Just a little background info. This was our 3rd RC cruise. We have cruised 2 times on Celebrity and 1 time on Emerald Waterways. We were very pleased with our Adventure of the Seas Cruise and anticipated to have a great time on this one. We were only Gold ranked peeps on the ship and it was first apparent upon embarkation. We chose this cruise because of timing and we had never been to Key West before. The other times it was apparent is when they had a "private event" in the Viking Crown Lounge area.
We flew into Baltimore the day before and stayed in a cute B&B called 1840's Carrollton Inn. It was very charming and breakfast was made to order and very good!
It was raining most of the day (October 16th), but we still walked around to explore the city a bit. Had fun walking in the rain! We ate a wonderful Crab Cake lunch at the Lexington Market. Since we did not wear our rain gear, we got soaking wet. The wonderful people at the 1840's Carrollton Inn let us use their washer and dryer.
We were told that Embarkation wouldn't be until later in the afternoon, but checkout was at 11:00, so with luggage, there really was not much we could do but go to the Port. We were not the only ones in the same boat, so to speak! ;) We got to know our line-mates and that was fun. It was still cool and windy and it would have been Really Nice if Royal Caribbean would have let us in out of the cold. We were towards the front of the line and the line behind us quickly grew very long. There was another line for another door as well. And, for some unknown reason, people thought they could form a 3rd line...huh?? what??
Now for the frustrating part........After a long wait, the Guard of the Door finally opened it and started his spiel announcing for all the people who have lots of points (Emerald, Diamond, Key, Etc.). Well, that was fine, for the first few times. I get it, they spent a lot of money cruising with RC. But......when he kept on announcing the same thing every few minutes, and then more stragglers would come up and go in the door....and that happened for a very long time and got the rest of us more and more impatient (it was not warm breezes we were experiencing outside). We came up with a Brilliant idea ---- Why can't all those people have the other door just to themselves? It sure would have solved the problem of the rest of us getting miffed at the Guard repeating himself every few minutes (and miffed at the stragglers) and us thinking we can finally go in, and then another set of stragglers would show up and our wait would continue. Anyway, it could have been done a lot more efficiently. I really felt badly for the older folks and the folks who could not stand in line well. I am normally a cup half full type of person, but this kind of annoyed even me.
On the other hand, we were able to get a later disembarkation time. Our flight wasn't until later in the day. By the time we had breakfast in the main dining room, sat a while near Starbucks and the windows....and then disembarked; there was No Problem at all exiting the ship, getting our luggage and going through security. That was a Very Good experience. We also were able to catch a ride (cab/limo) to the airport right away.
We had never been on Grandeur, but have read reviews about it here on cruisecritic. We knew it was an older and smaller ship. A couple comments I have about the overall ship is that on Deck 5 (I believe), where the Starbucks is located, they were continually replacing/repairing the area around the rail. The walkway was partially blocked the whole time. Not a very good first impression. Also, there were a lot of not nice odors all around the ship that seemed to get worse as the cruise progressed. We did not notice a lot of cleaning/disinfecting of the hand rails on the stairs nor in the public restrooms.
We had a balcony cabin on Deck 7. It was a great location for us; down the stairs a few flights to the dining room and up the stairs a few flights to the pool and Windjammer. We always take the stairs to hopefully help a bit with all the calories being consumed! Our Stateroom Attendant's name was Ikomang Wijahya. He was such a pleasant young man -- always greeting us with a smile and great attitude. For my birthday he made a 3 layer birthday cake out of towels :) Our room was kept spotless and had plenty of closet space, drawers and shelves. The bed was actually comfortable! A Very Nice Surprise! I'm not a fan of the curtain for the shower and the all in one shampoo and body wash though, and the size of the shower. Since it is an older ship, I doubt there is much they can do about it.
We did not go to any specialty restaurants. We ate breakfast in the main dining room. Lunch in the main dining room for the 3 sea days and in the Windjammer for the port days. Dinner in the main dining room. We had the roast beef sandwich (beef on a kimmelweck bun) a couple of times in the Park Cafe. It was better the 2nd time (new beef and I was first in line). We were a bit disappointed in the lack of variety of the food, especially in the Windjammer. It would be nice to have different stations: Italian, Asian, Mexican, etc., with different types of those foods each day. It was really nice that servers walked around and took drink orders while you were dining in the Windjammer. Service was very good that way. Also, the Windjammer needs an ice cream station :) I know, there is the soft serve just outside....We really enjoy the salads they make for you in the main dining room during sea days at lunchtime. The last formal night in the main dining room - lobster tail and prime rib - was very good.
