Embarkation was horrible. See previous reviews. Took us 2 1/2 hours .
Cabin: Spa Balcony
Who in the heck was our steward? No one spoke to us for 7 days. The room was serviced in the morning. No robes - had to ask someone in the hall ... Read More
Embarkation was horrible. See previous reviews. Took us 2 1/2 hours .
Cabin: Spa Balcony
Who in the heck was our steward? No one spoke to us for 7 days. The room was serviced in the morning. No robes - had to ask someone in the hall who said she was too busy to get them. The next day some old sort of damp robes were delivered.
There was no soap, or shampoo in the cabin. Glad I brought some.
Your time dining: We requested a table for 2 on 3 nights. Only got it one night. We never returned.
Serenity was heinous. There was no where to cool off. The bar was off in a cubby, the entrance to the water slides was there, guess I could have gone down those.
This was the worst ship in 20 years of cruising.
We did enjoy the violin group Black Diamonds and the rock band with the Have Mercy Horns. Read Less
We chose this cruise because it was very inexpensive and we did not have to fly to Norfolk. We did upgrade to a Cloud 9 Spa cabin for a fee.
If this was my first cruise I would never return. Because I know it can be fun and a great ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was very inexpensive and we did not have to fly to Norfolk. We did upgrade to a Cloud 9 Spa cabin for a fee.
If this was my first cruise I would never return. Because I know it can be fun and a great time, I was terribly disappointed in the experience and would never return to this ship. While waiting for my ride from terminal I wanted to tell those new arrivals to run and not get on the ship. I am questioning Carnival overall. They needed another week to complete the finishes.
• Arrived at our appointed time 3:00pm and the line was wrapped all around the outside of the terminal at least 2 hours deep and moving slowly. Thankfully it was not raining. It appeared as if no one told Carnival that their ship was leaving at 6:00pm that day. We set sail at 8:00pm.
• Paid for a Cloud 9 spa cabin 1102. This upcharge included access to the thermal suite in the Spa. It was also supposed to provide “spa” toiletries in your cabin, spa robe and slippers. After 2 days and no toiletries we asked what we were supposed to have. The Spa manager said Elemis products however, they were not on board. We saw a lady in the spa wearing a brand new spa robe and slippers. After asking for spa robes and slippers we received old robes left over that had obviously been washed and not dried several times.
• No ice bucket. When we asked for ice we received an uncovered plastic tub for which they sell multiple beers full of ice in our cabin. No tongs no cover, just a tub of ice. Bless her heart she brought it every day.
• If you do not have a spa cabin you can pay $129 for unlimited access to the thermal suite.
• The steam sauna when working was dark and water pooled on the floor with sediment. The dry sauna and infrared salt room had construction dust everywhere and there were obvious splinters on the newly constructed seating. All three were in various states of repair during the cruise.
• The warm thermal recliners were awesome. However, they are positioned directly under overhead lights which are too bright and the music is too loud coupled with the hammering of sauna repairs was anything but relaxing. In that same area is an aromatherapy color Chroma shower. Did not use. However, they will make a custom scrub for you to use in that shower.
• New equipment. Nice assortment.
• A large pile of construction debris left next to the rowers. Dust everywhere all over the floor, mats everywhere. Tape on all of the mirrors as if they just put them up that day. No one came during the entire trip to remove tape for construct junk or to even wipe down the floors.
• Guys Pig and Anchor was not open for business.
• The main dining rooms had been nicely refurbished. Brighter not hazy. However, that new carpet was shedding like a large hairy dog. Big tufts of carpet fiber were rolling like tumbleweed in the dining room and in the common areas.
• Lido was bright and large. Congested and very very long lines for no apparent reason.
• Food quality was decent nothing new or different. However, desserts where better, fewer offerings but more of an American flavor pallet.
• Seafood shack was greasy and under cooked. It could be a winner if they tried harder. Was not busy.
• The Italian restaurant had tasty lunch portions of pasta for free. However, there was dust on all of the chairs as if they just pulled them out of storage that day.
• There is an Asian place in addition to sushi. They offer 3 choices during lunch of various ramen, soupy rice things in bowl. They will not survive.
• Sea Day Afternoon Tea – the only free tea on board is plain Lipton regular or Decaf and Bigalow Green tea. All other tea is $2.95 for an unrecognizable brand. Tea cakes, scones, sandwiches etc. were acceptable and plentiful.
• Sea Day Brunch was okay.
Ship overall condition
• Lots of unfinished areas. New carpet on stairs 8 out of 10 stairs finished with that strip but they did not come back and do the last 2 stairs. Common all over the ship. No one did that deck by deck walk through for finishes and delivery.
• I’ve mentioned several times the dust and construction debris.
• Contractors and engineers all over the ship having sailed from Spain. They were very hard working men. You could see they were working very hard fixing things.
• At 10 am on several days the toilets in staterooms stopped working with no warning.
• On several days without warning no cold water in shower. Yes no COLD water. That explains the notice posted in shower warning about scalding water.
• ATMs out of money on day 2.
• Could not use sail pass card in casino on a few days.
• The expensive WI/FI was not working for anyone. Was non-existent or spotty at best. No refunds.
• No map view in any common area or on the dedicated channel in your cabin. No ocean view camera. Was is not plugged in?
• Captain did not make ONE announcement. No welcome aboard. No daily greeting, ships position, destination, rate of speed. NOTHING. No bye get off my ship.
• Decent normal selection of merchandise.
• Very very small section for alcohol.
• I got sick on day 2 with cough and sore throat one day I purchased a bag of cough drops for $3.99 and noted the quantity and variety cold meds. The next day I purchased a $17.99 tiny bottle of Dayquil one of the last 2 bottles on the shelf. Obviously other people were sick too.
• Sigh…they did their best with the 7 people in the “fun squad”. The cruise director “Flying Scotsman” has too many jobs. He even headlined his own show in the Limelight lounge. The also did the daily activity announcements. The entertainment on this ship was not as good as on other ships. Many attempts at Motown references, Harlem Renaissance, Michael Jackson nods, but NO BLACK PEOPLE in the Fun Squad or in the entertainment group singing or dancing. How could that be?
• Again we have this Cruise director trying to prevent people who are carrying their own luggage from getting off the ship. Normally all self-debarkation starts when ship is cleared and anyone wanting to carry off can go. NOPE, he attempted unsuccessfully to make people wait for their deck to be called for self-debarkation starting in the bottom of the ship. So after waiting 2 hrs for deck 11 to be called we took the elevator to 3 to get in the mix. We could not even get out of the elevator for 20 min. It took an hour to turn the corner and get off the ship. RIDICULOUS. Read Less
Norfolk is near where we now live. We used to cruise out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride once a year (sometimes more). Since we had NEVER had a bad cruise on the Pride, we were eager to see what the refurbished Sunrise had to offer. ... Read More
Norfolk is near where we now live. We used to cruise out of Baltimore on the Carnival Pride once a year (sometimes more). Since we had NEVER had a bad cruise on the Pride, we were eager to see what the refurbished Sunrise had to offer. We were extremely disappointed, so much so that we are rethinking whether to ever cruise with Carnival again. Embarkation was a cruel joke. It was if Carnival was doing this for the very first time and didn't have a clue how to get passengers into long-term parking or onto the ship. Our cabin (Riviera deck) had a terrible vibration that kept us awake for much of the first night. After we complained the next morning, engineering discovered a large fan directly below our cabin that was about to fail (my guess, possibly catastrophically, given how bad the room-shaking rumble was). In the past, food in the main dining room had been a consistent bright spot. In our opinion, Carnival food on our previous cruises had been on par with some pricier lines such as Celebrity, Holland America, or Princess (but below Viking Ocean and River). Not this time; not even in the premium steakhouse. Ingredients seemed sub-standard and food preparation was also lacking. The library had been removed and there was very little public space where you could go to read or have a conversation. In an obvious effort to extract maximum revenue from passengers, there was also lots of annoying nickel-and-diming throughout the week. Debarkation was a relative joy as we carried our luggage off the ship, passed painlessly through customs, and were finally able to put Carnival Sunrise in our rear-view mirror. Read Less
Picked the cruise due to origination from Norfolk. Also read that this ship had been just been refitted and the price was reasonable.
Embarkation was a problem with long lines and open to weather. Fortunately it did not rain as many ... Read More
Picked the cruise due to origination from Norfolk. Also read that this ship had been just been refitted and the price was reasonable.
Embarkation was a problem with long lines and open to weather. Fortunately it did not rain as many would have been soaked. once on board things went pretty smooth. Buffet was extremely busy and not enough space and food was warm but not hot. First night dinner was average with dinner warm and a strong smell of sewage just outside the restaurant entrance. Many of the public restrooms were closed and many rooms on the 6th deck had toilet problems. Customer service said this was first trip after refit and problems are expected. The toilet problems went on for two days. The movie channel worked sporadically and the internet system was a joke. The last day of the trip was the first day that we had a "hot" not lukewarm breakfast. Most of the crew members were good as they did not cause the ship problems and they did the best they could. The entertainment was poor with the exception of the Cruise Director "Chris" who was the best we have seen on any cruise. This was our first and last Carnival cruise. Too many issues. The best decision we made was to pick a 7 day cruise as opposed to a 14 day cruise. Read Less
First run fresh from the yards, Norfolk was easy on, just don't get there before your boarding time because you will wait. We had the aft balcony stateroom, nice large balcony. The ship looks great for a 20 yr old vessel. Food was ... Read More
First run fresh from the yards, Norfolk was easy on, just don't get there before your boarding time because you will wait. We had the aft balcony stateroom, nice large balcony. The ship looks great for a 20 yr old vessel. Food was better than we expected, steak house knocked it out of the park. Seafood shack was very good as was the Bbq and of course the burgers, deli and pizza also good.Service was a little confused in the dining room the first few nights but did come together, We do not eat sushi on cruise ships so we passed on this and we did enjoy thr italian restaurant.
All in all the ship did seem a little crowded at times, 3008 on our 7 day run to Grand Turk, Half Moon and Freeport, we have visited these ports before and feel you only need to see these ports once so we stayed aboard and we enjoyed the ship on these days. Read Less
We chose this inaugural cruise of the Sunrise as we were travelling Virginia, D.C. and Outer Banks of North Carolina at the time so departure port was very convenient. This was going to be our first trip to the Caribbean and we hoped that ... Read More
We chose this inaugural cruise of the Sunrise as we were travelling Virginia, D.C. and Outer Banks of North Carolina at the time so departure port was very convenient. This was going to be our first trip to the Caribbean and we hoped that Carnival would similar standards to Holland America as they are the same company. Although we are not big party animals or boozers, we got the impression from pre-cruise reviews that there were plenty of opportunities for quiet times to enjoy the hot tub and adult-only space called Serenity. We are obviously not Carnival’s target market.
We arrived at Norfolk port at 2 pm for 3pm boarding. As boarding was strictly scheduled, we figured we’d just walk aboard, have a coffee and snack, then unpack our bags. We had last eaten at 10am. We were told in the boarding line there would be snacks, sandwiches and pizza available when we got on board. Boarding took 3 1/2 hours! No snacks or water were available in line or when we boarded; snack bars were all closed. Our dinner was booked for 8:30. Bartenders gave preferential service to alcohol consumers over those of us who needed water.
Most of our luggage arrived in our cabin before we did, and the cabin was very nice. However, before we could unpack we had to do a thorough dusting with wet facecloths as all surfaces were covered in sawdust. A female cabin steward introduced herself shortly after our arrival and asked our preferences for cleaning, robes etc. We never saw her again, nor did we ever get our robes. Cleaning was hit and miss with dirty rags found behind lamps, on floor, etc. We didn’t get water glasses until day 4. I asked a male cabin attendant if there was hair conditioner or body lotion provided. No, you have to buy these. Hairdryer had a concealed plug connected in a drawer with a 1 foot cord. Would have to put your head in the drawer to use it!
When we booked our cruise early February, we were told “anytime dining” was fully booked and our only choice was late dining at 8:30pm which doesn’t suit our schedule or health. Carnival would not budge on this for us despite digestive issues and being early risers. We spoke to a very helpful maître d our first evening and she changed our dining quite easily to 6:00 if we were willing to eat with another couple, which we were. When we arrived next night for dinner at our assigned table, the couple we were put with refused to let us sit with them. After much fuss, the dining room manager asked us to wait in the bar outside until they could find us somewhere else. We waited an hour and weren’t even offered a drink or anything to make up for this embarrassing fiasco.
Our waiters in the dining room for the rest of the week were great, but food was just okay. There is no real butter on board, only watery whipped butter, and no cheese taste to the cheesecake, or real cream in the desserts. Meat and fish were mediocre quality and portions were small. Steaks were tough. When I ordered a bottle of wine the first night (to be kept for subsequent nights), the waiter dropped the cork in the floor, then picked it up and put it back on my bottle.
The Lido was a disaster. Unlike Holland America where you go to a food station for whatever you want, such as salad, fruit, dessert, eggs, sandwiches, pasta, etc., one must wait in a painfully long slow line just to get a box of cereal or piece of toast. Oh yeah, no butter for toast. Toast is premade and cold. Only 2 fruits offered all week. You can get eggs at another station, but nothing to go with it. Hygiene was lacking. Sanitizer dispensers were usually empty and hand washing stations had no soap. Coffee and beverages were regularly slopped all over the floor — why not have a coffee server making the rounds at breakfast.
Nice desserts served after lunch, but only one station with long lines. Guy BBQ got shut down on day 2 for some reason, but Guys burger bar was good, as was the pizza. Mexican Cantina lacked hygiene precautions for condiments, and the added cost seafood stand was a rip off for simple fish and chips which should have been included for a lunch option.
The adult only Serenity area is a joke. All lounges are scooped up at the crack of dawn and hogged all day — no enforcement when held by towels and books. Most loungers have no umbrella or shelter from sun. Too high to climb on rough sea days. Area shared with kids running up stairs to get to water slide.
The hot tubs and pools were jammed with people lounging on the edges with their drinks; too crowded to get in for a dip. The excessively loud music and rah-rah-rah yelling of the “fun team” around the pool area was really annoying (is this kind of forced fun really fun?). Overall we found the ship just had too many people to find a spot to read a book, have a conversation or just relax and watch the ocean.
The ship itself was quite filthy and ill prepared. Washrooms we’re closed as toilets backed up, bands had to play ‘unplugged’ due to electrical failures, toilets and showers stopped working in cabins with no explanation given, and staff just standing around eating areas while tables went uncleared.
The stop at Half Moon Cay was the highlight; most beautiful beach and waters I have ever been to. Only complaint was lack of shade or umbrellas in the afternoon. Would have like to stay longer but couldn’t find shelter. Freeport doesn’t have anything to offer unless you pay for an excursion to get away from this huge industrial port. Grand Turk was okay except for blasting really offensive rap music on beach, certainly not suitable for young kids. Read Less
•Background information- This was my 26th cruise - my third with Carnival. I had my 79th birthday on the cruise. I use a mobility scooter because I can't walk far or stand for long. My partner was a younger woman friend. It was ... Read More
•Background information- This was my 26th cruise - my third with Carnival. I had my 79th birthday on the cruise. I use a mobility scooter because I can't walk far or stand for long. My partner was a younger woman friend. It was her first cruise. We went to Nassau, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk.
