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As a point of reference: this is our first on Grandeur, second out of Baltimore, first out of Baltimore in winter. We have 21 sailings under our belt with four cruise lines, and hit Diamond status on Royal with this trip. We booked it because it was an easy drive to the port, scandalously inexpensive – under $70 per person per day for our interior cabin – and because it allowed us to visit Charleston SC and Port Canaveral as ports of call (we’d used PC twice as a departure port), along with Freeport, Nassau, and Cococay, Bahamas. Embarkation: oh, Baltimore, how I love thee for thy ease of embarkation. We ended up arriving an hour earlier than we planned due to a work obligation prior, at 10:30 am. We could see folks still leaving from the last cruise, but we were quickly processed and moved into the ‘VIP’ waiting area. We noted that the ‘general’ waiting area was quickly filling up . . . so much so that they started having to put non ‘VIPs’ in the VIP area, but organized in such a way that they knew who would go where. One Platinum cruiser was miffed that a sizeable group from the ‘general’ area was led aboard before us – but, to my untrained eyes, it looked like a sizeable group of individuals with disabilities, and besides: really? We went from the parking lot to the Windjammer deck in an hour. In.One.Hour. Brilliant! Hint #1: they are now doing ‘carry-on storage’ in the South Pacific lounge. You can leave your stuffs there and roam freely until they open access to the cabins at 1 pm – but you do have to go back and get said stuffs. Hint #2: Park Nine, the snackery area tucked in a corner of the Solarium, has a lovely and (mostly) healthy selection of eats. Way easier to deal with than the Windjammer. Fruit cups on demand, practically. Ship in general: Overall, you can tell the ship’s due for a refurb – stains here and there, a table in our cabin that’d seen better days – but almost nothing that made us question the safety or cleanliness of the ship. She’s aging well for turning 21 later this year. This is our first time in this Royal class of ship, so we’re used to everything – or so we thought. It’s been eight years since we’ve been in anything smaller than Freedom Class (with some time spent on Celebrity, Carnival, and Holland America in the interim). The use of the Centrum as an entertainment/active performance space took us by surprise . . . as it was not originally designed as such, it does make for traffic management issues if you need to traverse any part of it for anything on either side. I also felt sorry for anyone with cabins relatively nearby if they wanted to make an early night of it. The mix of passengers on this nine-day sailing was all over the map, although we’d guess the vast majority were older than 40, with the exception of the 30 or so kids under 12 travelling with their parents (more on that later). Given the aforementioned group, it was no surprise that there seemed to be lots more mobility movement machines (scooters, etc) but then again: it was a nine day sailing out of Baltimore in February. That might also explain the schizophrenic music selections on the ship. In the Solarium: muzak versions of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s hits. The Rosario Strings (all two of them – a violinist and a guitarist): Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Nexus 4 – The Love Boat, followed by Adele (although, to be fair, they were led by a woman with some serious pipes). Mega 4, the poolside band, was more island-friendly – although we didn’t spend much time there (see below). Sailing from a cold place to a warm place, on a ship where the large pool does not have a roof and there is no ‘kids zone’ for the young ones, creates some challenges. Royal solved this by relaxing the ‘no kids in the Solarium’ rule until we got to/passed back by Florida and by designating two of the four whirlpools in the main pool area as for children only for the entire cruise -- effectively tagging the main pool as the kids zone. Now, last time I checked, kids shouldn’t even be in hot tubs without parents; shouldn’t be in there unless they can stand up on the bottom and be heads and shoulders above the water; and shouldn’t be in there for more than 5 minutes at any time. We spotted kids in life vests (yes, Royal now offers on board personal flotation devices for kids, along with a “Pool Watch” staffer in a safety yellow vest, presumably because of what happen on Anthem last summer) in the whirlpools, kids turning into prunes in the whirlpools, no adults to be seen beside them . . . it’s almost as if the addition of the life vests and staff observation has made parents more lax about supervision around the pools rather than more vigilant. This became even more problematic when a adverse weather system necessitated an earlier arrival than planned in Baltimore. We entered the Chesapeake Bay – essentially ending all ‘revenue resources,’ like shops and the casino – at 1 pm the day before disembarkation. We avoided the packed Solarium as a result. The Windjammer always had yummy things to eat. Breakfast offerings were pretty standard, but there was plenty of it. We often had lunch at Park Nine, but did venture in Windjammer for early dinner snacks and were never disappointed by the variety of dishes. We didn’t do the specialty restaurants, so can’t comment on that. Dinner in the Great Gatsby was terrific. We had late traditional dining at a six-top with an older couple (who we never saw after the first night) and a couple closer to our age who, as it turned out, only lived a couple hours away from us on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Made and Nina, our serving team, were spectacular – I caught a cold during the trip and once they realized I was forgoing my wine for tea to combat it, made sure to bring