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My wife and I just got back from a cruise to New England and Canada. This was our first trip there, our 3rd on Grandeur and our 7th cruise on Royal Caribbean. Itinerary had us on a 9-night trip, but Hurricane Michael ended up tweaking that schedule. This is a little long, but hopefully helpful … First, due to the storm, we were directed to report early to the ship for a 2 pm departure (vice the normal 4 pm) as they were hoping to beat the storm out of the Chesapeake Bay. However, the storm was moving faster than originally expected, so we sailed at 4 pm, stopped just outside of Annapolis, Maryland for the night, and then got underway the next morning after the storm had passed. That meant we'd miss our scheduled stop in Boston but having ridden through Hurricane Matthew last year on Grandeur, it was definitely the right decision. So we ended up with an extra sea day on our way to our first port of call....Bar Harbor Maine. (The crew did a great job laying on a lot of extra activities, mostly inside since the winds were high and the exterior decks were closed at times. This was true for much of this cruise.) Other thing I'll note....almost no kids on this cruise (less than 100 I'd guess) and the average age was probably the highest we've encountered. That's fine, but there were lots of wheelchairs and walkers. Also, this crowd was more of a main dining room crowd than a Windjammer crowd...so lines for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room, Windjammer less crowded than usual. OK...on to a regular review: Embarkation: We live 30 minutes from the cruise terminal so the drive is super easy. We arrived around 9 am ...dropped our bags, paid to park ($15/night), parked and walked back to the terminal. Virtually no lines at TSA or to check-in (we're Platinum Crown and Anchor)...they had us wait in the lobby for maybe 20 minutes and we were on-board by 10 am. We're very familiar with the ship and we were just on her in May so we wandered around a bit and waited for the lunch venues to open. We basically skipped lunch and just grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Latitudes, the coffee shop that offers free pastries in the morning, sandwiches at lunchtime, and cakes and sweats almost all the time. Meals: We love RCI but hate My Time Dining, so were fortunate to get 5:30 pm main dining room. That's a little early for us, but it worked out great. Food is fine considering how it's prepared and how many people they're serving. Each night there is a chef's recommendation and that's probably your best option. Waiters work very hard and seem to have less time to “get to know you,” but they do their best. Ours were Buyung and Ronald and we couldn't have been happier with their service. We don't normally make special requests, but this time we made two and they accommodated both. First, we were at a table for four but only my wife and I were there on the first two nights. We made friends with a couple during trivia and they noted they were the only two at a table for six. We asked if they could be moved to our table and after some discussion between the head waiters, they made the switch. Second, we told our section's head waiter that we would be at the main dining every night except for two. One for Chef's Table and the one other night when we wanted to go to the Windjammer for Indian food (Windjammer has a “Chef's choice” theme each night on a rotating basis (i.e. Italian one night, Mexican the next, British another, etc)). Our head waiter said, “no need to go up there, I'll bring you something." And he did. Every night. It was really good and my wife loved it (as did our table mates). In fact, my wife had that for dinner most nights. It really made the trip special for us. The head waiter's name is Sudhir Pillai and I noticed he took great care of his section and I'm pretty sure we weren't the only table he made special accommodations for...so it never hurts to ask. One night we did Chef's table. We signed up on the ship on embarkation day and they offered us a discount (about 20%), which we appreciated, but probably would have done it anyway. This was our 4th time doing Chef's table. We had a great group, the food is always good, and the wines are excellent. If you haven't done it, I highly recommend it despite the price tag. They seat no more than 14 people, it's 4-5 courses with each course explained to the group, usually by the chef, and paired with really quality wines (like $60-$70 bottles of wine), and it's all delicious. It takes 2-3 hours for the meal (which is fine as the company was good). I recommend doing it at least once if you like good food/wine and they offer the 30% off...take it. I believe it's offered almost every night. The only other specialty restaurant we did was Izumi. First, we signed up for the “make your own sushi” class (which you then get to eat afterward). Learned a lot and it was a lot of fun. That came with a 25% off coupon which we used for lunch on the last sea day. Izumi is up in the Viking Crown lounge area, so the views are nice and the seas were calm so it was very pleasant lunch. We like the “hot rock” which is kind of like a mini-hibachi. Highly recommend that. Breakfast most mornings was in the Windjammer. Lots of choices and seating was never a problem except for one morning, but we just walked across the pool deck into the Solarium and found a table there. The Park Cafe in the Solarium also has breakfast stuff (bagel bar, cereals, fruit, and breakfast sandwiches...it's a great option if you want less stress or to grab a quick breakfast.) The Shows/Entertainment First...Grandeur continues to have a great Activities staff. Because the ship is smaller, you really get a