We chose this cruise for the itinerary, the reputation of the Grandeur and for timing around the end of school. We cruised with a family with two pre-teens with whom we are essentially family and both families live near Baltimore. We arranged private transportation to and from the port due to the party size of six and the amount of luggage. Upon arrival, the Port of Baltimore did itself no favors as our driver was directed to one line where the luggage carts were being locked and when attempting to ask for direction to another line we were met with incredible indifference and ineptitude. Once we finally offloaded our luggage, we were then met with yet more confusion as we had booked the Royal Suite and the other members were Diamond members. Port staff had no idea where to direct people for security screening and actually dumped both parties into different, yet packed and slow moving, lines. We met at the screening and went through together. By that time we had been able to identify ourselves to Royal staff and our concierge, Carlington Berry (more on Carlington later) was waiting for us on the ship side of security. That was the last of any bad issues for embarkation. Carlington whisked us directly to check-in and then around all other lines directly to a private elevator (one woman decided to latch on and was with us all the way to and pushed into the elevator with her husband by pure hubris) and then to our suite. All of the features of the suite were discussed and our attendant, Fernando Dierra, was introduced to us. The staff of the Grandeur truly earns their reputation as the friendliest in RCI's fleet, the food was superior to other RCI ships (Majesty and Monarch) we have cruised on and the itinerary delivered. Finally, the staff in the Great Gatsby dining room was top notch, with our table's servers, Deepshika and Mary Ann, being the best we have ever had by far. Deepshika especially, as our head server, was organized efficient and catered to our party's every request. The only average part of our experience were the shows in the main theater. They were at best average, with a hypnotist and a comedian being each an hour we will never get back.
We chose private tours we arranged separately and all were excellent. Specifically, Jolly Breeze Tour's jet boat whale watching tour from St. Andrews-by-the-Sea (St John port stop) was in the top 5 of all excursions we have ever done, including seaplane snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and a helicopter into the Grand Canyon for lunch below the rim. We had been concerned about a rough ride in the zodiak for the girls but they actually wanted more wake jumping as the tour went on. The shock-absorbing seats helped a lot.
The Royal Suite provided a nice buffer from crowds for our group of six. The king bed was comfortable and the amenities of a dual shower and jetted tub were fully utilized. The living area and dining area provided space for the six of us to relax and to enjoy room service. The balcony had plenty of room for all to relax as well. This cabin comes with privileges of early disembarkation and embarkation via the concierge. Carlington Berry was Grandeur's concierge and was exemplary in answering questions, addressing a maintenance issue in our cabin and as an overall gentleman.
The staff seemed completely disinterested and incompetent in directing traffic and loading luggage. The disorganization continued as we entered the terminal for security screening. The priority lines were jammed with people due to staff directing everyone to whichever line was shorter at the moment, rather than in the appropriate line for priority or no priority.
We rented a vehicle in Halifax and drove around to Peggy's Cove and then to the Titanic graveyard memorial. Our only mistake was reserving a car from Hertz. The rental location is two blocks from the terminal and was supposed to be open from 8AM to 5PM. Unfortunately, no one was in the office and the voicemail was full when we called the number on the office sign. I am a Hertz President;s Circle member and was surprised with this incredibly poor performance by Hertz. If the location isn't open, let us know or at least have the phone roll to a number at another Halifax location. We settled for a rental with Thrifty at the Westin Nova Scotian, which took almost an hour our of our port time due to the desk being staffed with just one person who had to deal with two parties who didn't know what they wanted nor had credit cards. Other than rental car problems, the scenery was brilliant. We were not able to make a trip to the Titanic Museum or Fisherman's Village due to the rental issues. The port staff were fantastic and efficient.