me tea with lemon and honey every night. We did have a couple of stumbles involving my husband’s odd but deathly food allergies, but they were resolved quickly with no harm done. Ship staff was uniformly friendly and polite, and believe me when I say some folks gave them good reason not to be. It was a little weird starting the cruise with one (acting) Cruise Director, and ending with another (permanent but returning from a conference) Cruise Director. I never realized how much the CD’s personality and demeanor affected the overall feeling of the cruise experience until this sailing. I can’t quantify how it was different, but it was. We also pre-purchased the Voom surf/stream package for 1 device and shared it – along with a 30% discount, it forced us to log off when done so the other could check email and such (we don’t have international roaming on our regional carrier cell phones). This is not a complaint: it made sure we weren’t buried in our electronic devices 24-7! Cabin: 3071, standard interior. Sadly, it seemed our cabin did not receive the new bedding others have reported – the mattress and pillows have seen better days. I prefer a firmer sleeping surface, but husband had no issues with it. (Bonus: flatter pillows = easier to meld around your ears when husband’s snoring peaks.) The flat screen TV had an arm that pivoted it for better viewing from the desk or bed. You will still struggle with the lack of outlets, but if you purchase a couple of 230/110 converters, you can use the ‘european’ power outlets, thereby doubling your electric functionality. When we arrived, the bathroom was overwhelmed with a mildewy smell. We asked our cabin steward, Ien, to replace the shower curtain (no curved glass walls). Voila! Smell removed. I liked the extra storage in the bathroom – it came in handy. One oddity: the water in the bathroom sink was noticeably cloudy. It didn’t taste bad, but it’s the first time we took notice of potability challenges; it’s probably why there was complimentary bottled water in the cabin. Also, if this is important to you: there are no mini-fridges in standard interior cabins on Grandeur. We asked for an ice bucket and received one missing a lid – our steward said he’d get a replacement, but one never materialized (despite his attentive replenishment of the ice itself). Another oddity: random things magically appearing or disappearing in the cabin. The first night, a door handle was sitting on our ice bucket tray (not from our room, apparently). It went away after a day or so. A couple-three days later: a plate of cookies awaited us. No note as to why. We presumed it was a Crown and Anchor Society gift. Third oddity: we appreciated the towel animals awaiting us . . . although we only received four during our cruise. One we’re still trying to figure out what it was supposed to be. Disembarkation: about as painless as you could ask for. Kudos to the Intercruises staff that assisted us after husband took a header just outside of customs clearance (his fault, not theirs) – they couldn’t have been any kinder or more helpful. All in all: nice ship, will be nicer post-dry-dock. Love Royal, but wish they could place a ship here with more enclosed pool spaces. Love Baltimore, but will probably sail during warmer months to avoid the cold weather issues. Ports of Call: Charleston – used “Free Tours by Foot” for an entertaining and an informative two hour walking tour of the historic district. Scott was worth every penny we decided to pay him. Afterwards, we walked to the Market and wandered through the shops. Port Canaveral – we visited Brevard Zoo, a delightful little community based zoo that’s doing a lot with a little. A couple of displays could use some larger accommodations and/or a second animal in the enclosure – one or two seemed to be exhibiting boredom-flagging behavior like pacing. However, given the price point, it was a great way to avoid the Kennedy Space Center/Orlando crowds. Note: Lyft charges a surcharge to pick up and drop off at the port . . . which we got charged twice for coming back because our driver took the wrong exit and ended up north of our ship, so he had to double back. Boo. Freeport: we visited Lucayan National Park, booked through Viator and a third-party tour company (H Forbes). Leonard, our driver/tour guide, was friendly, efficient, full of interesting facts, and compassionate – he stopped at a taxi that had broken down with four of our fellow cruise mates on the side of the road, and gave them a lift to the park while the taxi driver got things squared away. The lunch at Bahama Bay restaurant, just down the road from the Viva Wyndham resort, was yummy. I will say this: the bus in which we rode was in need of a good cleaning. Not so grimy as to be unhealthy, but it was noticeably in need of scrubbing (especially the floor and ceiling). Nassau: we’ve been here so many times, we decided to wing it. We cabbed it to Ardastra Gardens (still struggling with post-Matthew renovations), then walked to Fort Charlotte/Stanley/D’Arcy and over to the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. The forts are now charging a nominal ($1.08) admissions fee, but well worth it to see the interpretive displays they’ve added as a result. We then headed to Junkanoo Beach for a little quality time with seashore until we returned to the ship for dinner and bed. (We were in port until 11:30 pm, which seemed a little out of place on a ship where there weren’t enough partiers to keep Senor Frog’s, Hard Rock Café, AND Sharkee’s going, but who are we to say.) Good thing we didn’t pass up Junkanoo, because . . . Cococay was cancelled due to high swells and wind gusts. Boo. That left us with three sea days to burn, which was probably one day too much for me and my husband. (Well, okay, more like 2.5 days because of the expedited return, but you get the idea.)