I remember our last RC cruise that for Chocolate Breakfast day they offered a chocolate shake. I did not get it that time and was looking forward to getting it this time ---- but it was not on the menu. :(
We went to a couple of the shows. Were not at all impressed with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. However, we were Very Impressed with Rookie. That show was really good and enjoyable! I wish his band would have played by the pool and in other areas of the ship.
We did not go on any shore excursions. Our first stop, Port Canaveral, it was raining.All of the water based shore excursions were canceled. We would not have minded just walking around, but you can't get anywhere without taking a bus. When we go on cruises, we like to be able to walk into town, or to a beach and explore on our own. That is one of the reasons why we rated this cruise so low ---- the lack of being able to do that in both Port Canaveral and Miami. It was nice to finally be able to do that in Key West. We arrived an hour earlier and departed an hour earlier than it was originally planned. We walked to the Southernmost point in the Continental USA and meandered back, doing some shopping along the way; had lunch on the ship and went back out for more exploring. Was a nice way to spend my birthday :) And, yes, I wore a tiara :)
We then went to Coco Cay. It was a nice, relaxing beach and pool day for us. We walked all around (where it was open). Not a large isle. Beware.....it looked like they rake the sand and sandy pathways, But there are small and large coral type rocks everywhere. If you have tender feet, you might want to put your flip flops on while going on the paths to/from places. The ocean water was great -- a bit cooler than the pool on the Grandeur (which was a bit warm). The pool was very nice and big enough to swim and make your way around the different areas. The liner in the pool was not intact in places, especially around the 0 entry area where the little kids were and the steps near there. Those steps could be very dangerous and I had to be careful stepping up and out of the pool there. Something RC Needs to fix before someone gets hurt. The swim up bar was packed and it is a lot easier to get a drink on the dry side of it. Speaking of drinks ---- we don't think they use the best alcohol to mix their drinks there. On a brighter note, we thought the food was better than most of the food on the ship. Yummy Mexican food and a good Cuban sandwich. We did not buy the balloon ride nor any of the waterpark extra fee things. I think Snorkel equipment should be a freebee. It would have been nice to be able to do that. We had no problem finding 2 lounge chairs and table an umbrella on the beach side; but harder to find 2 chairs together near the pool (with some shade). We Really enjoyed the pool! Plenty of room for all the people. The pool on the Grandeur has a very small space that is not just for sitting in the water, and then 99% of the people in the pool part of the pool just stand and watch the TV. Not great for someone who would like to do a little bit of swimming or moving around at all in the pool. So, I was really glad for the Coco Cay pool!
We had 2 sea days on the way back. The first day was nice and warm, the 2nd day got cooler and cooler, of course. It was pleasant. Had time to read and took walks around the ship on deck 5, having to detour when parts of it were closed off for some reason or another. Saw some dolphins swimming along one day and that was really fun! We did see dolphins at the dock at Cape Canaveral and I have a picture of one that caught a fish for breakfast. That was really cool!
Regarding the Beverage Package and the bartenders......It seemed to us that the only bartenders who automatically gave us "the good stuff" was Christonio -- in the Viking Crown Lounge. He also knew how to make drinks, even if not on the "menu". And Amit in the Lobby Bar was very good and friendly. Deborah at the Scooner bar did a good job for us one day. All the other bars/bartenders, if you don't specify a certain liquor, they give you the "house" or lower quality brand --- in our experience anyway and a lot of the bartenders made the same drink differently.
I'm glad we were able to get away before the cold and snow of winter sets in. Grandeur has been sold (to another RC part of their company, I think). There were A Lot of people on the ship that were Regulars on Grandeur. Sometimes it seemed like we were invading "their space/special club". There were a lot more people on this cruise that talked/bragged about their status than in all the cruises (6 of them so far) we have been on, put together.
All in all, I would not go on this ship and go with this itinerary again. Our other cruises were much more enjoyable in every way. We did meet up with a couple from our very first cruise -- on this one -- and that was really special! :)
Good location, mid-ship. Plenty of closet space/drawers. Balcony just big enough for a small table and 2 chairs. Bed comfortable. Tiny shower - with a shower curtain and 2 in one shampoo/body wash.
Saw the old ships (in the cold wind) in the harbor. Had wonderful Crab Cakes at the Lexington Market
There is no way to get anywhere without taking a bus. Not at all a walkable port.
Again, another port where you can't get anywhere without transportation.
We walked around and saw the sights. It was fun.
We really enjoyed this day. Great pool, warm ocean. It would have really been great if RC offered free snorkel gear -- since this is their isle and all. The food was better here than a lot of the food on the ship. Be careful walking though - coral and rocks along their sandy paths and near the water (shells too).