This cruise had really high winds and rough seas a majority of the time that we were not in port. My friend was seasick the first sea day (formal night) and a number of other people said they were also seasick. Sometimes they closed the decks because of rough weather. And there were two medical evacuations - one in Amber Cove (reported broken bones) and one in Nassau.
•Travel to embarkation port and embarkation
My husband drove us to the port and dropped us off. We left at 8, and stopped a couple of places on the way down. Even with the stops, we should have completed the 171 mile trip by 12:30. But since the last couple of miles took half an hour, we did not get to the embarkation point until after 1:00.
The lady at the port check-in took away my refillable water bottle (which I purchased for the trip) because she said we were not allowed to take any plastic on board. According to Carnival, this was not Carnival policy. It was particularly silly because there were plastic water bottles in our room which we could purchase. Other than that annoyance, check-in was quick and we could go to our rooms right away and drop our carry-on luggage. We did not get the rest of our luggage until after dinner.
They would not say when the lifeboat drill was. And when they had it, they took all of us mobility impaired people into a room so we didn't have to go out on deck which was OK but there did not appear to be an check on who was at the drill and who was not. Our drill was over before the one of the people out on deck. When the drill was over, we went out to see the 5 o'clock sailaway, but they were still loading the ship. We finally went inside at 5:40. I think they left about 6, but we wanted to eat so we missed it. I really wanted to take photos of some of the harbor, so this was disappointing. I don't know the reason for the delay.
I thought the ship looked a little tired. It did not have the overexuberant decor that I associate with Carnival which some people criticize but I didn't mind. The colors of some areas didn't appeal to me but I liked it better than on some ships I've been on. The ship was decorated nicely for Halloween
The elevator doors had mirrors on the outside, but it would have been nice to have a mirror on the back wall of the elevator too - that way I could see whether I could back out on my scooter or whether I was going to run over someone. The elevators were large and fast. But the atrium elevators were on a different system than the main elevators so you couldn't just push one button and have them all stop. You had to run back and forth to look and sometimes I wouldn't get to an elevator in time before the doors shut.
There was no way to go all the way around the ship outside unless you were on deck 10 (and then you had to go through some stateroom areas). On deck 3, if I wanted to see both sides, I had to go through the atrium. Some of the thresholds for going out on the deck on deck 3 were too sharp and steep and the scooter (and wheelchairs that other people used) would get hung up. But I know they could do this better as SOME of the threshold were just fine.
There was not enough space in the public areas - the atrium on deck 3 and outside the dining rooms on deck 3 were way too small.
We went to the theatre for the disembarkation lecture and it did not look like there would be good sight lines from the main area on deck 4.
The pools are small - I would have done the water slide, but it was always closed due to high winds unless we were in port, and in port I was doing other stuff.
The computer area was easy to use (except that I had trouble climbing up on the stools to use the computer next to the printer). I did not understand at first that once I logged on, shutting down the computer did not log me off - I had to physically log off each time. I really liked the one flat rate computer charge for the whole cruise - no having to keep track of minutes. The internet was pretty slow - slower than what I've had recently on other ships. But I could use it in the room just fine.
I went into the gym once and tried to use the exer-cycle which I use several times a week at my own gym, but I found it too hard to use and gave up.
There are no restrooms near the restaurants. There should be a closer restroom.
•Activities-There were a lot of activities and they were back to back with no space between them. For instance, I went to some trivia - it didn't seem very organized. Everyone was on their own. And there were three trivia games one after the other in the same place with no space in-between.
We went to the Halloween festivities, but the parade was too late for us. I don't know if my friend would have played Bingo - we couldn't tell what the charge was for a card so she didn't try. My friend like the activities out by the pool at night (70s night, 80s night, etc).
•Service - service was adequate. I know that the room stewards have more to do now, and they did leave us nice towel animals every night. But we found a power strip and a bungee cord under the bed left from previous passengers.
The waiters in the restaurant did not remember that I don't drink coffee, or at least they always asked me if I wanted coffee. Otherwise they were most accommodating, including bringing my friend a house salad that wasn't on the menu.
Carnival seems to put great emphasis on all the stewards and waiters calling us by name. And they try very hard to do that. They succeed with me, but my friend had a somewhat unusual name which was difficult for them. Personally I think this is a shallow immitation of friendship and an unnecessary burden on the workers when they should be concentrating on doing their jobs instead of remembering everyone's names.
•Dining - We were to have My Time Dining in the Sunrise restaurant. Since our cabin is on deck 3 in the bow, it means we have to go up in an elevator to deck 5, go aft and go down in an elevator to deck 3 to get to it. I found out that we were supposed to check in on deck 5 first and when they had a table for us they would call and we could go down to deck 3 - that is because there is no space to wait there on deck 3. That was a totally 100% unacceptable, even if I could have walked down the steps and didn't have to use the elevators.
They should only assign people to eat in the Sunrise dining room if they do not have a stateroom on deck 3 and they should NEVER have Anytime Dining there. People above deck 5 can go to the stern of the ship and go down to the restaurant and people below deck 3 can go to the stern and go up to the restaurant, but people on deck 3 are screwed if they are assigned to Sunrise. So I asked for early dining in the Sunset restaurant which is right here by the room. We did get it, fortunately. The restaurant never appeared to be full.
The waiters danced every night, and I for one could do without that but my friend liked it. I expected them to sing Happy Birthday to me, but they did not.
Restaurants- I tried JJ's at lunch one day and was not impressed. I wanted stir fy and not stir-steamed - it turned the meat to tasteless globs and the vegetables were limp rather than crisp. I went to Cucina del Capitano for lunch on embarkation day, and did not return. I usually got help with the buffet in the main Lido restaurant, but this didn't happen in JJ's or Cucina.
I got a burger from Guy's and it was delicous. I also got breakfast at the BlueIguana (their version of ranchos hueveros) and it was also very good.
I liked the Lido buffet although it was difficult for me to negotiate (I couldn't easily reach the back row of dishes, I couldn't see the labels as they were over my head and I have trouble negotiating with the scooter without running over people while I am holding a plate of food), but almost always the staff would rush to help me and would also find me a seat and get me a drink
We had room service four times, and it was prompt. My friend ordered coffee once and it tasted funny to her - like the coffee pot or cup had not been cleaned. But I don't drink coffee so I can't address that.
The menus have been cut to the bone - there is no longer an 'anytime menu' (as such) although there are some items that appear every day. The breakfast menu in the Sunrise is called Brunch and they have breakfast and lunch items. The Lunch menu has only entres and desserts. The ice cream choices do not change much so I stopped asking, and there does not seem to be an option for a sundae type ice cream dessert.
Food - The bread at dinner was good. They had nice cranberry rolls which I especially liked. Some of the desserts were good. The snails were good and so were the braised short ribs which were very tender.
I drink a glass of cranberry juice every day. Some cruise lines will have cranberry juice (HAL, AMAWaterways, Celebrity) and some charge bar prices (RCCL). Since I thought Carnival might be one of those that charged for it, I brought a bottle of cranberry juice with me. And I was correct. One of the people at the Cruise Critics meeting said they charged her for each glass of cranberry juice. A glass of cranberry juice is not worth $5.00
Carnival does not do Caesar salad well - it is gloppy with dressing. (Noted on my previous cruise with Carnival). Sometimes the food (like potatoes) was/were cold when they should have been hot.
Very often, the food was not what was described or was different from what I expected from reading the description. Herbed dressing - no bread in the dressing - seemed to be some kind of fruit or vegetable concoction. Caprese salad - a lump of cheese, a few leaves of lettuce and a whole tomato. (I expected alternate tomato and cheese slices). "Locally caught" crab soup - very little crab in it and I wondered where the Local was where it was caught - we were in Nassau. Junkanoo pot which was to have shrimp, calamari and chicken with pineapple and pepper. But I didn't see any pineapple. It actually did have shrimp, a little calamari and one piece of chicken, but it also had mussels and quite a few scallops.
Sometimes they took a good dish and screwed it up. I had the ox tongue, which I like, but they put carmelized onions with it. Yuk.
•Entertainment - Neither of us went to any shows
•Port & shore excursion
Three out of four of the excursions we signed up for were canceled. My friends snorkeling excursion in Nassau and our SNUBA excursion in Grand Turk were both canceled, and my friend's Segway tour had to be rescheduled.
Nassau - My friend had never been snorkeling and she particularly wanted to swim in the ocean. But the snorkeling excursion was canceled due to 'lack of participation'. I wonder whether it might also have been because of the recent hurricane. After she saw the photos I took in 2002 of "The Dig" at Atlantis, she really wanted to go there. So we signed up for that excursion
The tour included a van to and from Atlantis, but the minibuses didn't have a place for luggage so we had to fold up the scooter - which was easy to do. (The excursion was $60 and the van to and from was included - the admission to the aquarium part is $45).
We had a very nice girl as a guide - She took us all through the resort and casino (there were four Chihuly glass sculptures) and guided us through the aquarium. There were large swarms of fish, but the water was not as clear as I remember. The guide said she had been doing the job for four years, but when I asked where some of the things we had seen in 2002 were, she didn't know as she was in school then. Afterwards she told us how we could get to the predator tank and they were feeding the sharks at 3, so we went over there. Eventually we found an entrance for me that didn't have steps. My friend saw them feed the sharks at least from a distance. She didn't have the chance to swim. Quite a few of the beaches and restaurants at Atlantis were closed. We did some shopping there (they said their machine was not working so we had to pay cash) and then got into the van to go back to the ship - but the scooter was still on the sidewalk.
Apparently there was a Youth Parade in downtown Nassau and the streets were blocked so we couldn't get back to the ship. Oasis left at 3 and Enchantment was to leave at 4. There were some folks on the shuttle from Enchantment who were worried about getting back but the lady in charge of the van shuttles said they emailed the ship and told them that they would be late back, so they wouldn't miss the ship. And Enchantment was still there when we got back.
Amber Cove: I did not do a tour with Carnival at this port, and I did not sign my friend up for snorkeling because I thought the seas would be too rough - and I was correct. We had a very nice tour of Puerto Plata with Marysol tours. We were picked up at the port, and visited the Rum factory, a jewelry and souvenir shop, a cigar factory, the cathedral and the fort. We did not see the Amber Museum or the chocolate factory, and we did not get to ride the aerial tram because of lack of time. I had thought this would be a bus tour with drivebys of various places. It was not. We actually went in and visited each place. The price for this tour (driver and English speaking guide) was $40 without the aerial tram. Marysol refunded the $10 we paid for the aerial tram ride.
Grand Turk: My friend did the Segway Tour which she enjoyed very much. I could not do that tour as I could not stand for that long, so I was signed up to do Snuba with her. I was to meet her on the dock at 11. I went out on the dock and stopped by the booth where the Snuba and the Segway people were, and she told me that Snuba had just been canceled as it was too rough and we wouldn't see anything. So I went over to the snorkel booth and they said all their tours were leaving by 9 and there were no afternoon tours. Then I went to where the guy who dispatches the taxis was and asked him and he said we could go to Pillory Beach and rent equipment there. I went down to the Carnival beach (right at the port) and saw that they rented snorkel equipment there too. Then I went back to the ship and confirmed that the SNUBA had been canceled, took off my bathing suit and reorganized. When my friend came back I told her the news, and asked whether she wanted to snorkel here, ($16 rental), go to Pillory Beach ($8 taxi each way plus unknown rental but she would probably see more interesting stuff), or just go and have a tour with me. She opted to go and snorkel right there.
She went back and changed into a two piece suit and when she got back, I gave her the underwater camera and some minimal snorkeling instruction, and left her to it. She actually saw some fish, and apparently the swim area goes out past the drop-off and she could see the top part of the 'wall' there.
I took a cab into town to visit some places (like the museum) which I had not been able to visit in 2008 when we were here before because it was right after Hurricane Ike
We were unavoidably late back to Norfolk due to stopping in Nassau for a medical evacuation. We were to have arrived at 8 a.m. and we were not docked until about 1:00 pm. When we got the disembarkation information, they knew how late we were going to be, but they still said they wanted us out of our rooms by 11:00 - I did not see the need for that because there are no passengers getting on this ship - it is running empty from Norfolk to Charleston. Later they changed the time to 12:00, but we did not get that message because they didn't broadcast it over the PA. And really there was no need for us to leave our rooms at all, since they did not have to get ready for more passengers.
We were told that there wouldn't be enough time to go to lunch, which wasn't correct - we could have gone and eaten lunch. Since we woke up late, that meant that we did not get either breakfast or lunch.
We wheelchair/scooter people were sequestered in the Sunset restaurant to wait. They did give us coffee and pastry, but it wasn't lunch. If we wanted to go to the bathroom, we had to go across the atrium (no one who was not disembarking was to be in the atrium) and through the big double doors.
We did not get the announcements in there. Apparently it took from 1 to 3 for all the people who were carrying off all their luggage to disembark. I do not think all those people were carrying off their luggage. I think they lied. Even though we had disembarkation #1, we did not get off until 3:30. My friends husband who was picking us up had to wait for us from 11:00 to 3:30
They should have let us go to lunch, and they should have let us stay in our rooms where we could use our bathroom and watch TV and be comfortable.
After she got her sea legs (she was seasick the evening of the first sea day), my friend had a marvelous time. But the medical evacuation meant she could not get to her job and that meant she did not get paid. She couldn't really afford to lose that money, but she will survive, and she had a good time.
I had a good time - none of the problems we experienced interfered with that. I got to revisit the Atlantis aquarium, see a new port in the DR, and I finally got to go to the museum in Grand Turk. Read Less
We thought of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore, but doing so costs us a whole day at sea. I would rather take that day in a foreign port than at sea. Being from Tidewater, I truly appreciate the convenience of leaving from ... Read More
We thought of taking a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore, but doing so costs us a whole day at sea. I would rather take that day in a foreign port than at sea. Being from Tidewater, I truly appreciate the convenience of leaving from Norfolk. Plus, Grand Turk and Amber Cove, DR are new ports for us, another reason to take this cruise.
We cruised last year on the Carnival Splendor so I would like to make some comparisons. One factor I noticed which was much different, in a very positive way, was that there was a marked decrease in the attempts to push liquor, jewelry and photographs. This created a more relaxed ambience. There was much less rowdiness on this ship, in fact, my fellow passengers seemed friendlier and more pleasant to be around. The engineering on this ship was much better as the Carnival Splendor had a sewer odor that could be quite pungent and unappealing. In fact, things like our showers and sinks, seemed to run perfectly. On the negative side, I really missed the live band and dedicated singers ( I think there were only five entertainers, as opposed to the twelve on the Splendor. Also, the service in the main dining room ( Sunset Restaurant) was good but not superior as it was on the Splendor.
No problem with embarkation. Smooth and friendly.
QUARTERS: Our cabins was outside window, Oceanview. Carnival ergonomics are excellent and we had plenty of room. We lacked a refrigerator but that did not bother us. However, one is allowed to bring on 12 soda cans ( no water bottles or green tea), so it would have been helpful to have them cold. It was my birthday and the decorations were very nice. Plus, a wonderful couple I know, left us a bottle of sparkling cider. The cabin was kept immaculately by our Steward. He was friendly and helpful. Only complaint was that the outside window was a bit dirty and should be cleaned.