chance to interact with them, especially if play the games/trivia. This was cruise director Bob's next to last trip on Grandeur so there will be a new team soon, but we've always been happy with the Activities staff on Grandeur. The folks that ran bingo and line dancing and trivia and the game shows and..and..and...were great. Fritz from Philly (i.e. the Phillipines) and Katie from Australia were super funny and energetic...all the time. I couldn't do it. The featured performers were...pretty good. Pretty standard "off-Broadway" kind of thing. Becasue it was a 9-day cruise, they did two “big production” shows. Both were good and really featured the dancers as more than just back-up to the singers. The other nights had guest performers (a Celine Dion tribute singer, a couple of comedians, a male singer/impressionist, and one other that I'm forgetting). The ship's singer/dancers also did a show called “Seasons” in the Centrum that used to have a Cirque-de-Soleil-style (suspended from cables) component, but they removed the rigging so it was just singing/dancing...but still good. During the day we did trivia, the game shows, bingo etc....Lots of fun. Casino...pretty standard. Pretty lively. My wife won $250 on slots so were pretty happy with that. It is smokey as it's the only indoor smoking spot and since the weather was a bit off, a lot of folks went in there just to smoke. Outdoor pool was closed for most of the cruise or no one was in it due to the air temp. The hot tubs mostly stayed open. Solarium was busy but never overcrowded (we could always find seats) and we actually used the hot tubs almost daily on this trip. Room: Port side, 3rd deck, room 3084. Big window, fairly spacious (had the bed and a two-seater couch). No mini-fridge. Storage was pretty good...we had to get a little creative, but it works. At night, we could hear music from the Centrum fairly loudly, although that ends at 11 pm. If that bothers you, recommend staying more towards the aft end of the ship. Bathrooms are small but they made great use of space. Shower is a bit small and has a curtain vice the door on newer ships, but even still...I had no issue with the shower size. Toilets worked fine throughout the ship. Room steward Juana was great though she was that elf you hear about (you rarely see her, but you come back and your bathroom is clean and bed is made...). Departure: Departure was super easy. We carried off our luggage. We lined up around 6:45 am. About 7:15 we started debarking. Immigration and customs took less than 2 minutes. We were back to our car and on the road by 7:30. Excursions: Boston – canceled due to Hurricane delay. Bar Habor, Maine – Used the lifeboats as tenders (very cool, first time for us); max 10 minute ride from ship to shore. Drops you off right downtown. The town is small, easily walkable...very cute with tons of interesting shops and bars and restaurants. Beautiful views. We did a RCI sanctioned tour that was a 2-hour guided bus tour through Acadia National Park and ended with a lobster lunch (or steak) at the Bar Harbor Yacht club. Wasn't exactly what were expecting but it was sunny and relatively warm and we got some great views. We stopped at two spots for photos for about 20 minutes each. Guides were great. Wouldn't do this particular excursion again, but loved Bar Harbor and hope to go back. We were there about a week after peak color and after a storm had blown a lot of the leaves off already, but the colors were still wonderful. Portland, Maine - Docked pier side, again, right down town. We did a Foodie walking tour organized through RCI with a local guide. About 11 people in our group, all very nice. The guide took us to a number of local restaurant/shops while telling us about the town. First, we went to an organic food store that does amazing soups, all sourced locally. Then to a store that specialized in seaweed products (from tea to bath soap), very nice local owner and very interesting. Next was a family run Italian market with unique pizza. We took the pizza up to Shipyard Brewing Company for a flight of beers to sample, and then down to a local bakery for a chocolate chip cookie. Highly, highly recommend it. After that we walked around downtown for awhile but headed back to the ship a bit early as it began to rain. St John's Canada – canceled due to high winds (pilot couldn't get aboard the Grandeur to guide us in to the pier). That was disappointing but you can't control the weather. Halifax, Canada – Great pier facility, less than a half-mile from the main downtown area. We didn't book an excursion but chose to wander around on our own. We walked the length of the boardwalk (which has great views). Tons of interesting shop and restaurants there. Then walked up the hill to the Citadel, which we really enjoyed. There is an entry fee (about $5 US) but then everything is free inside. You can join a guided tour inside or explore on your own. As we walked back down, we wandered up and down the side streets (it's really nice) and found an outdoor food court on the boardwalk. I had fish and chips (about $15 US) and wife had a lobster roll (same price). Both were super good. We then wandered over to a local rum distillery (Halifax Distilling Company) that advertised tours. They weren't doing tours on the day we were there as a group had booked the whole restaurant for a private affair, but we did do a sampling at the bar and even bought a couple of bottles to take home as they don't currently distribute outside of Nova Scotia. Cool day! We absolutely loved Halifax as I think we just scratched the surface and hope to make it back again one day. I think that's long enough. Enjoy Grandeur of the Seas! We're going to try this route again, but go earlier in the season.

