We were first time cruisers (just my husband and I, in our 50's) and chose the Grandeur of the Seas as a smaller ship so as not to be too overwhelmed and allow us the opportunity to really explore our ship, get to know the cruising procedures (embarkation, ship familiarization, amenities, dining/food, etc.)
The ship was fabulous for a first time cruise however I do think it was a bit on the smaller side and next time look forward to travelling on a larger ship with more amenities (more dining options and more entertainment). The service was AMAZING throughout our entire voyage in all aspects
The cabin: A couple of thoughts on this...First, we booked a cabin that was right off the Centrum on the 4th floor right near the center of the ship (#4572). This was a perfect location for us as I have some difficulty getting around so the close proximity to everything was ideal. In addition, we quickly found that there are many activities that take place in the Centrum in which people arrive hours ahead of time to get the few seats that are there. With our room being so close, we were able to bring extra seating from our room which worked out perfectly. Also, although we did not hit any stormy weather, we did hear multiple reports from passengers claiming that rough water had made their cabins toward the front of the ship very difficult to endure. With our location, we could barely tell there were rough waters at all.
Dining: We ate primarily in the main dining room for dinners and all meals were excellent. The cold fruit soup was absolutely amazing! We did dine one night at Chop's Grill which was 100% worth the additional cost for a lovely dining experience with food that was even better than the main dining room (I didn't think that was possible as all meals had really been fantastic). We didn't eat any dinners at the Windjammer but this was our choice for most breakfasts as there was more leeway with time (didn't have to be up so early as you did with the main dining room). The Windjammer always had a large selection but usually the same each day. The omelet station was fantastic and they prepared not only omelets, but any kind of eggs prepared fresh to your personal liking. On days when we had to be up really early for excursions - we ordered breakfast the night before from room service that was delivered right to our room. The room service breakfast was always right on time, always fresh and really made it quite convenient while preparing for a day ashore.
Entertainment: The entertainment was always very well done however there was limited forms of entertainment on the Grandeur of the Seas compared to some of the bigger ships.
Ports and Excursions: I do want to say that every port/excursion we encountered, Royal Caribbean seemed to have the process down pat with very efficient process, excellent service and assistant and all-around a very pleasant experience. Here's a few thoughts on the individual excursions:
Our first stop was Labadee: Labadee was a beautiful island and our day was almost perfect except for one thing we didn't know about. Some of the beaches there are VERY rocky. We had heard something about this and thought that we picked a beautiful non-rocky beach (again because I have some significant problems with my legs and feet). What we didn't know was that the rocks weren't on the beach but under the water and as I started to walk out into the water all of a sudden I stepped on sharp rocks that instantly brought me down. We then found that most of the beach around us was so rocky in the water that I couldn't go in. So, you might want to do some homework ahead of time if that could be an issue with you - to find the beaches that are not as rocky and more swimmable. Otherwise, it was a gorgeous island and they offer several spots where RC provides an outdoor barbeque lunch. Attendants also come around taking orders for tropical cocktails (although be prepared for the additional cost unless you have the drink package). You can rent loungers, umbrellas or 2 person sun shelters, and even floats.
Next stop was San Juan: Again, another perfect stop. We had about 10 hours in San Juan. Our first stop was to visit a really interesting salon/spa that offered massages and served wine/sangria or personal cocktails as well. The salon is about a 15 minute walk from the ships dock and hubby and I started the day each with a one-hour massage that was FAR cheaper than the spa services on the ship and in my mind, just as good if not better. After our massage & cocktail, we then ventured all around the city visiting shops and restaurants. In the middle of town near the university we ran into an outdoor concert area with music and spent time enjoying some of the local bands and music. From there, we made our way back to the ship just wandering through the streets of San Juan, in and out of stores - taking in the sights and finally dining at Senor Frogs almost across the street from the ship dock. After dinner, we enjoyed a lovely stroll along the waterfront before making our way back on board.
St. Thomas was next and we chose to take a paid excursion through offered through RC - Turtle Bay Sail & Snorkel Adventure - ST97. This was fantastic! It was a Pirate Ship inspired sailing to a remote island where you swam/snorkled with the Sea Turtles and other marine life. Afterwards the crew provided endless Rum Punch drinks, entertainment and just general overall fun. What a great day! Well worth the cost.