FOOD: Generally, I liked the food. I admit it is not nearly as good as it was 12 years ago when we took our first Carnival cruise, but there are highs and lows. Breakfast is fine The omelets are excellent, with short lines. Made to order. Oatmeal is well prepared. I love the soups, especially the cold soups. Their famed chocolate volcano melting cake is very good, though my wife does it better. I liked Guys burgers. Service is quick and friendly. The fries are similar to Five Guys, although appropriately about 1/5th as many since this is only One Guys. Burgers a bit greasy but I like greasy burgers. The Deli is very good. Real, non-pressed turkey. They also serve bagels and lox there. Another tip is the 4 cheese pizza. There is 24 hour pizza and this was a favorite of mine. Tips I learned about late: the Mongolian Wok and Cucina del Capitano, serve excellent food and are free for lunch. The lobster was good and one could eat as many lobster tails as one wants. Some of the meats less so. The Indian food choice at dinner is below mediocre. The desserts rather bland except the tropical fruit plate. Be sure to order this early in the cruise. For some reason, the fruit is super for the first few nights and then becomes less generous and more over-ripe later. The sea bass is very good.
ENTERTAINMENT: As mentioned earlier, I miss the live band and dedicated singers and dancers. The dancers are very good dancers but average singers. Also, the first two nights the production shows, Playlist Productions, were a repeat from two years ago when we sailed on the Carnival Glory. The performers were better and I liked their vibrancy and enthusiasm, but the shows are a bit short and I do not like repetition. The best show was the Studio VIP production. The Epic Rock show was very good, but since my wife is a former Disco Queen we liked the Studio VIP show more. The visuals on the Epic Rock show are imaginative and stunning. The other two shows were a Latin show and a Motown show, but since we had seen the same shows two years ago, we would rank these below the others.
I enjoyed the Cruise Director, Emma's enthusiasm and friendliness. Reading other reviews that found her "Hello lovlies" greetings irritating, I found it quirky and airy. She was not all over the ship and as funny as the previous Cruise Director on the Splendor, Kevin, but I think she handled her chores well and did a very good job.
My wife and I like the trivia contests; if you like trivia contests this is the cruise for you.
Musically, I think that the group Deja Vu was very good. Talented and a nice selection which matched the music of the Production show. A couple duo, Two of a Kind, was also very good.
One major suggestion would be to PLAY CARIBBEAN MUSIC. If Carnival does not want to hire a reggae, soco or steel drum band, at least play this type of music when heading and traveling in the Caribbean music. We hear plenty of the usual American music back in the United States.
I attended the Military Appreciation Gathering and thought this was very well down. There were a few WW II vets and it was interesting to see them. Some of the heart felt remarks by my fellow Vets were inspiring.
We went to a number of the shows in the Punchliner Comedy Club. Get your seats early as the club fills up fast, though there always seems to be a seat on the sides. But better to see the comedian rather than view it on the TV's. Al Romero was our favorite and had my wife laughing hysterically. Chris Wiles and Spike Davis were also funny but not quite as funny as Mr. Romero.
Two other shows in the Liquid Lounge included a hypnotist, Rich Gazzi, and a singer Consuela Ivy. Mr. Gazzi, who will be performing at the Funnybone in Virginia Beach. Is very amusing and his show was a of fun. He got the participants to do some amusing things. Some of the subjects seemed to be acting, and it seemed they really were not hypnotized, but otherwise, we enjoyed his show. Ms. Ivy is a dynamic and enjoyable singer with a great stage presence. We enjoyed her show. My only complaint , which is true with a number of entertainers, is the ceaseless efforts to get the audience involved.. I am a static sort of person, who comes to shows to be entertained; not to be a part of the show. She is immensely likable and and easy lady to listen to otherwise.
My wife and I took a group dance class from Laura, one of the dancers. She taught us the cha-cha and was an excellent and friendly teacher, since I am not particularly graceful.
Since it was my birthday, I indulged myself in a spa treatment. I signed up for the men's only package ( 60 minutes). The spa staff was gracious. The treatment included a Deep Cleanse Facial,Scalp, Neck and Shoulder Massage, a double shave and a Pressure Point hand and arm message. I was somewhat taken aback when the masseuse was a male, but it turned out to be better than my initial reluctance justified. My skin felt like a baby's when he was finished with me.
The gym was more than adequate and never seemed crowded. However, it may take an effort to find a machine with a working television. Do not forget your headphones.
EXCURSIONS: We took three excursions. All three I would recommend. Since we had been to the Bahamas and Atlantis, we chose the Sea and See Tour. We boarded a van which took us past a number of sites in Nassau, and viewed Parliament, the Governor's Mansion, the Supreme Court, Heffer's Sporting Good Store, and then to the famous Queen's Staircase, and Fort Fincastle. We then boarded a boat for an interesting tour along Pleasure Island. The tour was informative and humorous. We were taken to the Seaworld Explorer. The coral formations and interesting and beautiful schools of fish were astounding. The windows could have been clearer and cleaner though.
Our second excursion was the best. CRYSTAL CAVE EXPEDITION AND CABARETE BEACH WITH LUNCH. We took an hour long trip to the Caves of Cabarete. The guide was excellent and re-assured my reluctant wife that she could descend into the cave. with a railing on one side and a rope on the other. The cave is small and difficult to navigate. Our flashlights helped us see some fascinating formations...our imaginations ran wild. We then were led on a tour of the flora of the area with a number of interesting medicinal trees. We then visited the world famous Cabarete Beach. The beach is gorgeous. The meal we enjoyed was the biggest surprise of the cruise. It was prepared gourmet style and far exceeded our expectations for lunch. I ordered sea bass which was a large and tasty portion. I would highly recommend this tour.
The final excursion on Grand Turk, Coast to Coast Grand Turk Safari.This is a very thorough and enjoyable tour. However, though I regret not doing one of the snorkeling tours. ( My wife does not snorkel). There is a very nice free beach on both sides of the port. I noticed that many of the resorts were open but for sail. Grand Turk is a very nice island, the people are friendly so hopefully the economy will do better. It is English and is more like Bermuda than the other Caribbean islands.
DEBARKATION: The ship was already badly delayed. There was a medical emergency which necessitated that the ship return to Nassau rather than head directly back from Grand Turk. Debarkation was very slow. Perhaps, this was due to terrorist fears since Virginia, New York and Texas were dubbed as targets the day before elections.
All in all we enjoyed the cruise very much. We thought the ship seemed to be in good condition and we noticed the ship was constantly being cleaned.
We hope other lines will use Norfolk as a port to increase our choices, but until then, we will stick with Carnival. Read Less
this was the second cruise for my wife and I both being on Carnival. The first was a 5 day cruise last Oct. out of Norfolk Va and the second being this past week on an 8 day cruise also out of Norfolk .Everything on board was exceptional ... Read More
this was the second cruise for my wife and I both being on Carnival. The first was a 5 day cruise last Oct. out of Norfolk Va and the second being this past week on an 8 day cruise also out of Norfolk .Everything on board was exceptional from Guys Burgers to Farenheight555 to the evening dining room meals. They fed you well. Entertainment every evening was great especially the Hypnosis show. We laughed so hard through the whole show. All personnel made you feel welcome the entire cruise.
On shore we enjoyed the bus tour at Amber Cove. 80 % of the people there drive small Moped scooters . Couldn't believe they sometimes haul the whole family on one scooter as many as 10 in one instance. The liquor was very cheap there along with the tobacco products. Grand Turk was beautiful and the ocean water crystal clear where you could see all different color fish swimming right around you. I got to experience a $20 cheeseburger and the wife got a great $20 taco salad. Little pricey but really good. The ride on board the ship was somewhat rough due to heavy winds both going and coming back and the emergency medical detour to Nassau on the way back was a first for us. This had to be done and hopefully the patient recovers. We just got an extra 5 hour cruise out of it. The ones with plane tickets may have had to make some changes but everyone never complained that we know of. Once we got to the terminal things did not go as well as everyone including us hoped for. They didn't have enough help lined up to unload all the suitcases off the ship into the customs area. It was over 4 hours before we got to customs and we were ones of the first due to my disability. We finally left at 4 pm and were originally supposed to disembark about 11 a.m. The ship was supposed to be in South Carolina for another cruise leaving at 7 p.m. so don't know how Carnival handles something like this? Norfolk needs to be better organized at this terminal or they will lose all cruises out of here! Not blaming the cruise line at all. Read Less
CRUISING WITH A FAMILY OF 107 KIDS PLUS AN INFANT
7 RCCL cruises, and I'd have to say this might have been the best one yet! I'm trying to think of something negative to say, but there's really nothing worth complaining ... Read More
CRUISING WITH A FAMILY OF 107 KIDS PLUS AN INFANT
7 RCCL cruises, and I'd have to say this might have been the best one yet! I'm trying to think of something negative to say, but there's really nothing worth complaining about. Its sad that anyone reading this will get no help from embarkation and dis-em info because the last RCCL cruise from Norfolk has left for the season - Norfolk was a beautiful port to cruise from, and the ship had a true air of Southern hospitality from all the Virginians, Kentuckians, No. Carolinians on board.
Pre-Cruise: Spent a night in a local hotel, had friends drive us to the port in the morning, left our two cars in the hotel lot for free. Spent $100 for a hotel room which included a dinner and breakfast, as opposed to spending $135 to park at the port. For anyone reading this, wherever you cruise from, if driving, look into hotel deals that will include parking - many offer such deals, they just don't advertise them.
Embarkation: A breeze except for traffic. Arrived 11:30AM - minor lines, onboard within 15 minutes. Up to the Windjammer to begin a week of 5 to 6 meals a day. Cabins were available at 1PM.
Cabins: Minor disappointment that nothing noticeable was done to cabins at Drydock. There was some wear to the woodwork, but everything was spotlessly clean and in perfect working order. We had a D1 balcony stateroom. The balcony is about 4 by 6 - very small with two chairs and a table, but useful. Two cabins (7626 & 7628, adjoining) for the six of us which included a 1 year old. Very comfortable beds (even the sofa bed - futon) in my opinion. Our pre-night stay was in a very nice 3 star hotel with very soft mattresses which messed up my back - it took a couple of nights on RCCL's fine bedding to get it back to normal. Typical RCCL bathroom with a shower curtain. If you bring some small weights (fridge clip-on magnets worked great) and attach them to the shower curtain it stays in place. Otherwise the shower curtain will be your best friend throughout the cruise. Storage space was more than we've had in other cabins - quite sufficient.
RIDDLE #1: Why do wives appreciate the toilets on cruise ships? Answer: Because husbands have to close the lid to flush and therefore can't leave the seat up.
Food: No complaints here. The five adults among us were totally pleased with all our Dining Room dinners. Our 1 Year Old granddaughter was treated like an absolute princess everywhere onboard, but especially in the DR. After our first night a bowl of diced fruit was waiting for her every night as we came to dinner, and they truly fawned over her (and all of us for that matter), at each dinner. We had one lunch (last day) in the DR, and my wife is very sorry we didn't utilize it more - a killer Salad Bar, along with many unique lunch choices. Had several Room Service breakfasts, and some excellent Spinach/Artichoke dip from RS also.
Note to Readers: this review is kind of rambling all over the place - you might want to fasten your seat belt. While I"m thinking about it, I wanted to mention some items I brought: duct tape, bungee cords, super glue. I actually used them all. The bungees and duct tape held my Yankee flag on the balcony. The super glue was used by a fellow M&M'er who broke her glasses and used the glue for a temporary fix. Oh: clothespins too. Handy on the balcony and in the shower (the showers have a little clothesline for hanging wet suits, etc.).
RIDDLE #2: Why did my cruise remind me of a book I was reading, THE TRAGIC HISTORY OF THE SEA? Because it was a tragedy that the cruise only lasted nine days! We never did more than a 7 day before. I was wondering if 9 days was overkill. NOPE! I'm still trying to figure out where the time went - it was over way too quick.
Entertainment: Best Variety of any cruise I've been on. CD Keith Williams was excellent and very personable; I admire a CD who acknowledges me and remembers meeting me days earlier. Assistant Irky: all I can say is "Heh, Heh, Heh!". (You'll understand if you meet him). The opening show had a comedian (haven't totally unpacked and can't find Day 1 to remember his name - Barnhart maybe?). Other nights had Comic Pianist Glenn Smith (great show), Comic Juggler Charlie Peachock (my favorite show of the cruise), Comedy/Magician Farrel Dillon, Horizon (Motown singing trio with an excellent performance), Vocalist Dolores Park, Comedian Chas Elstner. Lots of activities onboard (trivia, Nintendo Wii tournaments, live music, dance lessons). Don't miss The Quest (unless you're a 17th century Puritan).
RIDDLE #3: What was the most popular animal at The Quest? A Zee-Bra (joke stolen from Sub or Yoga - can't remember who told it first, but thanks).
Excursions: Our three younger ones (22, 21, 19) did the Segway Tour in San Juan. They all enjoyed it and my son insists he's buying one when he gets home. In St Thomas we did the Champagne Catamaran. Good snorkeling, great beach, great Rum Punch (it must have had tranquilizers in it because I got back to the ship and slept for 14 straight hours!). Several of our M&M'ers did the Turtle Cove snorkeling, and if you're into snorkeling that was probably a better choice, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed our excursion. In Samana many of us booked directly through Tours with Terry (easily found on CC threads). That was an advantage of reading the M&M thread for our cruise - all 35 or so people on the two excursions were M&M'ers! We had about 17 horseback riders, others did the ATVs through Terry, and myself, wife and daughter were taken to a beach with our granddaughter where everyone met up after their rides. We had our own private Caribbean beach for two hours before everyone got there - it felt like being a millionaire - no one else around, lying in the sand with no one in sight, being able to scratch my arse without worrying who's watching (Oops! TMI!). At Labadee we did a snorkel excursion, and the snorkeling was the best I've seen in four Caribbean cruises. More Rum Punch, but this was a shorter ride so I handled this one better.
A note on Samana and Labadee: these are very, very poor areas. Several of our M&M'ers brought clothing and school supplies to give to locals. If you have room in your suitcases, please consider doing the same - they can really use it. You can very easily find someone who will take the items and give them to someone in need.
Cruising With An Infant: I asked a lot of questions on CruiseCritc about cruising with infants, and many posters said we were crazy for trying it. WRONG! Our granddaughter had a great time (she's 13 months). She's a smart little cookie who looked forward to her fruit bowl and bread at dinner each night (not to mention great kid's dinners and trying everything we had), and she learned what elevators do. Some spare time was spent following her into an open elevator, following her off as she explored a new deck, following her back on when they opened again.... We brought our own Pack'N'Play for her to sleep in (we drove, making that easier), but RCCL does provide them. She slept all night every night, and enjoyed seeing the ocean and beaches for the first time in her young life. No regrets at all about bringing her. What helped was having five adults (grandparents, parents, aunt), who could take turns, sometimes missing an excursion or show to stay with her (a very small price to pay for the great memories we now have).
Meet & Mingle: If your cruise is seven days or longer, DO sign up and attend the M&M. We had 107 sign up for ours, probably 60 to 70 present. RCCL gives out several prizes and our group also brought our own prizes (little samples of our hometown areas - marinades, mustards, trinkets, shirts). We had so many items brought that every family present won at least one thing; we had to re-draw for the last several items because everyone had already won something, so we started again. We were quite well represented throughout the cruise (10 of 12 Belly Flop contestants, members on the 2nd & 3rd place Quest teams, a majority of the Sexy Leggers) - yeah, we had a fun group. Corresponding with each other beforehand added to the pleasure of getting to know each other, and feeling like a family before we even met. I shall keep my Pink Mohawk wig as a fond memory of my M&M friends.