The Cruise that Made Us Go Hmmm....

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review by nodumblond

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2017
  • Destination: Bahamas
As a point of reference: this is our first on Grandeur, second out of Baltimore, first out of Baltimore in winter. We have 21 sailings under our belt with four cruise lines, and hit Diamond status on Royal with this trip. We booked it because it was an easy drive to the port, scandalously inexpensive – under $70 per person per day for our interior cabin – and because it allowed us to visit Charleston SC and Port Canaveral as ports of call (we’d used PC twice as a departure port), along with Freeport, Nassau, and Cococay, Bahamas.

Embarkation: oh, Baltimore, how I love thee for thy ease of embarkation. We ended up arriving an hour earlier than we planned due to a work obligation prior, at 10:30 am. We could see folks still leaving from the last cruise, but we were quickly processed and moved into the ‘VIP’ waiting area. We noted that the ‘general’ waiting area was quickly filling up . . . so much so that they started having to put non ‘VIPs’ in the VIP area, but organized in such a way that they knew who would go where. One Platinum cruiser was miffed that a sizeable group from the ‘general’ area was led aboard before us – but, to my untrained eyes, it looked like a sizeable group of individuals with disabilities, and besides: really? We went from the parking lot to the Windjammer deck in an hour. In.One.Hour. Brilliant!

Hint #1: they are now doing ‘carry-on storage’ in the South Pacific lounge. You can leave your stuffs there and roam freely until they open access to the cabins at 1 pm – but you do have to go back and get said stuffs.

Hint #2: Park Nine, the snackery area tucked in a corner of the Solarium, has a lovely and (mostly) healthy selection of eats. Way easier to deal with than the Windjammer. Fruit cups on demand, practically.

Ship in general: Overall, you can tell the ship’s due for a refurb – stains here and there, a table in our cabin that’d seen better days – but almost nothing that made us question the safety or cleanliness of the ship. She’s aging well for turning 21 later this year.

This is our first time in this Royal class of ship, so we’re used to everything – or so we thought. It’s been eight years since we’ve been in anything smaller than Freedom Class (with some time spent on Celebrity, Carnival, and Holland America in the interim). The use of the Centrum as an entertainment/active performance space took us by surprise . . . as it was not originally designed as such, it does make for traffic management issues if you need to traverse any part of it for anything on either side. I also felt sorry for anyone with cabins relatively nearby if they wanted to make an early night of it.

The mix of passengers on this nine-day sailing was all over the map, although we’d guess the vast majority were older than 40, with the exception of the 30 or so kids under 12 travelling with their parents (more on that later). Given the aforementioned group, it was no surprise that there seemed to be lots more mobility movement machines (scooters, etc) but then again: it was a nine day sailing out of Baltimore in February.

That might also explain the schizophrenic music selections on the ship. In the Solarium: muzak versions of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s hits. The Rosario Strings (all two of them – a violinist and a guitarist): Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Nexus 4 – The Love Boat, followed by Adele (although, to be fair, they were led by a woman with some serious pipes). Mega 4, the poolside band, was more island-friendly – although we didn’t spend much time there (see below).

Sailing from a cold place to a warm place, on a ship where the large pool does not have a roof and there is no ‘kids zone’ for the young ones, creates some challenges. Royal solved this by relaxing the ‘no kids in the Solarium’ rule until we got to/passed back by Florida and by designating two of the four whirlpools in the main pool area as for children only for the entire cruise -- effectively tagging the main pool as the kids zone.

Now, last time I checked, kids shouldn’t even be in hot tubs without parents; shouldn’t be in there unless they can stand up on the bottom and be heads and shoulders above the water; and shouldn’t be in there for more than 5 minutes at any time. We spotted kids in life vests (yes, Royal now offers on board personal flotation devices for kids, along with a “Pool Watch” staffer in a safety yellow vest, presumably because of what happen on Anthem last summer) in the whirlpools, kids turning into prunes in the whirlpools, no adults to be seen beside them . . . it’s almost as if the addition of the life vests and staff observation has made parents more lax about supervision around the pools rather than more vigilant.