Philipsburg, St. Martin: On St. Martin we did some research ahead of time and decided against any of the specific excursions to help cut down on costs a little. We knew that right at the ships dock you can catch the water ferry which will take you across the Harbor to Great Bay Beach or it is only a very short 15 minute walk from the ships port. Great Bay Beach has a beautiful white sandy beach. For $15 a day you can easily rent a lounger/umbrella and a bucket of 5 beers. Right behind the beach is a boardwalk with lots of different restaurants and souvenir shops and then if you go through any of the alleys to the street behind, you will find all kinds of stores/boutiques, etc. Great way to spend the day!
That pretty much sums up our first cruise. We had a wonderful time and would definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again.
1. We read about the high cost of the drink packages and even the ones that included bottled water. We heard a tip and thought we would give it a try. We brought a case of bottled water and just put a luggage tag on it (the Royal Caribbean kind with your room #) and just checked in it with our luggage and hoped for the best. Sure enough, it arrived at our room with the rest of the luggage. So I wanted to pass that tip on.
2. Cabins are very small and you will find the bed is very low to the ground. As soon as you get to your room, you can ask your room attendant for bed risers (it's important to do this as early as possible). The bed-rises raise the bed so that it is more comfortable to get in and out of but even more important is that it gives you tons of extra storage room under the bed to store suitcases, shoes, bottled water, dirty clothes bag and more.
3. Embarkation: We departed from Baltimore, MD. Great experience! Moved quickly. We stayed at the Best Western and they have a Stay and Park Package. Rate was $135 but included parking for the whole 10 days. In addition, they take you to the ship and pick you up which is also included in the cost. Well worth the price.
Perfect location, just 2 cabins away from Centrum. Never heard any noise but when all the seats where taken in the Centrum, we could bring extra seating from our cabin. Being right in the center of the ship was perfect for "stability" as many passengers towards the front of the ship had complaints during rough seas while we barely felt anything at all.
Beautiful island. Several different "spots" or beaches to choose on each side of the island. The beaches on the left side as you walk up the island are more "ocean" front with more waves but you can also view the zip lines. The beaches on the right side as you walk are more in a sheltered cove, with calmer waters but you can not watch the zip-lines. Some of the beaches are very rocky (under the water, you can't tell from the beach) and almost unswimmable. It would be nice if somewhere they let you know this. Lunch BBQ was provided free of charge. Plenty of food and choice.
We went out on our own. You don't need to take an expensive excursion in San Juan at there is so much to do and see just steps away from the port/pier.
We booked through RC the Turtle Bay Sail & Snorkel Adventure - ST97. What a fantastic experience. A pirate themed sailboat ride out to a private island where you snorkel/swim with the sea turtles and other marine life for about an hour with instruction. Then once back on board there were endless Rum Punch Cocktails, snacks and good times for all put on by the crew. Excellent crew. Great time! Couldn't ask for anything better!View All 30 Sailing Reviews
We booked through RC the Turtle Bay Sail & Snorkel Adventure - ST97. What a fantastic experience. A pirate themed sailboat ride out to a private island where you snorkel/swim with the sea turtles and other marine life for about an hour with instruction. Then once back on board there were endless Rum Punch Cocktails, snacks and good times for all put on by the crew. Excellent crew. Great time! Couldn't ask for anything better!View All 369 Snorkeling Reviews
We booked through RC the Turtle Bay Sail & Snorkel Adventure - ST97. What a fantastic experience. A pirate themed sailboat ride out to a private island where you snorkel/swim with the sea turtles and other marine life for about an hour with instruction. Then once back on board there were endless Rum Punch Cocktails, snacks and good times for all put on by the crew. Excellent crew. Great time! Couldn't ask for anything better!View All 92 Turtle Swim Reviews
We went on our own to Great Bay Beach which is about a 15 minute walk or you can take the water taxi right from the ships pier. Beautiful beach, boardwalk, shopping, restaurants and everything you could want for a perfect day.