RIDDLE #4: What does my title mean,"Cruising With 107 Kids Plus an Infant"? This was a very "young-at-heart" group (I'm 56 but haven't grown up yet). I swear this cruise was almost like a Fountain of Youth! Our age range was from a 1 yr old to numerous teens to late-late-late 50's. And all 107 kids played together very nicely.
Debarkation: As Platinum members we had a private lounge to wait in. Only problem was the lounge couldn't hold half the people who qualified for it. Finding luggage was easy unless you were like one poor person whose tag fell off their bag, thereby meaning their bag could be anywhere in the terminal. Tip: if you have extra luggage tags put more than one on each bag - that way, in case one accidentally gets ripped off, your luggage can still find its way to the right location.
RIDDLE #5: Why am I sitting at my desk typing this instead of sailing someplace on a relaxing, enjoyable cruise ship? Sorry, I don't have an answer for that one myself!!!
Thank you, RCCL. Thank you, my many M&M friends - we really do miss you all (and for you many Southerners: we really do miss y'all). Read Less
We are Diamond level cruisers on Royal Caribbean and have been on many of their ships. We had one previous cruise on a Vision Class ship, the Spendour of the Seas, and did not care much for that ship. However, since this cruise was leaving ... Read More
We are Diamond level cruisers on Royal Caribbean and have been on many of their ships. We had one previous cruise on a Vision Class ship, the Spendour of the Seas, and did not care much for that ship. However, since this cruise was leaving for Norfolk, Va, about 3 hours drive from home in Raleigh, NC, we decided to take the cruise even though we had reservations about the ship. It was a nine day cruise and listed at a good price. It even had a price reduction that we got shortly after the booking. Then I read that the ship had just come out of dry-dock and I figured it would be in good shape.
Our drive to the port was quick and easy, a little over 3 hours. I had Googled map directions so I knew exactly how to get to the port and to the parking. Since there will be no more Royal Caribbean cruises from Norfolk there is not much need for a long explanation of the shortcoming of cruising out of that port, i.e., no port side parking, small terminal building, etc. We parked at a lot across the street from the port rather than use the lot the cruise line recommended which was about a mile away and a short shuttle bus ride to the port. It was the same price, $15 a day, and made it a lot easier to get into and out of the port area.
Check-in was quick and easy. It actually took us longer to get through the security check point than to check in. That's because we happened to be behind a person in a wheel chair and there were some passengers who apparently had never gone through a security check before. They did not know how to put things from their pockets on the scanner belt.
There was a question on the Royal Caribbean Facebook discussion board about bringing bottled water and soft drinks on board. I had a six-pack of each in my carry-on back pack and there was absolutely no problem with this. The only question they asked was whether we had an open bottles. When I got to the cabin I asked the cabin steward to remove stuff from the mini-refrigerator so I could put my water in and he simply said just take the stuff out and put it on a shelf, which we did. Then we put it back on the last day of the cruise.
We liked the cruise and really enjoyed having 2 at sea days going and coming back. And the last port stop was at Labadee, Haiti, an all day beach stop. The other port stops were San Juan, Puerto Rico; St Thomas, US VI; and Samara, Dominican Republic. We had been to all of these places before except the Dominican Republic so we did really have a need to do tours. We walked around the Old San Juan area a bit and then went back on the ship. We went to Sapphire Beach in St Thomas.
Due to travel alerts from the US State Department about crime in the Dominican Republic we had not planned to even get off the ship there. But after all of the tour and most of the people had left the ship we decided to at least go ashore. There is really not that much to see, just a market area selling the usual trinkets. We had no problems but we did hear that a couple from the ship was taken for a ride in a taxi and robbed at knife point. We heard this from another passenger but got no official confirmation of it.
Our cabin on the ship, a junior suite (8090), was really nice. It appeared that the furniture in the cabin (soft, 2 chairs and hassocks) had been replaced or re-upholstered.. The carpet was also in great shape, not showing any wear. The cabin had more than enough room for all of our clothes. The balcony was very large. We were provided a coffee maker and Seattle's Best coffee and a hot pot for making tea, plus mugs, creamer and sweeteners. The cabin bathroom was standard size and had a bathtub. The air conditioning system in the cabin was really good. If you turned down the temperature it got colder pretty quickly. We had no complaints about the cabin at all. Our cabin steward did his job but I wouldn't say he did anything exceptional. We were completely satisfied with his service.
NOTE ABOUT CABINS:
This ship has some cabins that have a support pole in the middle of the cabin at the foot of the bed. The pole is about 8 inches round. I first found out about this from reading a blog about the ship. Then when we got on the ship we discovered that the cabin next to us, number 8092, was one of the cabins with this pole. Then I also saw the same thing in a cabin down the hall, 8056 if I remember correctly. So beware and ask when booking this ship if it would bother you to have a pole in your cabin.
My best description of this cruise and ship is it's the bottom of the line of what Royal Caribbean provides. The ship lacks the many activities available on RC's newer ships. It has a rock climbing wall on the very back of the ship, but there is really no room for people to watch. The ship has a bungie-jump trampolines on the front of the ship but these were closed the entire cruise due to high winds; that's what the closed sign said. My question is what would you expect with that activity on the front of the ship. The only other activities were shuffle board and table tennis.
The ship has a gym on the back of the ship, rather than on the front as with RC's newer ships. The gym provides the minimums. Its not that large and while it has elliptical, tread mills, free weights and some weight machines, its very small and crowded. I made just one trip there. The ship has a good walking track but it has a slight hill in the middle on each side where the ship was stretches several years ago. Walking on the promenade deck was good except that you could not circle the ship. The front section of the promenade deck is closed to passengers. The pools and hot tubs were good, including the solarium area. There were plenty of chairs available most of the time.
The show room was not large enough to accommodate people for the shows. You had to get there about 30 minutes before the show to get a seat and the few shows we attended there were people standing in the back on both sides of the showroom. We missed a few shows because we couldn't find a seat. In addition, the sight lines are not good because the seats in the back of the showroom are not elevated enough for you to see well.
The casino was satisfactory. It had some multi-line penny machines and well as nickle, quarter and dollar slots and table games. But the slots were not the latest that you'll find in Las Vegas and other on-shore gambling places.
As usual we requested a table for two and they put us at a table for 10 or 12. So the first order of business when we boarded was to get that changed. We had no problem getting a table for 2 and even got one by the window. The dining room service was good. The menu's were standard RC fare. But we found the soups very bland and every day there were curried vegetable dishes that was not very good. The Food in the Windjammer was standard RC fare and it was good, but there was not much variety. Breakfasts and lunches had the same things each day. The Windjammer was about the only place to get a cup of coffee, tea, or iced tea and lemonade most of the day. The other eating places had limited open hours.
The ship has what are called "automatic doors" that do not open automatically. You must push a button to open them. This caused problems for many guests who didn't know how to get the doors open. The elevators next to the atrium are a problem because they do not all go to all of the floors and they are not on the same call button. So you must puck the bottom for elevators on each side of the hallway. There are two elevators serving the Viking Crown Lounge and they were really hard to get.
We went to the Cruise Critic/RC sponsored Meet & Mingle but didn't meet anyone. It appeared that a lot of people had conversed online and met on ships in their groups. There was no effort to have everyone meet everyone else. Very disappointed in this.
On our stop in Labadee we heard from another passenger not to buy any of the canes or walking sticks. This was after I had already bought 3 of them. He said there was some type announcement on TV and/or in the Cruise Compass. Although I expected trouble the ship's security people did not raise any questions. I was a little perplexed by the warning as we had been on Labadee on a Celebrity cruise just a couple months ago, bought a cane and had no problems bringing it back home. However, we found out the real story when we got off the ship in Norfolk. We were directed to the APHIS inspectors, initially not told why, and then told because we had the canes. The Aphis person was really helpful in explaining that the problem with the sticks is they can sometimes have bugs. So she inspected them very closely and gave us a go ahead with them. This is a problem that RC, APHIS and the Haitians need to address by first of all explaining the whole issue with a flier that passengers will see, then arrange to have the canes sprayed before they leave Haiti, or tell the Haitians to stop selling them.
So my bottom line on this cruise is I know that Royal Caribbean can do better and I will just not go on another Vision class ship. Read Less
My family and I just got back from cruising on the Enchantment Of The Seas 6/12/10. It was a good time, food was good, shows were ok, service was good, cabin was clean, BUT it had it's issues. I would not recommend sailing in and out ... Read More
My family and I just got back from cruising on the Enchantment Of The Seas 6/12/10. It was a good time, food was good, shows were ok, service was good, cabin was clean, BUT it had it's issues. I would not recommend sailing in and out of Norfolk. Although downtown Norfolk is great with a lot to do within walking distance, the problem is the pier location to the parking. IT CAUSES MAJOR DELAYS. Boarding, I dropped the family and luggage off at the pier and drove the couple of miles to the cruise parking lot only to find out once I got there it was $15.00 per day VS $10.00 per day as advertised on RC web site. I had a long wait there as people were unloading their luggage, which had to be loaded onto the buses and transported down to the pier on the same buses, so this was not a quick process, as the family stood waiting for me at the pier for 40 minutes. The debarkation process was a complete disaster. We were supposed to disembark at 9AM, but we were not able to disembark until 10AM. Once we were able to get off the boat the luggage staging area was a mess with the disembarkation numbers butting right up to each other, people were practically walking on top of each other. And then again all luggage loaded on buses then a 2 mile drive to the parking lot and then unloaded. Needlessly to say this was why there was an hour delay getting off the ship. I have no royalty to Philadelphia (I'm from Ohio), but I sailed on Empress Of The Seas out of Philly and it went VERY SMOOTH. On the ship the Windjammer was over packed at breakfast time, with peak times not having enough seating. Deck 4 reeked of sewage smell the first 4 days, but after that I didn't smell it at all, our dining room table (412) was located in a bad spot where my shoulders got @ss rubbed all week by people passing by, and lastly I felt the shore excursions through the cruise line were way over priced for what you got in return. I know, I know, I have dwelled on the negatives with the glass half full. BUT AGAIN the food was good, the service was good, the shows were good, and the cabin was clean. Overall it was a good trip and everybody had a good time, and other than the shore excurions the cruise was a good value. Read Less
DH and I wanted to do something special for our 5th anniversary. We'd honeymooned on the QMII but wanted to try a different line this time around. Frankly, our immediate criteria was finding an embarkation port that was within a ... Read More
DH and I wanted to do something special for our 5th anniversary. We'd honeymooned on the QMII but wanted to try a different line this time around. Frankly, our immediate criteria was finding an embarkation port that was within a drivable distance from our home in Durham, NC. This led us to the port of Norfolk, VA, which in turn led us to considering Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas. After poking around a bit on Royal Caribbean's site, Cruise Critic, and on-line cruise booking sites, we settled on booking EOS for a 9 night Eastern Caribbean cruise departing May 20th 2010.
As it turned out, I also contacted RCI a few times as we neared our sail date with a few specific questions regarding what we could or could not pack; plus, I utilized their web site to check in, print out Set Sail Passes, purchase a wine package, make an RSVP for the specialty restaurant (Chops Grille) and order a bottle of Champagne to be delivered to our stateroom on sail day. Everything turned out as expected. Knowing this, I'll not be quite so anal the next time we cruise ("quite"!)
We stayed in Norfolk the night before we sailed at a B&B called The Freemason Inn (review on Trip Advisor). In short, I would not recommend this B&B but it was close to the pier so that was good. We arrived at the pier way too early; it was a bit chaotic with passengers getting off Enchantment, cars everywhere, porters going to and fro, and other people (like us) arriving, eager to get on board! DH parked the gar in one of Norfolk's public parking garages. This one was directly across the street from the pier (Plume Street). Word to the wise; all of the public garages switch to the same daily rate on sail day. We ended up paying $15 per day and had to pre-pay it (the day before, the rates were $12!)
The boarding process was a breeze. Everyone was extremely helpful and the process moved along quickly. After going through check-in, we were ushered to a roped off waiting area. Coffee, tea and cookies were provided. We didn't have to wait long; they started boarding us around 11:00. DH and I were #3 and #4 on board (after taking the obligatory Welcome Aboard picture).
Since we were #3 and #4 on board, it was obviously quite empty when we stepped aboard Enchantment; thus, we had an unique opportunity to look around and really see what she looked like. Although Enchantment is on the smaller side (although larger than she was after being "stretched" in 2005), we were impressed; she is a truly beautiful ship. We liked the open atrium area, the glass elevators, all of the sparkling polished chrome; it made an excellent first impression! Plus, everything was so clean and fresh (she'd just come out of dry dock in early May).
We spent that first afternoon in the Windjammer area near the pool bar waiting to get into our stateroom. We were in by 1:00 pm; very reasonable. When we first arrived, our luggage was not all there but it showed up within a few minutes. Our bottle of Champagne was there on ice waiting for us and we eagerly explored the suite and unpacked.
My Fair Lady Dining Room and Food in General We had the 2nd seating in the My Fair Lady dining room. We were originally assigned to a table for 12 in the middle of the bottom level. DH is a bit hard of hearing so he went to the Maitre'd and requested we be re-assigned to a smaller table in a quieter section of the room. They re-assigned us to a perfectly delightful table for two (by a window, no less) towards the rear of the dining room. We had no problem being in the back; in fact, we preferred it. We had excellent service by our waiter, Edmond and our assistance waiter, Clayton (not to mention Placid, who brought us our evening cocktail every night!)
We ate in MFL all but one evening. In general, we found the food more than acceptable. There was always a decent selection of food; including options for low fat, low calories, low sugar, low sodium, etc. Each evening we had an appetizer, entrEe and dessert. Only once did I find something not to my liking. Many times, Edmond offered to bring us more than one of whatever we'd ordered and once he brought me two desserts because I couldn't make up my mind between them. We'd arranged to have one of the wine packages (in essence prepaid for 7 bottles of wine which turned out to be a better deal than buying a bottle each night in the dining room). Each evening, we were presented with the list of bottles to chose from (we'd opted for the middle of the road selections) and only one night was what we wanted out of stock and we had to request something else.
My only issue with the dining room was that the dress code was not enforced. Many times, we saw people in the dining room wearing shorts, jeans, tank tops, etc., even on formal night. We're not snobs, but, we thought more attention should have been paid to this as it sort of took away from the elegance of the evening. There is always the Windjammer for those who don't want to dress for dinner.
And speaking of the Windjammer, they actually enforced the dress code better than the main dining room! I wandered in there one afternoon looking for a snack and was told I had to go "cover up" (I had come in from the pool area and did not have a tee shirt on over my bathing suit).
We ate in the Windjammer a few times for breakfast and lunch/afternoon snacks. The food was really good; fresh with a lot of options but, my, the crowds; people seemed to check their brains at the door, too). Also, I found it a bit off-putting when they'd shut down one side of the buffet an hour before it closed (getting ready for the next meal, I guess). It was amusing how quickly the bus boys snatched up any unused utensil, cup, plate, etc., off the tables! Better hold on to your self or they may snatch you up, too!
Many afternoons we partook of the snacks over in the Solarium; pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, fresh fruit, cookies, etc.) We don't typically eat a lot of "junk" food but, man, were those French fries good! So good, in fact, that people started picking up the bin of them and dumping the entire contents on their plates. After that, the staff moved the French fries behind the pizza counter to be meted out a bit more equally!