Cruise to Canda

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review by TeamAnnapolis

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I just got back from a cruise to New England and Canada. This was our first trip there, our 3rd on Grandeur and our 7th cruise on Royal Caribbean.

Itinerary had us on a 9-night trip, but Hurricane Michael ended up tweaking that schedule.

This is a little long, but hopefully helpful …

First, due to the storm, we were directed to report early to the ship for a 2 pm departure (vice the normal 4 pm) as they were hoping to beat the storm out of the Chesapeake Bay. However, the storm was moving faster than originally expected, so we sailed at 4 pm, stopped just outside of Annapolis, Maryland for the night, and then got underway the next morning after the storm had passed. That meant we'd miss our scheduled stop in Boston but having ridden through Hurricane Matthew last year on Grandeur, it was definitely the right decision. So we ended up with an extra sea day on our way to our first port of call....Bar Harbor Maine. (The crew did a great job laying on a lot of extra activities, mostly inside since the winds were high and the exterior decks were closed at times. This was true for much of this cruise.)

Other thing I'll note....almost no kids on this cruise (less than 100 I'd guess) and the average age was probably the highest we've encountered. That's fine, but there were lots of wheelchairs and walkers. Also, this crowd was more of a main dining room crowd than a Windjammer crowd...so lines for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room, Windjammer less crowded than usual.

OK...on to a regular review:

Embarkation:

We live 30 minutes from the cruise terminal so the drive is super easy. We arrived around 9 am ...dropped our bags, paid to park ($15/night), parked and walked back to the terminal. Virtually no lines at TSA or to check-in (we're Platinum Crown and Anchor)...they had us wait in the lobby for maybe 20 minutes and we were on-board by 10 am. We're very familiar with the ship and we were just on her in May so we wandered around a bit and waited for the lunch venues to open. We basically skipped lunch and just grabbed a couple of sandwiches from Cafe Latitudes, the coffee shop that offers free pastries in the morning, sandwiches at lunchtime, and cakes and sweats almost all the time.

Meals:

We love RCI but hate My Time Dining, so were fortunate to get 5:30 pm main dining room. That's a little early for us, but it worked out great. Food is fine considering how it's prepared and how many people they're serving. Each night there is a chef's recommendation and that's probably your best option. Waiters work very hard and seem to have less time to “get to know you,” but they do their best. Ours were Buyung and Ronald and we couldn't have been happier with their service.

We don't normally make special requests, but this time we made two and they accommodated both. First, we were at a table for four but only my wife and I were there on the first two nights. We made friends with a couple during trivia and they noted they were the only two at a table for six. We asked if they could be moved to our table and after some discussion between the head waiters, they made the switch. Second, we told our section's head waiter that we would be at the main dining every night except for two. One for Chef's Table and the one other night when we wanted to go to the Windjammer for Indian food (Windjammer has a “Chef's choice” theme each night on a rotating basis (i.e. Italian one night, Mexican the next, British another, etc)). Our head waiter said, “no need to go up there, I'll bring you something." And he did. Every night. It was really good and my wife loved it (as did our table mates). In fact, my wife had that for dinner most nights. It really made the trip special for us. The head waiter's name is Sudhir Pillai and I noticed he took great care of his section and I'm pretty sure we weren't the only table he made special accommodations for...so it never hurts to ask.

