Hello! Since I was beginning to hijack the other Grandeur review thread, I figured I'd start my own. Quick background, hubby and I are 32 and 30, have previously cruised on Carnival once, Princess twice, and RCI once. Princess had ... Read More
Hello! Since I was beginning to hijack the other Grandeur review thread, I figured I'd start my own. Quick background, hubby and I are 32 and 30, have previously cruised on Carnival once, Princess twice, and RCI once. Princess had always been my favorite of all three. As far as RCI went, we had only been on the Sovereign and were wary about going on another "smaller" RCI ship. We were cruising with another couple around our age and the Grandeur was really just a perfect price! I was also hoping to get back to New Orleans after Katrina and give them as much tourism money (see: liquor) as I could!
Ok this may get long. But I always love the long reviews so I hope you do also! We arrived that Friday the day prior to leaving. Hubby and I stayed at The Inn on Bourbon and it was great. Literally right on Bourbon street. I won't get into the fiasco of our Jet Blue flight. Let's just say our luggage was purposefully left at JFK along with about 50 others because it "couldn't fit" and we had to go back to the airport Saturday morning to retrieve it because they weren't sure how late it would be delivered. Anyhoo, that Friday night we went to a casual dinner, met our friends at Pat O'briens. We had a good time. Picked up a bottle of VO and a bottle of Crown to bring onboard. Yes we are one of "those". Made it through no problems.
Embarkation was a mess. While I understand that boarding was delayed due to Noro on the previous cruise, the organization and communication could have been better. I kept asking where suite check in was and they'd point to a mass of people and say over there with a general wave of the hand. If I asked them to elaborate they waved again. Gee thanks. After fighting through a crowd of annoyed security waiters we found it. And luckily having the jr. suite we could go through security first as well, because the line at that point was LONG! Our friends were staying in an interior but saw a "crew" security line that a few passengers seemed to be in. Our friend said "can I go in this line as well?" and they said, why not. So they snuck in right away! Totally unorganized. It's no Pt. Canaveral set up, that's for sure.
Got on at about 1:30, hung out a bit til our room was ready at 2. We got an aft JS, 7652. Of course being an older ship the rooms were not the "wow" factor, but I expected that. It was very roomy and perfect for our planned pre dinner happy hours. The balcony was the HIGHLIGHT!!! I am addicted to afts as of now. Roomy, 2 lounge chairs, peaceful. AWESOME! Spent lots of time here in the late afternoons, reading, or eating breakfast. I never thought I'd be one of those aft obsessed cruisers, but here I am! Room steward was Fertinand, nice guy, good worker.
I have to say, RCI has the absolute worst muster drill of all lines I've been on. Lining people up like cattle in the possible heat just seems silly. Princess and Carnival bring you to a lounge and let people learn in a comfortable, spacious, environment. And that is where you will meet in case of issues. It is just so much more relaxed and sensible, I think.
Ship was in AMAZING condition I thought for being the age that it was. It was just so much nicer then the Sovereign. Obviously I knew it wouldn't have the bells and whistles that the Carib Princess or a Voyager ship would have. But what people keep saying turned out to be true. What a wonderful staff on this ship. I can't explain what it was! The whole ship had a happy, wonderful vibe. Solarium was nice, although I wish they'd open the roof more, a lot of times it was quite warm. I did enjoy the hot tubs there every afternoon. I tended to lay out on deck 10 aft, much more peaceful and an abundance of chairs. Only problem was that the drink servers didn't frequent this area. It was EXTREMELY windy the first 2 days so that's probably the reason. Typical pool games, men's sexy legs, belly flop, etc. It always kills me when people on the RCI board bitch about Carnival and their trashy games. Royal clearly has em too! I didn't watch them but my friends got a chuckle. The muster deck is a quiet, peaceful place to watch the sea and read. I walked on this deck almost every day.