We also ordered room service several mornings. We delighted in this, too; since it was included in the rate and normally this is a luxury we don't indulge in. However, we did have a challenge trying to get the room service staff to understand we wanted TWO pots of coffee, even though ONE pot was supposed to serve two people (it didn't, unless you only require a cup and a half of coffee in the morning!)
We paid the extra $25 per person to eat at Chops Grille one evening. This was DEFINITELY worth it; a step up in both food and service (and since the food and service in MFL was just fine; you can imagine how wonderful Chops Grille was!) Just imagine a typical, traditional Chop House in, say, Chicago or another big mid-western city, and, you'll have an idea of the food available in Chops Grille. Also, a fantastic wine list.
Wrapping up food; we did not make it to the (one) midnight buffet they had. We typically did not finish up with our dinner until 10:30 or so. We just couldn't stuff any more food done that night!
We only ate breakfast in MFL the morning we got off the ship. This was fine; nicer than the Windjammer in that is was a lot more civilized but breakfast was only served in there from 7-9 (or something like that) which was just too early for us throughout the cruise itself.
Drinks A lot of people were griping beforehand that drinks on cruises are too expensive, especially the drink of the day; not to mention watered down. We didn't find them that expensive and the drink of the day (typically something with rum) was $5. Additionally, if you had a good poolside server (like we did with Placid), they were more than generous with the alcohol. We got a kick out of Dr. Yummy wandering around with a tray of cocktails announcing it was "Yummy yummy time" or, "Here is the medication for your vacation". Yeah, those were a bit steep; $7 or $8 BUT he'd gladly add a few extra shots of rum and you got to keep the "glass". In general, we stuck to beer, diet Coke and rum but we did imbibe in some of those frozen drinks on especially hot days. I fell in love with the frozen Mojitos. As previously mentioned, the wine list/packages were acceptable. The only "ouch" came in the form of spending almost $40 for two glasses of Champagne in the Champagne Bar one night. We did find it a bit odd that we were not able to take our half-consumed bottle of wine (from dinner) with us back to our room and yet it was perfectly fine for us to fill up our wine glasses to the brim and leave the dining room with them. Also, we were not able to order a bottle of Scotch or Cognac to have in our room for a night cap. That would have been nice, but, I suppose the idea is for you to be out in one of the lounges (we loved the Viking Crown Lounge and the Schooner Bar) or in the casino or at a show having drinks THERE.
As far as non-alcoholic drinks, there was complimentary coffee, iced tea and lemonade pretty much every day, somewhere. There were both packages for all you can drink soda, too; plus, bottled water packages (we did end up paying $32 for eight large bottles of Evian, which were delivered to our stateroom). We ordered sodas a few times; about 1/2 the cost of a beer for a can of soda. Additionally, there was a Seattle's Best on board where we could have purchased lattes and the like; plus, a Ben and Jerry's (although with all that free dessert (including soft serve ice cream, why pa extra for that?)
Service EVERYONE was wonderful. All of the staff always had smiles on their faces and were extremely helpful and pleasant. Our stateroom attendant, Esther, was excellent. We sure enjoyed seeing what towel creature we'd find in our stateroom each evening! Seriously, considering these folks sign on for 7 1/2 months and work 7 days a week, RCI must definitely be doing something right with regards to their employees. Next time I'm on board a RCI ship, I'd love to chat with their HR person!
The only issue we had was when one of the waiters in the Spot Light Lounge one night got my Sea Pass card mixed up with someone else's. I didn't notice it until the next morning and went to Guest Relations to get it taken care of; no problem.
Fellow Passengers Around the time we booked the cruise, I signed up for Cruise Critic and met several of our future fellow passengers via this forum. What a great experience; not only did I get several questions answered by these veteran cruisers, but, we organized an excursion together in Samana. Needless to say, all of these folks were wonderful. Ages ranged from late 20s (I'd say) to 70 or older.
Initially, we thought the average age of fellow passengers was going to be 60 or more but it turned out this might have been because more senior folks were on board first (again, we were #3 and #4 on board). As the days went on, we adjusted the average age to be in the mid 30s to mid 40s. We didn't experience any issues with our fellow passengers save the minor irritations that arise from simply having so many people in one confined space at once. Yes, there were a few rude, pushy, loud, annoying or obtuse folks on board, but, definitely the exception, NOT the norm.
All in all we loved Enchantment of the Seas. We're sorry that she is no longer sailing out of Norfolk but hope one day we'll catch her again. The RCI experience was fantastic; truly, it rivaled the QMII at about 1/2 the price. Who needs those white gloves, anyway?
We were so "Enchanted" with RCI that we've already booked our next cruise with them on Radiance of the Seas next January. Read Less
Just a little background on my self and family, we are experienced cruises with RCCL and other companies. One cruise away from platinum on RCCL but have been on Disney, NCL and Carnival. So we have seen it all and this review is my opinion ... Read More
Just a little background on my self and family, we are experienced cruises with RCCL and other companies. One cruise away from platinum on RCCL but have been on Disney, NCL and Carnival. So we have seen it all and this review is my opinion but little things go a long way.
Embarkation, Norfolk, VA, Well we have driven to many ports before, Miami, Baltimore and Port Canaveral and this was just awful. The price on the website for cruise terminal parking said 10/day well it changed to 15/day when we arrived, and we checked the day before. We could have parked across the street for the same price if we would have know, or stayed at a hotel for cheaper too. Check into that if you come to this port as there are cheaper options. We were in line out to the street at 1130am and were not parked and luggage offloaded until about 1230. Once parked we were on the shuttle quickly and this is where the fun began. The shuttle was about 1.5 blocks away with mediocre AC and just sitting in traffic. The terminal drop off was having issues getting cars and busses in and once in we were the 4 or 5th bus in line and instructed to stay on. At this point we were on the bus for 45 mins to go about 6-10 blocks and just talked our way off to go get in line for check-in. Check-in was quick and easy, but this was eased as we are plat. cruisers so front of the line pass. We were on the ship about 2pm and were able to get to the room and drop off the luggage since the delay getting on.
Dining: We had requested early seating on booking through RCCL and were given late so we went straight to the DR to get this changed. Well we were not alone as we saw the list had us about 20 in line so far for a table change. The first night we were asked to eat late and then they would try and make a change. Well on day two we were notified that we were indeed moved so we made the change. Well this probably was not the best option as the room was way to crowded and noisy as the room was packed with extra tables. One thing I know they don't want to do but sometimes RCCL needs to is not facilitate the moves. Crowding the early seating had a snowball effect on other issues like show seating. We normally eat in the MDR for all meals but dabble in the WJ as well just to try other options. First thing I noticed was that having early seating was service was very slow, and I think this was to so many people being in the MDR. Waiters couldn't walk around the table because we were sitting back to back at some locations so this slowed things down too. Food was OK, but not great and some days just plain awful. There was a cod catch of the day and 4 people got it at the table and nobody finished, and my fathers had bones still in the fish. One other thing was the menu had cannelloni on Italian night yet they were out of the noodles so they substituted for tortellini. That is fine, but the very next night tortellini was on the menu and it came out as ravioli, were they not aware of the next days menu and shouldn't ravioli substituted instead. Just little things that can be corrected to make a better experience RCCL has done this same trip many times out of Baltimore so they have an idea of what is needed. Lastly by day 4 they were out of V8 juice, just not really sure how that can happen too, seems to be a staple to me. Also on the last lunch in the WJ they ran out of food items too.
Entertainment: Was good and normal cruise fare, some comedy, jugglers, magician, musicians and cruise line dancers. Nothing was bad they were all good and a variety of shows so you can get whatever you like. One thing that we noticed was seating was packed every night and you needed to be there 30 mins before to get a good seat and 10mins before you were standing. I think this was brought on because they packed the early MDR and thus packed the theater with all these guests. So if you are a late person getting to shows this could be a problem, you will know the first couple of days. On to the pool entertainment was very good. The band that they have on deck was good, only wish they started earlier. They would come out around 1230 for 30 mins and would break until 4-430 and play again. Just think they should have been out there more earlier instead of after 5 as most people were getting ready to eat after 5pm. But they were very good and could play almost anything with a reggae flair. lastly the Casino was nice and as always the staff were superb. This is one department that never lets me down.
Ports/Excursions: I go into this in more detail below but for us the ship is the destinations and sometimes we get off and sometimes we don't. The stops we have been to before so knew what to expect when it came to getting off the ship. There was only one tender stop in Samana and this was a little disorganized. If you have a ship excursion you meet in the spotlight lounge and get your tender ticket, normal for all cruises. But everyone on a ship excursion goes there and no matter when you tell them to go up there people will be early and crowd the room or entrance. So this caused a little trouble which the ship could change and say have half go to the theater and half to the spotlight lounge, but I think they will get this as time goes on. Even though we were anchored early there was trouble getting going and non ship excursions didn't begin until 12-1230p. So be aware, but I think they had trouble with the ships water doors and once fixed it was fine, so maybe this was isolated. Ports that we went to were nice, enjoyed the beach at St Thomas (sapphire) and Labadee. Labadee is my favorite stop and if the ship just stayed here for 4 days I would be happy but private stops are not for everyone.
Disembarkation: Did the express check off and went smooth with no issues was off the ship at about 8-9am not sure on the exact time, but was smooth. They asked passengers with express to wait in the rooms until called but that didn't happen people started lining up at 730 but otherwise was smooth as checkout could have been. Once through customs loaded bags on shuttle and waited until the bus was about half full and were off to the parking. Was quick and were to our car quickly and off to our 3.5 hour drive home.
Ship: Enchantment is an older ship, but we enjoy this class ship as it is not too big but has almost everything the bigger ships do as well. The ship was expanded about 5 years ago and maybe this added to some of the crowding issues but not so sure about that, we were on the Grandeur in Oct and never any crowding issues on that one so maybe so. The ship just came out of dry dock and the pool deck was all new with teak and imitation teak so that was nice, but no new pool chairs. Couldn't really tell on many other changes in dry dock as I think most occurred below the water line. Lastly there was never an issue with getting deck chairs as everyone was respectful and not many chair hogs on this cruise.
Overall: Well we enjoyed the cruise and it is just little issues that can be fixed to make a great cruise. I enjoy cruising and want everyone else to enjoy it too, so when I see small things rubbing people it bugs me, because I know this isn't always the case. I don't like to hear people say they will never cruise with RCCL again, so just little details could change peoples opinion for a positive one. We will cruise again and since this ship is coming out of Baltimore permanent we will probably be traveling her again in the future. I know the review seems negative, but seems we always remember those. But there were good things as well, stops love them all, you get a nice variety and different things to do at all of them. The length and price cant be beat and that is why we like this 9nt cruise so much and the ship really is our destination when we take this cruise. Food was ok, but would like to have a variety of lunch menu, it was the same everyday in the MDR. Overall I give this cruise a 3.5/5 so not bad but room for improvement. Read Less
The boarding process in Norfolk was clearly the worst part of the trip. It took us about 3 hours from the time we entered the parking lot (sat there for 1 hour) until we got to our cabin. It was a long, painful process! Although, as I ... Read More
The boarding process in Norfolk was clearly the worst part of the trip. It took us about 3 hours from the time we entered the parking lot (sat there for 1 hour) until we got to our cabin. It was a long, painful process! Although, as I understand it, Royal Caribbean will no longer be going out of Norfolk. Next cruise we plan to try Baltimore.
Enchantment of the Seas, although clearly an older ship, was very comfortable and we enjoyed it. We ended up in the Champagne Lounge when we finally got on the ship. It turned out to be our favorite hang out in the evenings -- our waitress, Carol, knew our name from the first day on -- she was great.
Our room was comfortable and clean. We had previously always requested a balcony, but this cruise elected to try an outside room with a window. We didn't regret our decision at all -- didn't miss the balcony at all.
For dining we chose the "My Time" dining. It was great. We do not like to have to eat at an assigned time and this really worked well for us. We would clearly do this again. We also purchased the "wine package" which is much cheaper that buying wine by the glass in the bars. Be careful, however, because the only place you can order your bottle of wine is in the dining room or the Windjammer Cafe.
The only real complaint that we had was the casino. It was so smoky that we didn't go back after we walked through on the first day. The ventilation system was terrible. You could smell the cigarette smoke in the hallways long before you got to the casino entrance. They did have a couple of non-smoking nights but the smoke was so heavy it didn't matter that no one was smoking at the time. We were a little disappointed because we enjoy the slots. The entertainment was good on the ship. Our favorite of the week was the "Tap Dancing Grannies" from Colonial Heights, VA. They were AWESOME!
The food was good but not wonderful. We notice some subtile downgrades since our last cruise (6 years ago on Navigator). The deserts were dramatically less impressive. The menu for dinner seemed to have a lot of strange items -- at least strange to us. The lobster and prime rib, however, was excellent.