One night we did Chef's table. We signed up on the ship on embarkation day and they offered us a discount (about 20%), which we appreciated, but probably would have done it anyway. This was our 4th time doing Chef's table. We had a great group, the food is always good, and the wines are excellent. If you haven't done it, I highly recommend it despite the price tag. They seat no more than 14 people, it's 4-5 courses with each course explained to the group, usually by the chef, and paired with really quality wines (like $60-$70 bottles of wine), and it's all delicious. It takes 2-3 hours for the meal (which is fine as the company was good). I recommend doing it at least once if you like good food/wine and they offer the 30% off...take it. I believe it's offered almost every night.

The only other specialty restaurant we did was Izumi. First, we signed up for the “make your own sushi” class (which you then get to eat afterward). Learned a lot and it was a lot of fun. That came with a 25% off coupon which we used for lunch on the last sea day. Izumi is up in the Viking Crown lounge area, so the views are nice and the seas were calm so it was very pleasant lunch. We like the “hot rock” which is kind of like a mini-hibachi. Highly recommend that.

Breakfast most mornings was in the Windjammer. Lots of choices and seating was never a problem except for one morning, but we just walked across the pool deck into the Solarium and found a table there. The Park Cafe in the Solarium also has breakfast stuff (bagel bar, cereals, fruit, and breakfast sandwiches...it's a great option if you want less stress or to grab a quick breakfast.)

The Shows/Entertainment

First...Grandeur continues to have a great Activities staff. Because the ship is smaller, you really get a chance to interact with them, especially if play the games/trivia. This was cruise director Bob's next to last trip on Grandeur so there will be a new team soon, but we've always been happy with the Activities staff on Grandeur. The folks that ran bingo and line dancing and trivia and the game shows and..and..and...were great. Fritz from Philly (i.e. the Phillipines) and Katie from Australia were super funny and energetic...all the time. I couldn't do it.

The featured performers were...pretty good. Pretty standard "off-Broadway" kind of thing. Becasue it was a 9-day cruise, they did two “big production” shows. Both were good and really featured the dancers as more than just back-up to the singers. The other nights had guest performers (a Celine Dion tribute singer, a couple of comedians, a male singer/impressionist, and one other that I'm forgetting). The ship's singer/dancers also did a show called “Seasons” in the Centrum that used to have a Cirque-de-Soleil-style (suspended from cables) component, but they removed the rigging so it was just singing/dancing...but still good.

During the day we did trivia, the game shows, bingo etc....Lots of fun.

Casino...pretty standard. Pretty lively. My wife won $250 on slots so were pretty happy with that. It is smokey as it's the only indoor smoking spot and since the weather was a bit off, a lot of folks went in there just to smoke.

Outdoor pool was closed for most of the cruise or no one was in it due to the air temp. The hot tubs mostly stayed open. Solarium was busy but never overcrowded (we could always find seats) and we actually used the hot tubs almost daily on this trip.

Room:

Port side, 3rd deck, room 3084. Big window, fairly spacious (had the bed and a two-seater couch). No mini-fridge. Storage was pretty good...we had to get a little creative, but it works. At night, we could hear music from the Centrum fairly loudly, although that ends at 11 pm. If that bothers you, recommend staying more towards the aft end of the ship. Bathrooms are small but they made great use of space. Shower is a bit small and has a curtain vice the door on newer ships, but even still...I had no issue with the shower size. Toilets worked fine throughout the ship. Room steward Juana was great though she was that elf you hear about (you rarely see her, but you come back and your bathroom is clean and bed is made...).

Departure:

Departure was super easy. We carried off our luggage. We lined up around 6:45 am. About 7:15 we started debarking. Immigration and customs took less than 2 minutes. We were back to our car and on the road by 7:30.

