Hubby and I chose this cruise because it departed on hubby's birthday (my idea) and the embarkation port was within driving distance (we do fly, but did not wish to this time). We have sailed on RCI many times, but have not been on this cruise line for seven years (preferring Celebrity). We have also sailed on NCL.
The drive took around 2 hours but it was an easy drive from our home in suburban Philadelphia. It is so easy to park at the port in Baltimore. Kudos for that! Handed over our luggage to the porters, and entered the port building. I was hoping the process would be easy, but it was a bit chaotic. We made it through the TSA checkpoint (never easy as hubby has an artificial knee and metal in various other joints). We are both 62, just FYI, but extremely active. We were directed to the wrong line by port staff; the line looked like it was a few hundred passengers long, even though we got there before our 10:30 a.m. embarkation time. I saw another shorter line and questioned a port staff and she said what status are you? I showed her our ticket and we had booked a Grand Suite. We were then allowed to get into the shorter line (thank goodness). The check in clerk was slow and showed a lot of confusion. I had to point out the various details of our negative Covid results etc. Baltimore could do a better job at embarkation processing. In the past, they have.
That walk to get on the ship in Baltimore is LONG, up all of those ramps in a tunnel. We made it but it was exhausting for us, but luckily once onboard there were plenty of seats to relax in while we caught our breath. It was early (around 11:15 a.m.) so we made our way to the snack place in the Solarium, which was uncrowded and the wraps and pizza hit the spot. We had bought "The Key" and could have gone to the MDR to eat and stow our carry on luggage, but we preferred to eat in a less crowded venue and keep our carryons closeby.
We stayed in Grand Suite, 8032. Our first time in a Grand Suite, and it was incredible. The view was amazing. We spent a lot of time in our suite because it was so comfortable and roomy. Plenty of storage! Tons of closet space! The bed was comfortable, as were the pillows. The balcony was large, and had two comfy lounge chairs as well as two chairs and table that had a glass top. It was perfect for having breakfast, lunch or dinner. I enjoyed reading outside on the lounge chair. The views were just spectacular at night. We had some plumbing issues in this cabin; toilet did not flush reliably and brown water was coming out of the faucet on the last night at sea., The decor looks tired, with holes in the curtains from wear and age. Because we were directly under the Windjammer there was some noise from furniture being moved around at times, but we did not mind. Also because we were directly under the Windjammer it was a very quick and easy walk up one flight to the buffet, which was really convenient! The suite was also very close to the elevator which made it an easy way to get everywhere on the ship without tons of walking. Convenient location! The fridge/cooler kept things cool but was definitely not a typical refrigerator. There were stains on the outdated paisley print carpet. The last night there was a whistling wind coming through the closed balcony door which we stuffed a shirt in to silence so we could sleep. Our room steward when informed (we did not wish to bother him) swiftly had a maintenance crew come and add insulation to the balcony door.