Overall, Enchantment of the Seas is a nice ship. We will definitely go on it again. We love being able to drive to our port and not have to worry about planes, etc. We had a very relaxing trip and look forward to next summer when we plan to do it again! Read Less
It's not like we are really old-old.....like scooters and walker old. My husband and I are in our mid-sixties and in the past have enjoyed Holland America cruise ships. We had never cruised with Royal Caribbean before, however, ... Read More
It's not like we are really old-old.....like scooters and walker old. My husband and I are in our mid-sixties and in the past have enjoyed Holland America cruise ships. We had never cruised with Royal Caribbean before, however, since the port of departure was Norfolk, only a few hours from our Virginia home, we decided to throw caution to the wind (and the seas) and try Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. We were pleasantly surprised.Midship is the Centrium with multi-decked openness and glass elevators. Vast, panoramic windows and lush seating, provides opportunities for reading, ocean-watching, and quiet conversation. It seemed to be a general meeting place prior to dinner and after shows.Our favorite part of the ship, however, was the Solarium. This glass enclosed area offers an abundance of lounge chairs, tables for a quick snack of pizza and hamburgers, and most of all it provides quietness. The adult-only swimming pool and hot tubs were not crowded and were a pleasant alternative for those of us not interested in the traditional family pool area with the loud music and predictable pool games.The food was continual.....from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m. However, please note that the 24-hour room service is not fully complimentary. There is a small fee (less than $4.00) for service in the wee hours of the night/morning. However, my thought process is if you cannot sustain yourself with food for 21 out of 24 hours a day, you have some major eating issues anyway.Sometimes the quantity of food does not mean quality and this was the case on the Grandeur. I won't go into details of specific foods, but there was a definite blandness to many dishes in the Windjammer buffet. The Gatsby dining room menus were varied and tasty. I can't say enough good things about our waiters. They were the best we've had on any ship.Minor annoyances - no chocolates on my pillow at night! It's "cutting down expenses"...or so I hear. Another bother or waste of time was the port shopping talk by Cruise Director John. In order to receive "free" gifts in port, we were advised to purchase a $25.00 coupon book, (some cruise lines give these coupons away for free). i.e. Diamond International, Del Sol. etc. Supposedly, the $25.00 also enabled one to buy the drink-of-the-day a half price. Well, what a waste of drinking time. Someone waved a cork over two gallons of fruit juice and pronounced it a tropical drink of the day. The only thing that changed daily was the color of the juice and the name of the drink. I definiately think the cork was reused all nine days. The evening entertainment and shows were great fun and we looked forward each evening.This ship will be relocated to a Florida port soon and for that I am definitely disappointed.Samana, Dominican RepublicFirst of all you have to remember that the D.R. is third world country and desperately poor. I was very disappointed that Royal Caribbean did not provided any local information on Samana. No geographical information, no history of the area, and no local points of interest for those of us wanting to explore on our own. It was almost as though this port was an afterthought. I even went to the tour desk and asked for information on Samana. I was told the only information they had were for excursions. This meant that hundreds of people, unable to spend big bucks on excursions, were left to the mercy of gypsy cab drivers for varying fees and makeshift vehicles. Labadee, HaitiRoyal Caribbean owns a portion of land which they over glamourize as "paradise". It's nice, but saying it's paradise is a bit much. There are oodles of beach chairs. Two of the beach areas were small. The larger one was nicer but the ocean bottom was loaded with sharp coral which made walking tricky. Read Less
We sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas on May 21 out of Norfolk, Va on a 9 day Eastern Caribbean trip with stops in St. Juan, St. Thomas, Samana (Dominican Republic) and Labadee, Haiti, returning on May 30th to Norfolk. It was a ... Read More
We sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas on May 21 out of Norfolk, Va on a 9 day Eastern Caribbean trip with stops in St. Juan, St. Thomas, Samana (Dominican Republic) and Labadee, Haiti, returning on May 30th to Norfolk. It was a wonderful cruise. We had a junior suite on the starboard aft side that was quite roomy and spacious for both of us, even though I missed the walk-in closet I had on the Explorer of The Seas. I thought the Gradeur was a lovely ship, just the right size, and felt more "ship-like" and less "floating hotel-ish" than the Explorer. Our stateroom attendent, Anthony, was a joy I wish I could take HIM home with me! He kept our room spotless and brought us anything we needed or wanted. Every evening he delighted us with a hilarious new towel creation and insisted it was the work of "The Magic Man".We had the breakfast buffet every morning in the Windjammer Cafe, and were pleased with the selections everything was hot, fresh and tasty. The fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, and bacon were always my choices. Luch was always from the Windjamer as well, and although I usually didn't eat much, I tried to taste a tiny bit of the interesting dishes. The curries were always good. The soups were great! The desserts could be hit or miss, except for anything mousse-like those were excellent! Mango mousse was sooooo good. I usually had a very light afternoon snack at the Windjammer as well, and they always had hamburgers, hot dogs, good french fries if they were fresh and hot (they do a good job of keeping them hot and replenishing them), and taco fixings, plus deli meats and cheeses, salads, soups, desserts, and something different every day, such as wings, fried fish fingers, assorted hot meals, etc. I was very impressed.We had dinner every evening in the dining room and the first night, we were seated at an assigned table with a waiter who was a complete jerk. We complained to our headwaiter, Kirk, who was fantastic, and signed up for My Time Dining instead. After that we had the most wonderful waiter, Romar, and assistant waiter, Christopher. They truly went out of their way to turn around what could have been a horrible 9 day dining experience. Absolutely totally without complaint, except for the first night (plus that first night, my pork medallions were inedible). In San Juan, we actually arrived early, around 9:00 a.m. instead of 2:00 p.m., as there was a medical emergency on board and we had to get to San Juan as fast as possible. We enjoyed walking around San Juan, and we were able to attend Sunday Mass at the Cathedral. We also walked through El Morro, which was fine, but I most enjoyed exploring the streets of Old San Juan and eating lunch in a little hole in the wall restaurant with wonderful food and sangria. In St. Thomas, we took the Ocean Racing excusion with On Deck and really enjoyed crewing and racing on the 40 foot Farr racing yacht. Afterwards, we walked into the downtown section to the shops and I was disappointed with how ticky-tacky St. Thomas was.In Samana, we went on the San Limon Horseback Ride and Hike to the waterfall, which was a tremendous experience, but it is EXTREMELY STRENUOUS and is not a sedate little ride on a horse on a level dirt path although you have a guide, the "path" is barely there; it is strewn with numerous, big, muddy and slippery rocks and mud holes; it is steeply pitched up and down; and you ford a river at least three or four times on horseback. Once you get near the waterfall, you go by foot down a slippery, muddy, rocky path to a stream that you wade through to finally reach the waterfall which is gorgeous and cooling. After resting, you have to do it all again in reverse. I LOVED this excursion (well, I didn't like the tender ride and the bus ride) and I highly recommend it IF you are ready for it: wear long pants to protect your legs from the saddle; wear cotton socks (for under the rubber boots they recommnd you wear and they supply, which are like Totes rubber boots very thin); bring an extra pair or two of cotton socks to change into AFTER you are through wading the stream on foot and fording the river on horseback so you have something dry to wear; bring a small backpack with a towel to dry your feet, your spare socks, a change of clothes if you want a dry set after you swim or after you finish the excursion, and a bottle of water; bring some cash as you might want to buy chocolate, your photo on the CD-DVD, and to tip your guide and you really SHOULD tip the guide. They work so hard but aren't supposed to ask for any money. I gave mine $20, as he not only helped me with my horse (although he also gave me more freedom once he knew I was comfortable with her), he walked/ran every step of the way with me over that horrendous terrain, wearing tattered, flimsy Totes rubber boots, and held my hand and guided me as I made my way slowly down the hill to the stream and waterfall and back again.Another highlight of the Grandeur is Captain Rob he has the BEST personality. His afternoon announcement were so humorous, and his "Nautical Notes" presentation on the last day of the cruise was very informative and worthwhile. He took the time to talk to anyone who had questions afterward and also posed for photos. Just a super guy.The entertainment (live shows) on board were okay, except for Al Katz, the comedian who was REALLY funny. As for the live music and music for dancing, we loved Johnny and Take Four his voice was amazing, and we loved dancing to his band. I climbed the rock wall, took Tai Chi, had a piano lesson, and my companion did the Sudoku Challange (and came in second). We took a dancing lesson as a brush up; the couple who taught the classes was very good. The library is beautiful, although there isn't a great assortment of books. We found a few (but we brought a lot of our own). The shops onboard were okay; I didn't see anything I really had to have. If the prices had been lower, I might have considered a few things. I thought the Activities Director was annoying, and the Cruise Director seemed nice, but wasn't that funny. (They are married to each other.) I'm sure they are very nice people, but she came across as just too fake. They did a good job of providing information for disembarking via the stateroom television channel, however.We didn't participate in the Belly Flop Contest, or the Mr. Sexy Legs contest, or the Love and Marriage Game show, or BINGO, or The Quest. There were two late night (midnight) buffets that we passed on as well. We didn't go to the Casino because it was horribly smoky. They did have two smoke-free nights. I would have like to have gone to the Viking Crown Lounge for late night dancing and entertainment, but it was so full of smoke I couldn't breathe.We would DEFINITELY sail on the Grandeur again. I hope she has some different cruises out of Baltimore, although we'd consider taking this trip again after taking a cruise to the Southern and Western Caribbean. Read Less
This will be fun to write and I hope enjoyable to read. I will be totally honest and opinionated so bear with me. This being my 4th cruise and my fiancees first it was fun to see things through his eyes too! We had an absolute blast. ... Read More
This will be fun to write and I hope enjoyable to read. I will be totally honest and opinionated so bear with me. This being my 4th cruise and my fiancees first it was fun to see things through his eyes too! We had an absolute blast. And we did it OUR WAY ! Embarkation and debarkation were speedy, smooth and hardly any waiting, course we got onboard at 12:30. I heard the lines were longer about 1:30. Every staff member from the pool servers to the cabin stewards to the greeters at registration to the porters, were there to serve you in any way they could, and always with a smile!The cabin was the smallest I have ever had, our luggage didnt fit under the very comfortable bed, altho we had huge luggage which did fit in the closet. Storage space was adequate. More storage behind the mirrors too, look for it! Glad we brought a nite lite as the inside staterooms are pitch black at night. Our steward, Wilbert and Ms. Lovelace were fabulous and kept the room spotless and the linens well stocked. Do bring your own shampoo and conditioner as they have a combination dispenser in the shower that didnt do a thing for my long hair. Do bring a power strip if you have things to charge. The shower is super tiny but the water pressure and temp were perfect as was the air conditioning. The TV is very small but does come out and swivel to the bed for viewing. Cute towel animals greet u each nite! Just precious, but no chocolate. Towards the end of the cruise we noticed a sewage smell in the hall as well as in the cabin, many others commented on it too.The Windjammer is the best designed buffet I have ever seen, traffic moved quickly and smoothly with plenty to choose from. Nothing real spectacular, but it was good and the seating and view is terrific no matter where you sit. Wait staff cant do enough for you and keep it spotless in there!The Great Gatsby Dining Room was probably beautiful, I wouldnt know, somehow we got seated at a table for 8, which i had requested in January when i booked the cruise, altho we were up against a beautiful round window and enjoyed the view and the 6 very entertaining table mates, I would have preferred to sit in the big dining room with the rest of the travelers, as it was we missed the waiters singing and their parade of nations. We were at table 2, there were 24 people in the little room which did have a private entrance off the ship hallway, so that allowed us NOT to wait in line at the early seating. My fiancee was thrilled to be in this private room and said it was much quieter and cozier than the big dining room. Our waiter and asst. were wonderful, treated us like royalty and memorized our beverages and knew our likes and dislikes. The food was food, nothing spectacular, we tried many new things, enjoyed them, but we have had better. The steaks always seemed to be tough, as mentioned by everyone at the table.
Entertainment staff was excellent, their ideas, games and poolside antics were fun to watch and/or participate in. Don't miss THE QUEST ! OR THE MARRIAGE SHOW & THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES ALL IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC LOUNGE.Enjoyed the two comedians and the final show, but didnt get to watch the ship performers as we were busy in the casino. My fiancee hit the $1000 diamond progressive jackpot on the first formal nite at the penny machines. He was a happy clam for the rest of the cruise and didnt give it back ! Being smokers we were not considered outcasts, we could smoke on open decks on the starboard side as well as in the casino. There were many many smokers on board.First Formal Night, we had pictures taken that turned out wonderful. If you buy 4 8x10's you get the 5th one free and they put it in a big leather frame/book with a picture of the ship. Very classy, yet expensive, but I was worth it, after all I never looked so good in all my finery! I will always treasure those pictures, just a fabulous rememberance! I didnt see any formal pictures being taken on the 2nd formal night. Altho they do have a photographer taking casual fun shots on a white background or a beach background, i saw numerous people taking advantage of that fun idea, its right near the portrait store. We tried to attend the captains champagne social but the room was filled, so we grabbed a glass and moved on to the schooner bar and listened to the piano man.Not real impressed with the shops, altho the liquor prices and marlboro prices were very reasonable. "Inch of Gold" looks pretty but it does "turn" as I had purchased it 2 years ago on another cruise.
At noon everyday, the captain gives a quick brief over the load speaker, it would get real quiet no matter where you were as all ears were tuned to his very dry humor and comical reports. DO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS, HE'S TERRIFIC!
San Juan was pleasant, the weather couldn't have been better, we docked at 2pm, were off the boat by 3pm and walked around Old San Juan, this is my second trip and my fiancee was not impressed. The stores closed at 5pm and it was Mother's Day, so many were closed anyway. TIP: When you get off the boat there will be many drivers offering you a 2 hr tour of old and new San Juan, for $10 @, definitely take it. Its an air conditioned ride that you will really enjoy and learn a lot. I had taken the tour a couple years ago, fiancEe was more interested in getting back on the ship, he had more fun there! Oh, well!
St. Thomas, (my 2nd visit) of course is a beautiful island, but having never ventured to the beaches I still enjoyed myself at the shops along the pier and the covered flea market in town. The tiny jewelry stores and shabby streets didn't do a thing for me. Some friends went up to the top of the mountain and said it was a real treat to see the bird show and the view.
Samana, Dominican Republic is an absolute disgrace, Royal Caribbean should be ashamed to even take their guests to this shabby port! It was horrendous, filthy, vendors practically begging you and tour directors almost demanding you get in their vehicles even tho the only words they used were: waterfall, beach ride & $10 dollars. Most just kept showing you pictures of beaches or waterfalls and opening the door to their van. NOT ON YOUR LIFE AM I GETTING IN THERE WITH YOU. I did see some fellow travelers in a small rickshaw-type vehicle being dragged by a motorbike. I don't think there are any traffic laws and the chaos was scary to watch. We walked the short waters edge to the many vendors under tents, once that was completed we were back on board within the hour. Many of us felt very uncomfortable here. Don't miss the REMAX Realty office with laundry hanging all over the building, it will be on your right side as you walk towards the vendors.
Larabee, our last port is a private island owned by the cruiseline. LOAD UP ON THE SUNSCREEN! A two story boat came from the island to pick us up, it ran very frequently. This is an absolutely stunning sight, very tropical, loads of lounge chairs, which you do not have to pay to have them moved to a certain spot. Hammocks hanging everywhere for your absolute relaxation. We did the $89, Zip line ride, which was absolutely fabulous, something I will never forget ! 500 ft. above the trees/ water and half a mile ride at about 45 miles per hour! After an enjoyable lunch we walked over to the Artisian Market and outside vendors. Wait a cool sight! No one announced that we should have taken some money with us as the vendors do not accept your sea pass card. That information would have been helpful. I did have a $20 bill with me so we walked thru, what a mistake ! Each of the 50 or more vendors had exactly the same thing and were in your face and not accepting " No" for an answer, it got to be frightening and there was nothing there that I needed. Typical island treats. I tried once more to go in and browse but the vendors were so overpowering I had to leave. There are many water sports on this island and just a beautiful scenery to enjoy. BEWARE: when we came thru customs in Norfolk, every single person who had purchased a wooden spear, mask, fan, statue, doll or anything made of wood from this island, was escorted by security into a private room. There were about 50 people just sitting in this room when we went thru about 915 am. Guess they were looking for drugs or bugs or something. But the "held" vacationer didn't look too happy.