Dennis the cruise director was not our cup of tea. To be honest, we rarely like them...the cheese factor is way too high. Our Sovereign cd was the best by far. Actually funny! This guy just got under our skin. The CAPTAIN on the other hand was wonderful. Great sense of humor. I loved his announcements every day. Ron Hemstead was his name I believe.
Some of the entertainment we really enjoyed. This group of men, Mosaic, did a whole concert with just sounds from their mouths and singing. I thought it was absolutely awesome. Best thing I've ever seen on a ship. The juggler was funny as well. I felt the late comedian was lacking a bit. We didn't attend most of the shows because we prefer happy hour before dinner, show after, and we had late seating. RCI tends to have most of their late seating shows before dinner.
Now's when I get yelled at I'm sure...are the four of us the only ones that find Quest sophomoric and not that funny? I'm sure it varies from ship to ship. I just felt that you could only see men change into women's clothing so many times. I was disappointed because I was so looking forward to finally seeing it! I think I was picturing something much raunchier! ;) Love and Marriage game was cute, as usual. Casino treated my husband right, but not me. Nothing unusual. Deck party was THE most attended and fun I've ever seen. Granted I think I've skipped it a few times in the past. Didn't attend any art auctions.
Our entire table of 10 at dinner felt the food was good, not excellent. There were some good dishes. Desserts seemed quite lacking. I felt that the last time, also. I still managed to gorge myself. Our waiter Mr. Small was funny, he grew on us. He had kind of a "too cool" attitude. We got used to it. He screwed up at least one order a night. Now Danny our Asst. waiter ROCKED! Wonderful, happy, funny guy. Always remembered my tea each night. Our tablemates were also great. We had a great time with them.
Lunches are worth mentioning because a lot of times I felt the food was better at this time then dinner. We always try to make it to the dining room lunches if we can. We were a bit disappointed that they didn't do dining room lunches when we were in port. Princess has it every day and we love it. Yes we enjoy eating, we spend months NOT eating so we can overeat on a cruise! ;) Room service breakfast most mornings. I'm not a buffet fan.
I didn't really use the spa. I spoke to a few people that had multiple problems with their appointment times. Who knows. The relaxation room was nice, I often got tea there to take with me.
I'm trying not to leave things out but it's getting crazy long! I won't talk about what we did in port, I will write separate reviews for that on the corresponding message boards. I will say that we were VERY happy to dock in Cozumel! Go Captain Ron for making it happen! Tendering is just simply a pain.
I need to give a shout out to our favorite staff member on the ship, "Chicken" Richard, the wonderful drink server. If you met him, you'll know what I mean. He was QUITE the ladies man! He was funny, flirty, friendly, and so memorable. We tipped him quite a bit extra each time he brought us drinks. He remembered our names after meeting him once! True cruise employee. Can't say enough about him!
Disembarkation was a bit crazy as well, everyone's annoyed and fighting to get a cab. Yes there was a line, but not clearly marked, and it caused a bit of insanity. I think the NOLA port needs a bit more organization. They didn't even LOOK at my customs card OR passport. A little scary.
Ok, let's wrap it up. Final thoughts. I loved the Grandeur so much more then I ever thought I would. In fact, I would love to go on this ship again as a "side cruise" being that the price is so right! While I do prefer the larger ships I thought this was a gem of a ship, and staff. With that being said, Princess still remains our favorite line, large or small ship. Personal reasons, like the fact that the second seating shows are after dinner, more dining room time, we feel the food is MUCH better, I prefer the spa pools to the solarium, etc. But again, subjective. I will say that I honestly don't see a huge difference between Carnival and RCI. People like to say that the clientele on RCI is much classier...and maybe it's just my experience, but it seems pretty darn similar to me. Again, just my opinion. I think I'll be back on the Grandeur! Thank god we have a Crown Princess cruise already booked WITH aft balcony in October or I think I'd cry from post-cruise depression! Read Less