This became even more problematic when a adverse weather system necessitated an earlier arrival than planned in Baltimore. We entered the Chesapeake Bay – essentially ending all ‘revenue resources,’ like shops and the casino – at 1 pm the day before disembarkation. We avoided the packed Solarium as a result.

The Windjammer always had yummy things to eat. Breakfast offerings were pretty standard, but there was plenty of it. We often had lunch at Park Nine, but did venture in Windjammer for early dinner snacks and were never disappointed by the variety of dishes. We didn’t do the specialty restaurants, so can’t comment on that.

Dinner in the Great Gatsby was terrific. We had late traditional dining at a six-top with an older couple (who we never saw after the first night) and a couple closer to our age who, as it turned out, only lived a couple hours away from us on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Made and Nina, our serving team, were spectacular – I caught a cold during the trip and once they realized I was forgoing my wine for tea to combat it, made sure to bring me tea with lemon and honey every night. We did have a couple of stumbles involving my husband’s odd but deathly food allergies, but they were resolved quickly with no harm done.

Ship staff was uniformly friendly and polite, and believe me when I say some folks gave them good reason not to be. It was a little weird starting the cruise with one (acting) Cruise Director, and ending with another (permanent but returning from a conference) Cruise Director. I never realized how much the CD’s personality and demeanor affected the overall feeling of the cruise experience until this sailing. I can’t quantify how it was different, but it was.

We also pre-purchased the Voom surf/stream package for 1 device and shared it – along with a 30% discount, it forced us to log off when done so the other could check email and such (we don’t have international roaming on our regional carrier cell phones). This is not a complaint: it made sure we weren’t buried in our electronic devices 24-7!

Cabin: 3071, standard interior. Sadly, it seemed our cabin did not receive the new bedding others have reported – the mattress and pillows have seen better days. I prefer a firmer sleeping surface, but husband had no issues with it. (Bonus: flatter pillows = easier to meld around your ears when husband’s snoring peaks.) The flat screen TV had an arm that pivoted it for better viewing from the desk or bed. You will still struggle with the lack of outlets, but if you purchase a couple of 230/110 converters, you can use the ‘european’ power outlets, thereby doubling your electric functionality.

When we arrived, the bathroom was overwhelmed with a mildewy smell. We asked our cabin steward, Ien, to replace the shower curtain (no curved glass walls). Voila! Smell removed. I liked the extra storage in the bathroom – it came in handy.

One oddity: the water in the bathroom sink was noticeably cloudy. It didn’t taste bad, but it’s the first time we took notice of potability challenges; it’s probably why there was complimentary bottled water in the cabin. Also, if this is important to you: there are no mini-fridges in standard interior cabins on Grandeur. We asked for an ice bucket and received one missing a lid – our steward said he’d get a replacement, but one never materialized (despite his attentive replenishment of the ice itself).

Another oddity: random things magically appearing or disappearing in the cabin. The first night, a door handle was sitting on our ice bucket tray (not from our room, apparently). It went away after a day or so. A couple-three days later: a plate of cookies awaited us. No note as to why. We presumed it was a Crown and Anchor Society gift.

Third oddity: we appreciated the towel animals awaiting us . . . although we only received four during our cruise. One we’re still trying to figure out what it was supposed to be.

Disembarkation: about as painless as you could ask for. Kudos to the Intercruises staff that assisted us after husband took a header just outside of customs clearance (his fault, not theirs) – they couldn’t have been any kinder or more helpful.

All in all: nice ship, will be nicer post-dry-dock. Love Royal, but wish they could place a ship here with more enclosed pool spaces. Love Baltimore, but will probably sail during warmer months to avoid the cold weather issues.

Ports of Call:

Charleston – used “Free Tours by Foot” for an entertaining and an informative two hour walking tour of the historic district. Scott was worth every penny we decided to pay him. Afterwards, we walked to the Market and wandered through the shops.

Port Canaveral – we visited Brevard Zoo, a delightful little community based zoo that’s doing a lot with a little. A couple of displays could use some larger accommodations and/or a second animal in the enclosure – one or two seemed to be exhibiting boredom-flagging behavior like pacing. However, given the price point, it was a great way to avoid the Kennedy Space Center/Orlando crowds. Note: Lyft charges a surcharge to pick up and drop off at the port . . . which we got charged twice for coming back because our driver took the wrong exit and ended up north of our ship, so he had to double back. Boo.