Our time aboard the ship was absolutely the grandest and we are looking forward to our next trip on the Water. My fiancEe has agreed cruising is the way to vacation: everything at your fingertips! food, entertainment, no arranging transportation and being treated like Royalty. Read Less
Some cruising history: HAL 11 cruises, RCCL 5 cruises - 4 on the Grandeur of the Seas. This was my first solo. I booked this cruise in March 2009 mostly due to the convience of the departure port of Norfok. It's only 3 hours ... Read More
Some cruising history: HAL 11 cruises, RCCL 5 cruises - 4 on the Grandeur of the Seas. This was my first solo. I booked this cruise in March 2009 mostly due to the convience of the departure port of Norfok. It's only 3 hours from my home and no air travel involved. DH could not make this trip due to work, so I decided to go solo. This was my third time on this ship with the same itinerary.I arrived a bit early in Norfolk, about 10:30 am and proceeded to the Cedar Grove parking lot. To my delight they were letting some early birds in for parking and by 11:00 am I was at the terminal checking in. The terminal check in process was painless. The agent's and rep's were all very nice. Was only in holding mode for about 10 minutes. That was great!By 11:15 am I had a bloody mary in hand and as I looked around the ship I knew that something was very different from my last trip on GOS in August 2008. The ship was gleaming and the crew was all so happy! Last August that was not the case. Off to the Windjammer for lunch and at exactly 1:00 pm the stateroom's were ready. I hurried to see my balcony stateroom and I was delighted, to say the least. I was on deck 7, my stateroom was about the fourth from the front of the ship. I must tell you that this location had me a bit worried, but the sea days were fine. No major "rocking". We did have calm seas throughout the ship. I went to the champagne bar and ordered a bottle of wine and took it back to the stateroom and enjoyed sail away sipping on it. I must also mention that I met another solo traveler, Kate, and we did have the first lunch together and it was wonderful conversation. My stateroom attendent, Angela was great! She had an assistant named Margaret that was great also. This was Margaret's last run before returning home to Costa Rica and her son. She was very excited to get back to her native country and family. I hope that she made it home safely.The first evening I put out the order form for coffee at 5:30 am (I'm an early riser!) and it was there on time with a quick call to the stateroom before delivery every morning. The room service attendent was Claudia and after the first morning I never had to place the order form on the door again. She was there every morning with my order and a very happy morning greeting. She would bring little extra's like juice and pastries also. She was a delight! Her home is in Brazil.The first 2 days were sea days. I attended the Meet & Mingle and met a few of the online poster's. Natalie from RCCL hosted the get together. Was a nice layout of cheese's, fruit and coffee and other light beverage's. Was nice to put some of the face's with the name's. I only wish that we had a stand up and introduce yourself type of thing. The lazy, sun filled day's were great! No schedule - just vegged out! The solorium was really nice, Spent time there in the hot tubs and reading. I must note here that I did not go to the diningroom on this trip. I went to the Windjammer for all meals or had room service. Both were great.Ran into Captain Rob many times. He is a very visable Captain and I find him to be a true delight. The last sea day he held an informative gathering in the theater. A must for all to attend!The production show's were okay. Just okay,IMHO. I truly enjoyed the comedy show's. Chas Elstner is so funny! Antonio Salci was wonderful. A great sing along show. Horizon, Motown and More was delightful! Do not miss this! Earl was a hoot with water! Thanks to Smoke and Earl for the dance's! Watch where you sit when these guy's are doing their show because for some reason I got zero'd in on twice with them. I wish that I purchased their CD's.The port's were:San Juan - same as same. We docked in there at about 2:30 pm on Sunday. I walked and walked. Went to the Coach and Dooney & Bourke stores, to find them closed. It was Mother's Day and a Sunday, so perhaps that was why they were not open. Still the walking around Old San Juan was nice. The evening brought a lot of congestion on the streets. Carnival Victory was also in port beside of us, apparently loading passenger's, and now I understand why they call Carnival the fun ship's! She was quite a sight to see!St. Thomas - my favorite! Went to the downtown shopping area and made a few deposit's at my favorite store's. It was slow downtown. The economy has been hit hard there as with other area's. The Coach store is now located at Yacht Haven and by the time I got back to there, well, I was spent out!Samana, DR - been there, done that. Not one of my favorite places, so I stayed on board and enjoyed the hot tub and a spa treatment. Oh, so nice!Labadee - BEAUTIFUL! They are proceeding with the new pier and it looks good. A relaxing day at the beach!The last 2 day's were again sea day's and I made sure that I spent my OBC. That was not hard to do!All in all, the trip was great! I enjoyed running into a few of the ladies from M&M and meeting new people. Would you believe that I actually ran into a couple that I had met my August 2008 trip? I was shocked! They too, love to cruise and said that they are doing a lot of it these days.
The food, the drink's and the crew were all wonderful on this sailing! I highly recommend it! Read Less
My boyfriend and I traveled on the Grandeur of the Seas with RCI in May 2009 to the Eastern Caribbean. This was our first cruise and it a fun experience with a few setbacks.
Norfolk Cruise Port: Easy. I believe parking was $10 per day, ... Read More
My boyfriend and I traveled on the Grandeur of the Seas with RCI in May 2009 to the Eastern Caribbean. This was our first cruise and it a fun experience with a few setbacks.
Norfolk Cruise Port: Easy. I believe parking was $10 per day, secure lot less than a mile from the dock. Tour buses run between the two free of charge. We arrived at noon to the parking lot and were on the ship at 1pm.
Overall ship experience: My boyfriend and I are in our early 20's and we felt this ship didn't have a lot to do on it. I know it is an older ship in RCI fleet, but with 4 days at sea there were not a lot of activities that we were interested participating in. We did however enjoy the ballroom dancing class that was held daily. The ship seemed worn, but still modern. Food was great.
Stateroom: We had an interior stateroom on deck 2. Plenty of space for two people.
Itinerary: San Juan, Dominican Republic, St. Thomas and Haiti. We did not purchase a shore excursion for San Juan.
Dominican Republic: We purchased a horseback riding tour to a waterfall. Please do not purchase this excursion if it is still offered. I feared for my life the entire time. We were placed on mules, not horses and traveled on very dangerous paths. I could not relax the entire trip. The animals looked like they had not been fed in months. A very stressful experience.
St. Thomas: We had booked a 1pm snorkel tour that never showed. We found out our trip had been canceled since it was not full. This was after we waited 45 minutes for the tour to show up. We wasted a lot of our day in St. Thomas. After leaving St. Thomas the excursion desk told us we should have received a letter telling us to join the 9am snorkel tour. At this point they walked back into their office and gave us the letter that we should have received. So why did they have it and not us? We were refunded our money and told to book a snorkel tour in Haiti. We asked if we could get some type of discount for the inconvenience they caused us in St. Thomas. The excursion desk could have cared less. (Note: I emailed RCI after the cruise about this situation. They never responded to my complaint)
Haiti: Beautiful, private area for RCI. We booked a snorkel tour and had fun in the aqua park. Our favorite port.
Our eastern Caribbean cruise was good, even with a few setbacks involving the shore excursions. My boyfriend and I plan to travel on larger ships from here on out that provide more activities. Read Less
About Us- We have been on 10 cruises with Carnival and this was our very first cruise with Royal Caribbean. There were 12 people in our group, which included 8 adults ranging from 40-72 and 4 kids ranging from 9-17. There was an older ... Read More
About Us- We have been on 10 cruises with Carnival and this was our very first cruise with Royal Caribbean. There were 12 people in our group, which included 8 adults ranging from 40-72 and 4 kids ranging from 9-17. There was an older crowd on this ship than we are used to seeing which didn't affect our cruise at all.
Embarkation- We live on 30 minutes from the Port of Norfolk so we had my brother drive us over. We arrived at 10AM and he was able to drop us off right in front of Half Moone Cruise Center. The porters were right there to take our luggage right from our van. Said goodbye to my brother and we walked right inside the terminal. By 10:45 they began processing and by 11AM we were walking on the ship. Easiest and best embarkation ever!
Cabin- Most of us had a D1 balcony cabin on deck 7 except for one family that had a JS on deck 8. Our cabin was 7574, which was 4 doors down from the Centrum. Noise was never an issue and it was a perfect location. There was more than enough storage and the balcony was perfect for the two of us with two chairs and small table. The a/c worked great as we love having our cabin on the chilly side. Beds were a little firmer than we are used to but didn't keep us from a good night's sleep. The bathroom was adequate but what is up with the shower? Could it have been any smaller? It really was the smallest we have ever experienced at sea but we still managed. The cabin itself was a decent size and provided more than enough room for us.
Service- Our cabin steward Kenny and dining team of Mehmet and Oswald were all outstanding. I couldn't find a complaint even if I tried. Thanks guys! Woman down at the Solarium Cafe was downright rude and nasty. The rest of the crew was simply the best! They had hand sanitizer stations spread throughout the public areas of the ship.
Entertainment- John Blair is the cruise director on this ship and he was as good if not better than any we have sailed with. Always out and about and would always speak to us if we saw him on the ship. We went to all the shows each night and everyone seemed to enjoy each one. Of the Broadway style shows we thought Rhythm & Rhyme was the best. If you have comedian Gary Muledeer on your ship you have to go see him. He was absolutely hilarious! We also loved Los Pampas Gauchos during the farewell show. We are pool deck kind of people so we spent a lot of time soaking up the rays. Kool Vibes was the band up there and they were excellent. Couldn't help but get into the groove when they were playing. Also check out Take 4 if you sail this ship. Their lead singer Johnny is really good and has some dance moves to go with his voice. Late night comedian Al Romas was also hilarious at both of his shows. We also attended our very first Quest. It is not to be missed. What a riot.
Food- We ate all breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. We ate dinner each night in the Great Gatsby except for the days we were in San Juan and St Thomas. Everything we had was either good to very good. We like Carnival's menu a little better but the food really was good. Didn't order room service at all so I can't comment on that.
Ports- San Juan: Been there enough and could take it or leave it. We just walked around and headed over to San Cristobal. Then did a little shopping and was back on the ship by 6PM. St Thomas: It was raining when we arrived so we shopped for a few hours at Havensight. The sun finally came out at about 11 so we grabbed a taxi over to Megans Bay. After 4 trips to St Thomas this was our first trip to Megans. We usually go to either Trunk Bay or Sapphire. Really enjoyed Megans and would go there again. Samana: I think this was our favorite port on this trip. We booked the Cayo Levantado Beach Break through the ship and loved it! What a beautiful beach. It's on a little island not far from where the ship anchors. Highly recommend this excursion. Last stop was Labadee. I know it is a favorite on this board but I could take it or leave it. Maybe after the pier is finished and the water clears back up it would be better. It wasn't really my idea of a tropical beach. We did have some that did the zip line, my daughter included, and they really loved that!
Debarkation- We did the express debarkation and carried off our own luggage. We were off the ship by 7:30 but got held up at Customs due to a rose that my daughter had bought her mom for Mother's Day on Sunday. They sent us over to a special room and searched our luggage for other "contraband". We weren't the only ones over there and after 20 minutes we were on our way out of the terminal. Waited a few minutes outside for my brother to show up and we were back home before 9AM. Aside from the Customs hassle it was the easiest debarkation ever.
Bottom Line- Overall, I would rate this cruise as an "A". It was right up there with one of our best ever. Very relaxing and fun filled from start to finish. We will definitely be sailing with Royal Caribbean again in the very near future. Read Less
We sailed from Norfolk, VA (easy as we live nearby in VA Beach, VA). New embarking center a breeze to board the ship. We parked in the parking area at Cedar Grove for $10.00 a day; I guess a bargain compared to other cities?Room ... Read More
We sailed from Norfolk, VA (easy as we live nearby in VA Beach, VA). New embarking center a breeze to board the ship. We parked in the parking area at Cedar Grove for $10.00 a day; I guess a bargain compared to other cities?Room wasn't ready when we boarded at around 11 AM, however, was ready around 1 PM, gave us time to go to the Windjammer for lunch. Grandeur is showing her age but in a beautiful way, she is still grand though, and small enough to enjoy. We opt for the early diner at 6 PM (we don't like to eat late). Very good food, well served and our waiter, from India "D" and our ass't waiter from Jamaica "Terry" were superb.Windjammer was good, seems like the same menu most the time, but enjoyable. Not a crowded area that I have noticed on other ships, especially Princess (in November, 2008 we were on a 2 week Hawaiian cruise and the flow traffic in their "windjammer" was horrible, believe me). The waiters were exceedingly attentive, they would go out of their way to please you. My wife likes tomato juice, and it wasn't available in the windjammer, but lo and behold just ask for it and it appeared.All in all an excellent cruise, excellent entertainment and the cruise director and his wife (Mr. & Mrs. Blair) were just great people. Read Less
Hello, this is a review of our 9-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise, from May 7th-16th, aboard The Grandeur of the Seas. My wife and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary. This is our third cruise on the Grandeur, but first time ... Read More
Hello, this is a review of our 9-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise, from May 7th-16th, aboard The Grandeur of the Seas. My wife and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary. This is our third cruise on the Grandeur, but first time doing the current Easter Caribbean 9-night run. We are in our late 20's and early 30's.
Embarkation- We had nearly a 4-hour drive to the Norfolk terminal, from central Virginia. This is nothing when you consider the fact that drive was going to get us to the Caribbean, we like homeport cruising. I was very skeptical of the park here, take bus, arrive at cruise terminal approach Norfolk has setup. Overall this worked quite well and we arrived at the Norfolk Half Moone terminal about a half hour after arriving at the parking lot. Our previous Grandeur cruises was from Baltimore, which allows you to park right at the cruise terminal, but charges you about $5 more a day to cruise from their facility. Once at the cruise terminal the biggest hold up was only having two metal detectors for everyone to be screened with, one or two more and the lines would have moved much quicker. All things considered, from the actual time we pulled onto the Parking lot, got bused over, cleared security, checked, and walked on the ship wasn't much more than an hour. Overall I did not think this was very bad.
Day 1- We got our luggage within the first couple hours of being on board, about the same amount of time as our other cruises. We missed lunch in the Windjammer, as we got to busy showing the ship to several others that traveled with us. Muster drill was at 3:30 and lasted about 20-25 minutes. Sail away was just a few minutes past 4:00, we stayed on deck 10 and watched until we sailed past VA beach into open Ocean. I enjoyed sailing past some of the industrial areas and Navy ships along the way. Once the ship speed picked up on the ocean, the top decks were very windy and a little cold for most.
Day-2 This was a full day at sea. We spent most of it between the pool deck and solarium. It was still cool today, as the ship was only as far as Cape Hatteras, NC. This was also the first formal night of the trip. We took pictures, since we were all dressed up; we usually take at least one picture worth $20 during the trip.
Day-3 This was another full day at sea. We again spent our time between the pool and solarium, with some time on deck 10 lying out and reading. Today, I lost my XM radio signal, so just the pre-recorded stuff and mp3's I loaded onto my Inno radio. We stayed up late and partied the night away in the Viking Crown.
Day-4 We slept in some from the late night partying. We hit the gym for a while, since two solid days at sea had us feeling we needed some exercise. I got an awesome salad in the main dining room, from salad station set-up in the middle. We made sure we was up on the top deck about 45 minutes prior to arrival in San Juan, this way we could take pictures of El Morro from the ship. We arrived at San Juan right at 2 p.m. and people actually started getting off about 2:30. I needed to check e-mail, since we had data in port I did this until around 3:00 pm. By then we only waited in line to exit the ship for about 10 minutes. Since our ship arranged shore excursion of San Juan was canceled due to Mother's Day, we did our own. Once off the ship we found a tour driver that charged us $10 per person for a small tour of old and new parts of San Juan. At the end of the tour he dropped us off at El Morro. El Morro closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays, which still left us plenty of time to get off the ship, see parts of the city, and make it here. We spent about an hour and a half walking though the fort and taking pictures. I really enjoyed this; it was one of the highlights of my cruise. With the tour of El Morro complete, we decided to walk back into the part of old San Juan that was closer to the ship. All of this was more or less downhill, so we walked it. We looked in shops and browsed for cool things we might want to take home. Originally, we thought about eating ashore in old San Juan, however we found most restaurants' very busy. This may have been due to at least partly by it being Mother's Day. So, we decided to head back to the ship and grab dinner in Main Dining room. We thought we may have had time after second setting dinner to head off the ship for a little bit, but we didn't. Instead we stayed up on the upper deck for sail-away and pool party. As a side note the Carnival Victory left at 10:00 for anyone wanting to watch it sail away.
