We embarked on this cruise one day late due to snow storm Jonas that dumped 30 inches of snow and delayed the return of the Grandeur to Baltimore by one day. The check-in process was very slow since so many of the staff could not get into work. From parking to getting on board took over 2 ½ hours.
Overall, we really enjoyed this cruise. The ship is smaller and older, but the renovations are great. Except for the bathroom modules in the cabins, very little reminded us of the our past cruise on the Grandeur in 2007. Here is our quick review:
Clean, bright, nice common areas and pools. On the nice days we really enjoyed being poolside. On the first and last sea days, we hung out in the Solarium. Be warned! The chair hogs were out in full force, so get there early for a seat.
The casino was pretty decent for a smaller ship, and after a $50 investment, we won enough to play the rest of the week for free.
The Centrum was the hub of the ship and most activities, and was a very beautiful space.
We thought the food at the main dining room was the best we ever had on a cruise. Our server Kumar was exceptional! He made every dinner a special occasion. We tried all three specialty restaurants and would not recommend any of them. At Izumi and Giovanni’s Table we felt pressured by the staff to purchase bottled water, wine, lobsters with an additional charge atop the cover and to sign up for special buffets, etc.
Izumi was good, but we were disappointed in the sushi choices, most was cooked. While we enjoyed it, we felt it was overpriced and the pressure from the staff was annoying.
At Chops, our steaks were great, but the main dining room offered the same filets for $10. The desserts at Chops were very disappointing.
Giovanni’s Table was the worst of the three. Our dinners were good, but not great, the dessert choices were weak and the constant pressure to purchase lobster or a bottle of wine spoiled our last dinner at sea.
We had an outside cabin on deck three. It was fine. Horace, our cabin steward did a good job. Our room was always clean. I did ask Horace to remove the mini bar, which he said he could not do. With the limited space on the dressing table, the room taken up by the mini bar was a nuisance. The bathroom is fine for us, but pretty small. The shower curtain was a little bothersome.
Our big complaint with the room was the bed. The mattress reminded us of a cheap futon mattress. After a few days, we both had sore backs. You could see how they were broken down in the middle.
No complaints here, a pretty friendly bunch.
Ports of Call
Our itinerary was changed from four ports to three as a result of the snow storm. So we ended up going to Labadee Haiti, San Juan and St. Thomas.
This was our first visit to Labadee and we loved it! A beautiful place! We found a nice spot on Nellies Beach which was awesome. I will say this; many people were upset when the blue shade clams were set up in front of folks that didn't invest the $100 or so for a shade. It really blocked the view of the bay for many folks that had clams set up in front of their spots. I would say that the beach at Adventure Beach would probably be a better bet with fewer clams.
The lunch was nice and we had a great day!
Next was San Juan. We got off the ship and spent over 4 hours exploring Old San Juan. We stopped in a few bars (including the home of the Pina Colada) and grabbed a bite at The Bodega. Their tapas and 2 for $10 mojitos were awesome!
Finally, St. Thomas. We took an excursion to Magen’s Bay Beach. It was our second visit and we really enjoyed it. We were visited by a few iguanas and ferrets! But it was a beautiful day. As we were the only ship in port, it was not crowded at all!
This was our biggest disappointment. Granted, this was an older demographic, but regardless, the entertainment was really bad. Rather than going into details, I will say, we found ourselves watching Karaoke as opposed to the on board entertainment. It was basically the usual stuff (Sweet Caroline, My Heart Will Go On, New York, New York, My Way) but poorly done. The production shows were not much better.
The Centrum entertainment was mostly waltz style music, or a poor knock off of Cirque Du Soleil. It wasn't hard to find a lot of people falling asleep during these shows.
A very nice cruse, but if we ever do this one again, it would only be in the summer when we could spend all of the sea days outside so that we wouldn’t need the entertainment.