Freeport: we visited Lucayan National Park, booked through Viator and a third-party tour company (H Forbes). Leonard, our driver/tour guide, was friendly, efficient, full of interesting facts, and compassionate – he stopped at a taxi that had broken down with four of our fellow cruise mates on the side of the road, and gave them a lift to the park while the taxi driver got things squared away. The lunch at Bahama Bay restaurant, just down the road from the Viva Wyndham resort, was yummy.

I will say this: the bus in which we rode was in need of a good cleaning. Not so grimy as to be unhealthy, but it was noticeably in need of scrubbing (especially the floor and ceiling).

Nassau: we’ve been here so many times, we decided to wing it. We cabbed it to Ardastra Gardens (still struggling with post-Matthew renovations), then walked to Fort Charlotte/Stanley/D’Arcy and over to the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. The forts are now charging a nominal ($1.08) admissions fee, but well worth it to see the interpretive displays they’ve added as a result.

We then headed to Junkanoo Beach for a little quality time with seashore until we returned to the ship for dinner and bed. (We were in port until 11:30 pm, which seemed a little out of place on a ship where there weren’t enough partiers to keep Senor Frog’s, Hard Rock Café, AND Sharkee’s going, but who are we to say.) Good thing we didn’t pass up Junkanoo, because . . .

Cococay was cancelled due to high swells and wind gusts. Boo. That left us with three sea days to burn, which was probably one day too much for me and my husband. (Well, okay, more like 2.5 days because of the expedited return, but you get the idea.)
nodumblond’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3071
Cabin: 3071, standard interior. Sadly, it seemed our cabin did not receive the new bedding others have reported – the mattress and pillows have seen better days. I prefer a firmer sleeping surface, but husband had no issues with it. (Bonus: flatter pillows = easier to meld around your ears when husband’s snoring peaks.) The flat screen TV had an arm that pivoted it for better viewing from the desk or bed. You will still struggle with the lack of outlets, but if you purchase a couple of 230/110 converters, you can use the ‘european’ power outlets, thereby doubling your electric functionality.

When we arrived, the bathroom was overwhelmed with a mildewy smell. We asked our cabin steward, Ien, to replace the shower curtain (no curved glass walls). Voila! Smell removed. I liked the extra storage in the bathroom – it came in handy.

One oddity: the water in the bathroom sink was noticeably cloudy. It didn’t taste bad, but it’s the first time we took notice of potability challenges; it’s probably why there was complimentary bottled water in the cabin. Also, if this is important to you: there are no mini-fridges in standard interior cabins on Grandeur.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Charleston
    This company allows you to decide what it's worth for your tour. We enjoyed an entertaining and nformative two hour walking tour of the historic district. Scott was worth every penny we decided to pay him. Afterwards, we walked to the Market and wandered through the shops.
    View All 13,277 Charleston Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Charleston Cruise Port Review
  • Freeport
    Leonard, our driver/tour guide, was friendly, efficient, full of interesting facts, and compassionate – he stopped at a taxi that had broken down with four of our fellow cruise mates on the side of the road, and gave them a lift to the park while the taxi driver got things squared away. The lunch at Bahama Bay restaurant, just down the road from the Viva Wyndham resort, was yummy
    View All 13,277 Freeport Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Freeport Cruise Port Review
  • Nassau
    We’ve been here so often, we decided to wing it. We cabbed it to Ardastra Gardens (still struggling with post-Matthew renovations), then walked to Fort Charlotte/Stanley/D’Arcy and over to the Queen’s Staircase and Fort Fincastle. The forts are now charging a nominal ($1.08) admissions fee, but well worth it to see the interpretive displays they’ve added as a result.

    We then headed to Junkanoo Beach for a little quality time with seashore until we returned to the ship for dinner and bed. (We were in port until 11:30 pm, which seemed a little out of place on a ship where there weren’t enough partiers to keep Senor Frog’s, Hard Rock Café, AND Sharkee’s going, but who are we to say.) Good thing we didn’t pass up Junkanoo, because we missed CocoCay due to high swells/wind. Boo.Hiss.
    View All 5,911 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Nassau Cruise Port Review
  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    we visited Brevard Zoo, a delightful little community based zoo that’s doing a lot with a little. A couple of displays could use some larger accommodations and/or a second animal in the enclosure – one or two seemed to be exhibiting boredom-flagging behavior like pacing. However, given the price point, it was a great way to avoid the Kennedy Space Center/Orlando crowds. Note: Lyft charges a surcharge to pick up and drop off at the port . . . which we got charged twice for coming back because our driver took the wrong exit and ended up north of our ship, so he had to double back. Boo.
    View All 2,155 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Review