Day5- Our Anniversary, spent in St. Thomas! Ship arrived very early at 7:00 a.m. to a light mist or rain. We had breakfast, and headed off the ship around 9. We had already decided we wanted to do the Paradise Point sky ride that looks over the harbor. It was still a little cloudy, but the rain had stopped. My wife looked in the shop; while I watched the cloudy skies give way to a bright blue sky. We drink several drinks out on the patio and took some amazing pictures. My wife, found out she loved the 'Bushwhacker' frozen drinks from here. About lunch time we headed to Megan's Bay to enjoy the beach. We had a nice day swimming and relaxing at the beach. We headed back to the ship around 3:30. Once back on the ship we had a snack in the Windjammer and watched sail away. The Carnival Victory followed us to St. Thomas, and sailed right after we did. I got several good pictures of her leaving. Even though this was our second time in St. Thomas, we can't wait to go back, maybe even for a week.
Day6- Samna, Dr We arrived to dark overcast clouds. However by mid-morning these where gone. We booked the RCCL shore Excursion, beach break on Cayo Levantado. This was very nice with a beautiful beach and water. I like this beach because it had waves, not monster ones but much bigger than Megan's Bay. The worst part about this island was the appearance of flies, they would come and go, and when they came around would drive you made. This was not enough to ruin the trip, but something you should be aware of. Mixed drinks and beers ranged from $3 -7, Hot dogs, and burgers from $4 and up. You could get grilled lobster for $20.
Day 7- Labadee This was our first trip to Labadee, we had heard so much about it. Lots of construction going on here, the new pier, beach expansion, and new buildings, all of which we are told is to be ready for Oasis. This really did not impact our time here, no loud noises from machines, just an occasional hammer in the back ground. The BBQ lunch here was good; the burgers taste much better grilled. One note here is, the Haitian flee market is filled with so many people wanting you to buy their items. We tried to tell them just let us look, but this did not work. We left when we got tired of being haggled. Also, if you decide to walk all over Labadee, be sure to wear shoes that you don't mind getting dusty. My sandals had totally changed colors when I got back on the ship. Also, take some money off the ship if you want to buy anything from the local markets, they are not taking your sea pass card 'yet':)
Day 8- Was at Sea, we spent the day by the pool sipping on assorted mixed drinks. Tonight was formal night, so we took some more pictures.
Day 9- Our last full day of our cruise, spent by the pool and solarium. We ate lunch in the Main dining room to avoid the crowding at the windjammer. We sorted thought the pictures we had taken during formal night and packed our bags.
Disembarkation- This was our first time trying the 'new' disembarkation process. On paper I could not see much that had really changed, except for a few extra 'relax' and 'enjoy' added to the process. We got up early enough to do breakfast in the windjammer. Then proceeded to our stateroom until 8:30, when we was to head to the Theater for our group number to be called. We must have got lucky; as soon as our elevator arrived at deck 5 they were calling our group number. We never did have to wait in the theater, and was off the ship in less than 10 minutes from leaving our stateroom! Once off the ship we collected our bag on our own and headed out. The line for porter service was fairly long, but lots of porters were available and being put to use as fast as the line could move. Once out of the facility we caught the bus over to the Cedar Grove packing lot. The worst part about this was during our drive over it started to rain heavily. Once we arrived at the parking lot, the porters started taking all the luggage off the bus. However, before the bus driver would allow us to get off the bus, they had to have the luggage unload first. Our luggage was one of the first off, and got SOAKED. I could have taken it to our vehicle and saved it from five minutes worth of rain if the bus driver had allowed us off sooner. This was the biggest flaw in this system I saw, and think a canopy could have fixed this.
Food- Since this was our third time on the Grandeur, I had a good idea what the food would be like. I did feel that many of the main dining room dishes were a little better. We particularly enjoyed several of the soups like the onion soup and lemon grass with shrimp. The Windjammer had a new layout since we was on the ship the last time and seemed to have a little more variety, although I didn't think that was the case for breakfast. Our main dining room waiters were very good and always professional. I would like to think Sijeit our main waiter and Roderick our assistant waiter for the good service.
Ship- Well, we know the Grandeur pretty well by now, and she did not disappoint. Even though this is now one of the smaller ships in the RCCL fleet, we think it's still a very nice size with most amenities we needed. We did think the cosmetics of the ship have gone a little south. Examples include the deck 10 matting, tile work in solarium, and some of the carpeting. Did this mess our trip up? No, just things we noticed. On a positive note the dent repair to her side look good. We also thought the staff did a much better job cleaning after people that left plates and cup all over the ship, especially the pool area. During our last cruise, we had to often move plates and cups to use an area. We also were lucky enough to have the humor of Captain Hempstead on our cruise once again. Many enjoy his dry humor and easy to understand American voice.
Thanks for reading we had a great time aboard the Grandeur. We have already started looking at the Enchantment Itineraries out of Norfolk and Baltimore. RCCL keep up the home port cruising. Read Less
This being our seventh cruise, and our daughter's fourth, I would consider us to be seasoned cruisers having sailed with Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Carnival. Overall, this was our most boring cruise, the reasons of which you will ... Read More
This being our seventh cruise, and our daughter's fourth, I would consider us to be seasoned cruisers having sailed with Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Carnival. Overall, this was our most boring cruise, the reasons of which you will see below.
We enjoy cruising out of ports that we can drive to, so Norfolk is about the furthest we will go to from our home in Kitchener, Ontario. The first thing that was immediately apparent was that even at 50 years of age, my wife and I were to be younger that the average cruiser on this voyage. This did not please our 15 year daughter, and set the tone for the whole cruise. The embarkation process was efficient and prompt, even the shuttle ride from the parking lot about a mile away was good. If I were to sail out of Norfolk again, I would definitely consider staying at the Sheraton across the street from the cruise terminal and leave my car there for the duration of the cruise. Indoor parking, convenient, and save $90 parking fee.
Ship Info - The Grandeur of the Seas is an older ship, but I must agree with most reviewers that they have done a great job in keeping her clean, and in great condition with no real wear visible in the public rooms. I wish they had done the same in the staterooms.
Stateroom - Our stateroom was on deck seven aft. Its location was perfect for us because it was two decks below and two and three decks above all the activity on board. The cabins are small, and with three of us in the room at the same time, it felt cramped. The television is tiny (9") and the bathroom is the type where you can do most everything while sitting on the toilet. The tap on the sink was not supplying cold water, and even getting the staff to repair it did not work. Closet space is at a premium on this ship, so if you are a packrat, you may be in trouble, especially since some larger luggage will not fit below the beds. Speaking of the beds, they were OK, but not as comfortable as other ships we have been on with Princess and Carnival. Our cabin steward was efficient, although he never introduced himself, and did not see much of him. Dining - There are primarily three choices to dine on board the Grandeur. The Great Gatsby Dining room, the Windjammer Marketplace, or Room service. The dining room is a very pleasant space, airy and inviting, service was efficient, but not overly friendly. The food, although presented nicely, was a disappointment. Portions were small, lacked flavor and diversity. The Seafood was the worst of all; the shrimp cocktail looked like it came out of a supermarket $5 shrimp ring. The Windjammer is on level 9 in the front of the ship, not what I would consider the best location for a dining area. A great view, but you feel every rock and roll of the sea. The food here was of fair quality, and being a buffet, quantity is not an issue. Biggest problem, it was the same menu everyday for breakfast and lunch. Can't comment on dinner as we used the dining room every night. I wish we had gone there for dinner, because we had late seating (we had no choice) and if you leave the dining room hungry after late seating, you have a choice of room service or a small Solarium grill that served Ok fries, but really lousy pizza, burgers and hotdogs. We used Room service for the majority of breakfasts, and its' service was prompt and the requested time, but limited to the same things every day.
Activities on board - If you have taken at least one cruise, you will be familiar with the usual games and activities available on board. Well all the same stuff happens here, pool games, horse racing, belly flop and hairy legs contest, all predictable and boring for repeat cruisers. Do you like Bingo? That's an expensive pastime on this ship. $21 for a 3 game card for four different games and $31 for six games per card. And the payouts to the winner is 100 to 180 dollars. Lousy when there are 300 people in the room playing.
Kids Clubs - Our daughter is 15, and this area was a major disappointment for her. The Fantaseas club is basically a room with video games and arcades for kids to spend their parents' money on the Sail card, there was no music available for kids to enjoy, and the staff member there basically left them on their own. This can lead to big trouble, which at the end of the cruise it did for some kids, as the managed to get some young adults to buy alcohol for them, and partying and some destruction occurred. This was reported to the crew on the last night and the affected parties were promptly arrested by Norfolk police. Who knows, maybe a better on board program may have prevented this. Fortunately, our daughter made fast friends with a good group of kids, and they had fun together, exploring the ship, and hanging out.
Service - Overall service on board was good and professional. I found the stall were not friendly with passengers, with minor exceptions of our assistant waiter and the odd bar waiter. Boy, were they pushing the drinks on you, everywhere you went. Most of the staff went about without a smile and basically ignored you when you told them you did not want any alcohol. The cure for this was to bring a glass of water or iced tea with you when you go to the lounges and order your drink when ready. Entertainment - Well, what can I say here, predictable and somewhat boring. Comedians, a juggler, magician, Elvis impersonator, Ship's dancers and singers, Cruise director and staff. They tried to do their best, but let's face it, we have heard the same jokes for years, corny, boring stuff. If you are a Karaoke fan, this was probably the most enjoyable part as some of the folks were actually pretty good, rivaling the singers on board.
Ports of Call and excursions - We preferred to take our own excursions on the Islands, one to save money and two to get a better flavor for the local culture. Our tour guide in San Juan was Victor Reyes and he was very good, showing us Old and New San Juan like we have not seen before. He was very pleasant informative and best of all unhurried. Great value at $25 per person for a 3 hour tour, and air conditioned too. Our guy in Saint Thomas was Patrick, another good guy that took us on a 4+ hour tour all over the Island, with a one and a half hour stop at Emerald Beach. A very nice quiet, non-crowded beach near the airport that belongs to the Best Western Emerald Beach resort, but allows cruise passengers to use it's beach at no charge, including the umbrellas and lounge chairs, sweet. We really enjoyed this tour. On this trip, the ship docked on the northern side of town at a dock named Crown Bay, shopping there is very limited and a cab ride to downtown. Personally, I prefer the dock by Havensight mall with all the shops right there. Samana in the Dominican Republic is a different sort of place. If you remove the facts that the area is very poor, there are crappy motorcycles everywhere, the roads are horrible, and the general living conditions are almost unbearable to our standard of life, the countryside is very beautiful and for the most part unspoiled. I was told by the locals that things are improving, but progress is slow. It seems that this ship is the only one that stops there. Everyone on our tour gained a greater appreciation for our way of life at home. Hurricane Gustav forced the cruise line to change our itinerary, so our last stop was their private Island in the Bahamas, Coco Cay. This was a great stop offering good beaches, snorkeling, parasailing and souvenir shopping.
Disembarkation - This process was fairly well organized. We were off the ship and on our way to the parking lot by 10:30. It seemed really slow getting off the ship, but they did a good job in not congesting the customs and terminal area.
Summary - We rated this voyage as fair, but not memorable. Read Less
Our 9 day Caribbean cruise on the Grandeur was overall positively wonderful.
My boyfriend and I drove from Richmond, Va to Norfolk. Easy. We found the port without a problem, parking was easy. We arrived around noon and next time I would ... Read More
Our 9 day Caribbean cruise on the Grandeur was overall positively wonderful.
My boyfriend and I drove from Richmond, Va to Norfolk. Easy. We found the port without a problem, parking was easy. We arrived around noon and next time I would go a bit earlier. We did have to wait for a while but they served cookies and lemonade while we waited and made sure we had all of our paperwork filled out correctly.
As I have read on many previous reviews, the Grandeur does show a little age. However, she is kept very clean for the most part. The tables up on Deck 9 by the pool could have used more attention. Other people's dirty dishes were often left on the table longer than I cared for. The ship is decorated very nicely with some interesting paintings.
The service on the boat was superb! From the Great Gatsby Dining Room to the Windjammer to the lounges to the stateroom attendants- they were all wonderful. To me, the excellent service was one of the main things that made our trip a true vacation.
There were many fun activities on board. You can do them all or do none of them but plenty are offered. The Quest was the most hilarious thing ever- all adults with a good sense of humor should attend! The bingo was fun, although a bit pricey, but I guess that is to be expected when playing for an $8000 jackpot! The RockWall was fun and we never had to wait. Okay- I didn't climb it but my boyfriend did a few times. We also enjoyed the Love and Marriage game show, the Mardi Gras party and the Casino was a big favorite.
All four of our ports were great. We did not book any excursions through RCI and not only had a great time but also saved a lot of money. We went on a tour of San Juan ( Juan Carlos was our guide- truly hilarious- and they were waiting to take people as soon as we got off) The city itself is pretty dirty and smelly but the mountains and beaches were nice. Definitely go see the Capitol Building and the two forts.
St. Thomas is good for shopping. Prices are very reasonable. We took a van to Megan's Bay which is pretty. We snorkeled there and saw a few fish, but loved the clear warm water. The Dominican Republic had to be my favorite stop. We found George who took us on a tour of Samana on the back of his scooter/motorcycle type thing. We took along a few beers and thoroughly enjoyed it. He dropped us off at a local restaurant where we had a delicious red snapper and fried bananas lunch. Knowing a little Spanish here was definitely a help. Out last stop was in Labadee. I thought this was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen- it was quite rocky but once you went out a little it became sandy. The water was as clear as could be and very warm. If I ever go there again I would definitely do the zip line. That did look like an awful lot of fun. The Haitian market was a little much for me with all the please come see my things, they are the best, etc......... I know they are just trying to make a living but I have a hard time shopping in that kind of environment. Be sure to haggle with them as they will come WAY down from what they originally ask for.
Our stateroom was perfectly fine. The bed was so comfortable and I guess one of the benefits to having an inside room is that it gets completely dark- we slept like babies! Out attendant, Alvaro, was fabulous. The bathrooms are small, which we expected, and I never really did master the shower thing without flooding the floor. It was always clean and Alvaro got us everything we could have needed.
Our one disappointment was dining in the Great Gatsby Dining Room. The service was fabulous ( thanks to Eva) but the food wasn't all that tasty. Meats were tough and to me tasted all the same. We went there for dinner 3 times out of the 9 nights. We ate in the Windjammer or ordered late night room service instead and were perfectly happy. The Windjammer has so much stuff to choose from- good soups, salad bars, stir fries cooked to order, yummy omelets in the morning. We were also pleased with room service getting Caesar salads, chicken wings, and a turkey sandwich. They were also quite prompt. We ordered coffee to be delivered in the morning which made waking up easier as we could relax and watch Dan's Morning Show before heading out for the day.
Getting off on our last day ( we were so sad!!) was extremely easy. We chose to carry off our luggage and were back in the car by 8:10 am. Stopped for breakfast on the way home and were back at the house by noon for a 3 hour nap!!
A few suggestions- we took along big insulated cups which we could use for coffee or ice water. You can fill up your cup anytime on Deck 9 by the Windjammer. Definitely carry off your luggage- if you can manage it. Get to know your favorite bartender- they will know your name after Day 1 and know exactly what you want and how you want it. Load up on spinach salads and steamed veggies ( they were very good). We left the ship without gaining a single pound! Take advantage of all the activities, but don't bother buying the $30 dollar video. It was not worth the money. Definitely go to Deck 5 to watch the sunsets. It was a very relaxing, memorable vacation- have fun :-) Read Less