It's not like we are really old-old.....like scooters and walker old. My husband and I are in our mid-sixties and in the past have enjoyed Holland America cruise ships. We had never cruised with Royal Caribbean before, however, since the port of departure was Norfolk, only a few hours from our Virginia home, we decided to throw caution to the wind (and the seas) and try Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. We were pleasantly surprised.Midship is the Centrium with multi-decked openness and glass elevators. Vast, panoramic windows and lush seating, provides opportunities for reading, ocean-watching, and quiet conversation. It seemed to be a general meeting place prior to dinner and after shows.Our favorite part of the ship, however, was the Solarium. This glass enclosed area offers an abundance of lounge chairs, tables for a quick snack of pizza and hamburgers, and most of all it provides quietness. The adult-only swimming pool and hot tubs were not crowded and were a pleasant alternative for those of us not interested in the traditional family pool area with the loud music and predictable pool games.The food was continual.....from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. However, please note that the 24-hour room service is not fully complimentary. There is a small fee (less than $4.00) for service in the wee hours of the night/morning. However, my thought process is if you cannot sustain yourself with food for 21 out of 24 hours a day, you have some major eating issues anyway.Sometimes the quantity of food does not mean quality and this was the case on the Grandeur. I won't go into details of specific foods, but there was a definite blandness to many dishes in the Windjammer buffet. The Gatsby dining room menus were varied and tasty. I can't say enough good things about our waiters. They were the best we've had on any ship.Minor annoyances - no chocolates on my pillow at night! It's "cutting down expenses"...or so I hear. Another bother or waste of time was the port shopping talk by Cruise Director John. In order to receive "free" gifts in port, we were advised to purchase a $25.00 coupon book, (some cruise lines give these coupons away for free). i.e. Diamond International, Del Sol. etc. Supposedly, the $25.00 also enabled one to buy the drink-of-the-day a half price. Well, what a waste of drinking time. Someone waved a cork over two gallons of fruit juice and pronounced it a tropical drink of the day. The only thing that changed daily was the color of the juice and the name of the drink. I definiately think the cork was reused all nine days. The evening entertainment and shows were great fun and we looked forward each evening.This ship will be relocated to a Florida port soon and for that I am definitely disappointed.Samana, Dominican RepublicFirst of all you have to remember that the D.R. is third world country and desperately poor. I was very disappointed that Royal Caribbean did not provided any local information on Samana. No geographical information, no history of the area, and no local points of interest for those of us wanting to explore on our own. It was almost as though this port was an afterthought. I even went to the tour desk and asked for information on Samana. I was told the only information they had were for excursions. This meant that hundreds of people, unable to spend big bucks on excursions, were left to the mercy of gypsy cab drivers for varying fees and makeshift vehicles. Labadee, HaitiRoyal Caribbean owns a portion of land which they over glamourize as "paradise". It's nice, but saying it's paradise is a bit much. There are oodles of beach chairs. Two of the beach areas were small. The larger one was nicer but the ocean bottom was loaded with sharp coral which made walking tricky.
How many ways can I say tiny? We booked a "large" inside cabin. (I can't imagine what a smaller inside cabin might look like) The room was so small that in order for me to get to my side of the bed, I had to do a big belly flop at the foot of the bed and then wiggle over to the edge. There was no walking space on my side. Senior citizens should not do belly flops for any reason.
We didn't purchase a tour and thus spent three hot hours walking around old San Juan. However, we did save a ton of money~!
We purchased tickets ($18.00 each) to go on the skyride to Paradise Point. The Tramway cars take guests up the mountain for a magnificent view. Once you reach the top, there is a restaurant.....however, a hamburger is $10.00. (don't go looking for Value Meals there!) The gifts shops are about what one would expect, but don't miss the parrot show. Our tickets were good for the entire day if we wanted to return.A cab ride into the town was $4.00/per person, one way. Truly a good deal.