality was good; our waiter, Robert, and assistant, Margaret, were excellent. We resolved to spend much time in this place rather than Windjammer. We found lounges and special food spots everywhere. Entertainment was fair; we did enjoy Dockyard Festival put on by Grandeur on shore; street festival atmosphere w/local craft booths, a stage for music and a performance by Mark Angelo, a very funny comedian/juggler. The 1st night production number was only fair (no orchestra), so we skipped the 2nd one - mistake, everyone said it was great music from the the 70's, 80's, and 90's! Maybe they should reverse these two, with the good one first to bring folks back. We lucked out - the original Rhondells, a beach music group from the 60's, were cruising w/a group of fans and did a public performance the last evening. They were terrific and the dance floor stayed full. Viking Crown lounge was hopping every night for the young (and young at heart) adults.
We arrived on time in Bermuda and disembarked easily. The first day, some of us took the ferry to meet a Bermudian friend at the Botanical Gardens which were gorgeous. Our friend gave us a first class tour with lots of information about the island life in general. Cost of living is very high w/ $8 gasoline and $4 loaf of bread. Their rain water collection system, using terraced roofing and underground storage tanks, was fascinating. Some of our group took an excursion to a beach for snuba (a cross between snorkeling and scuba), kayaks, paddle boats, and other water toys. It was enjoyed immensely. Later, 12 of our 14 went out on jet skis from Sea Venture, in Southhampton Parish (booked online but not through cruise line). This met with approval of all, saying the guides were very good. Those going should know that there is a regulation saying only 10 people per guide, so 2 members of our group went with a different guide.
The second port day some of us took the bus to Horseshoe Bay Beach. ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING! The water is turquoise and clear right to bottom, sand really is pink (from bits of red coral) but not hot to touch; the rocks are beautiful, and there are life guards. Be sure to walk to the far end and go through the rocks to the other side . . crashing waves on the rocks, so pretty. Prettiest beach ever - better than Hawaii. The facilities were fair, not the cleanest. Caution: be sure to check your umbrella for working parts. Ours did not work well, but because we didn't take it back as soon as we realized that (it was a long walk), we lost our deposit - they said we brought it back broken! Chair rental was $10 + $5 deposit per chair and umbrella the same. You put up your own umbrella. It is a pretty long walk up a steep hill to the bus, but there is usually a fellow with a van who will take you to the top for $1 a head - best money I spent all day! We did not eat there, so cannot speak to that. My recommendation, bring a piece of fruit and bottle of water from the ship.
We found buses and ferries to be the best mode of transportation. You can get a pass (on the ship) for $12 (one day) or $20 (two day) which covers all buses and ferries. Service is excellent with buses running about every 15 minutes and ferries departing about every 30 minutes. That said, you will need plenty of time - lots of stops take up lots of time, so it may take longer to reach your destination than you thought. Be sure to look around, the bus is like a tour if you sit near the driver and ask questions. Meet some locals - they love bragging on their country. Children are polite and courteous and were observed giving up their seat on the bus for an elderly person.
Three of our group left Horseshoe Bay Beach a little late and only with the help of the $1 van and the city bus did they make it back (10 minutes before sailing)! The city bus actually brought them, and others in similar situation, all the way to the dock, far beyond their usual stop! We all found the Bermudian people to be extremely friendly and helpful.
Haley, Robert and Abigail, employees at the Front Desk, were very helpful and friendly. Haley, particularly, helped us with a wine order situation and also with several other questions along the way. Our shore excursions were booked online, so we had no experience with the excursion staff on board. The staff in the photo shop were not very helpful but our party of 14 purchased about $200 anyway. I guess they knew that. Three of our group used the spa; hair salon and massage were good experiences. The 'gym' was very small and crowded, w/ people waiting in line for machines.
We took advantage of the "carry your own luggage" deal and walked off the ship about 7:30am. By 8:00am we were in our car, leaving the parking lot. But, we'll be back, hopefully soon!! We rate the overall experience Excellent and recommend the Grandeur of the Seas.
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