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5 Norfolk to Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date April 2019
•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. •Ship information 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 •Disembarkation 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. •Summary 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
Sail Date October 2016
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
Sail Date June 2010
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
Sail Date June 2009
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
Sail Date August 2008

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