Excursions:

Boston – canceled due to Hurricane delay.

Bar Habor, Maine – Used the lifeboats as tenders (very cool, first time for us); max 10 minute ride from ship to shore. Drops you off right downtown. The town is small, easily walkable...very cute with tons of interesting shops and bars and restaurants. Beautiful views. We did a RCI sanctioned tour that was a 2-hour guided bus tour through Acadia National Park and ended with a lobster lunch (or steak) at the Bar Harbor Yacht club. Wasn't exactly what were expecting but it was sunny and relatively warm and we got some great views. We stopped at two spots for photos for about 20 minutes each. Guides were great. Wouldn't do this particular excursion again, but loved Bar Harbor and hope to go back. We were there about a week after peak color and after a storm had blown a lot of the leaves off already, but the colors were still wonderful.

Portland, Maine - Docked pier side, again, right down town. We did a Foodie walking tour organized through RCI with a local guide. About 11 people in our group, all very nice. The guide took us to a number of local restaurant/shops while telling us about the town. First, we went to an organic food store that does amazing soups, all sourced locally. Then to a store that specialized in seaweed products (from tea to bath soap), very nice local owner and very interesting. Next was a family run Italian market with unique pizza. We took the pizza up to Shipyard Brewing Company for a flight of beers to sample, and then down to a local bakery for a chocolate chip cookie. Highly, highly recommend it. After that we walked around downtown for awhile but headed back to the ship a bit early as it began to rain.

St John's Canada – canceled due to high winds (pilot couldn't get aboard the Grandeur to guide us in to the pier). That was disappointing but you can't control the weather.

Halifax, Canada – Great pier facility, less than a half-mile from the main downtown area. We didn't book an excursion but chose to wander around on our own. We walked the length of the boardwalk (which has great views). Tons of interesting shop and restaurants there. Then walked up the hill to the Citadel, which we really enjoyed. There is an entry fee (about $5 US) but then everything is free inside. You can join a guided tour inside or explore on your own. As we walked back down, we wandered up and down the side streets (it's really nice) and found an outdoor food court on the boardwalk. I had fish and chips (about $15 US) and wife had a lobster roll (same price). Both were super good. We then wandered over to a local rum distillery (Halifax Distilling Company) that advertised tours. They weren't doing tours on the day we were there as a group had booked the whole restaurant for a private affair, but we did do a sampling at the bar and even bought a couple of bottles to take home as they don't currently distribute outside of Nova Scotia. Cool day! We absolutely loved Halifax as I think we just scratched the surface and hope to make it back again one day.

I think that's long enough. Enjoy Grandeur of the Seas! We're going to try this route again, but go earlier in the season.
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 1N 3084
Port side, 3rd deck, room 3084. Big window, fairly spacious (had the bed and a two-seater couch). No mini-fridge. Storage was pretty good...we had to get a little creative, but it works. At night, we could hear music from the Centrum fairly loudly, although that ends at 11 pm. If that bothers you, recommend staying more towards the aft end of the ship. Bathrooms are small but they made great use of space. Shower is a bit small and has a curtain vice the door on newer ships, but even still...I had no issue with the shower size. Toilets worked fine throughout the ship. Room steward Juana was great though she was that elf you hear about (you rarely see her, but you come back and your bathroom is clean and bed is made...).
Deck 4 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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  • Acadia National Park
    Bar Habor, Maine – Used the lifeboats as tenders (very cool, first time for us); max 10 minute ride from ship to shore. Drops you off right downtown. The town is small, easily walkable...very cute with tons of interesting shops and bars and restaurants. Beautiful views. We did a RCI sanctioned tour that was a 2-hour guided bus tour through Acadia National Park and ended with a lobster lunch (or steak) at the Bar Harbor Yacht club. Wasn't exactly what were expecting but it was sunny and relatively warm and we got some great views. We stopped at two spots for photos for about 20 minutes each. Guides were great. Wouldn't do this particular excursion again, but loved Bar Harbor and hope to go back. We were there about a week after peak color and after a storm had blown a lot of the leaves off already, but the colors were still wonderful.
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  • Portland (Maine)
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