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