Background information: I booked this cruise with my recently widowed sister so that we could have some sister time together. It was her first regular cruise (she did one previously with Tauck) and her first time to Bermuda. It was my ... Read More
Background information: I booked this cruise with my recently widowed sister so that we could have some sister time together. It was her first regular cruise (she did one previously with Tauck) and her first time to Bermuda. It was my 27th cruise, and my 7th visit to Bermuda - my third on Grandeur of the Seas. I was 80 years old at the time of the cruise and I use a mobility scooter to get around. The scooter easily folds into a small light package, but my (younger) sister fell just before the cruise and sprained her wrist so while she could fold the scooter, I didn't want her to have to do so.
Travel to embarkation port; Normally for embarkation in Baltimore, we drive up and stay at a hotel which offers free parking, but for this cruise, my sister came down to Baltimore on the train the day before and my husband Bob was dropping us off and picking us up. On embarkation day we drove straight up to the Cruise Maryland terminal and got there about 12:30. They gave Bob a big orange window sign that said Drop Off and we gave our two bags to the baggage men. Bob put together the scooter, put the red duffel with the scooter charger underneath the seat and my computer bag on the back and I put my pocketbook under the seat and he bungie corded my cane to the front of the scooter, and we got in line. (My sister just had a large pocketbook)
Embarkation: My sister had to put the red duffel bag, my pocketbook and the computer bag, plus my camera and my cell phone through the scanner and then they were going to pat me down. She started to load stuff back on the scooter before they got to me to pat me down, and they reprimanded us for that and made the red bag go through again. Then we got to where we gave them our passports and our set-sail passes. The lady had a problem that my passport says my name is Rosalie Ann (with a space) and my registration says RosalieAnn without a space. She said she had to get that changed, and the confusion, she forgot to photograph us. We got on the ship at deck 1 with the wheelchair people instead of going up the ramp, but when we handed our cards to the lady at the entrance, there were no photos on them !!! So she took our photos there. God knows what they look like. I took off my hat and my hair is probably all on end. I guess it is fortunate that no one sees them except the ship company.
The lifeboat drill was out on the deck and took a long time. They put all the people on scooters or with wheelchairs in one section so I could actually see what was going on, but on other ships, they do this drill for the handicapped people indoors so the people with them can sit down.
Ship information: Grandeur is a smaller ship, which I appreciate. The only complaint I have about the ship is that it is very noisy. The music in the atrium is LOUD. If I were not already partly deaf, I would be after spending any time in the atrium. The internet connection was quite good in our cabin but I had signed up and then canceled and signed up for a different package, so I got two computer cards at embarkation. The man in the computer lab was excellent at straightening this out.
The elevators were pretty quick and I didn't usually have a long wait, but I always had a hard time when I got off the elevator in figuring out which way to turn to get to our cabin.
My sister quite liked the spa. We both swam in the spa pool which was nice and warm (it was salt water). I loved the spa pool, but for my sister the pool was 5'4" deep - too deep for her to stand, and it made it hard for her to keep the splint on her hand out of the water, so she mostly went up there to sit and read as it was warm and quiet up there.
The library is pretty useless. We looked to see if they had a backgammon board, but they did not and the library is right off the atrium so it is very noisy. The band that played in the atrium was quite good and they played classical music in the afternoon which was nice and not as loud as at night. The climbing wall was sometimes closed because of the wind conditions, but we weren't going to be doing that anyway!!
The ship made good time to Bermuda and probably could have docked at 2 pm - the five day cruises arrive on the second day at 1 pm. But they took the long way around the island instead of just going straight in and the reason for this was apparent when we got around to King's Wharf. Disney Magic was still at our spot on the pier. So we had to wait until the tugs pulled her off the pier before we could dock. We did not get docked until 5, and the Craft Market was closed by then. That was a waste of time we could have had in Bermuda
Activities: I did not do any of the regular scheduled activities such as bingo or trivia because I was too busy talking to my sister. We haven't traveled together just the two of us (without husbands or parents) since 1964.
There were two formal nights. One was the first sea day and the other was the day before Halloween. Since Halloween was the last night on the ship, the cruise director scheduled the Halloween costume parade on the second formal night so that we would not have to be packing and doing costumes on the last night. This worked REALLY well. My sister was Red Riding Hood and I was Grandma after the wolf ate her. There was a great parade of costumes with prizes. The only problem with this was the noise - the music was played so loud that you had to yell in someone's ear for them to hear you.
Cruise Critics meeting was on the first sea day and they had munchies and drinks and a nice raffle for prizes. I think they should have people introduce themselves, but RCCI does not seem to do that.
There was a meeting for Platinum and above at 10:00 and I had to leave breakfast (because service was slow) in order to get to it and I was 15 or 20 minutes late. The Captain and the Cruise Director spoke to us and told some jokes. All the heads of the departments were introduced and each said where they were from and thanked all of us for sailing with Royal. They had an award for the couple who were Pinnacle Plus (more than 700 days cruising) and also a Crystal award for another couple.
Entertainment: I didn't go to any of the shows or lectures, but my sister did and she liked them. Some of the shows were broadcast on the TV later
Dining: We went up to the WIndjammer for lunch on embarkation, and never used it again. I can't hold a plate and a glass and still run the scooter and there was no one to help at all. The labels and some of the dishes were over my head, so my sister had to get me something to eat and drink. It is perhaps unfair to judge the Windjammer on the basis of embarkation lunch, but we never went there again.
For dinner, we had My Time Dining and we got a nice table for 10 at 5 pm which we had for the rest of the cruise thanks to the guy assigning the tables. Service there was great. The quality of the food was sometimes good and sometimes not so good. The cakes tended to be dry. There was one lobster night which also included strawberry soup (very good) and baked Alaska
We used Izumi one time. Japanese food is not my "cup of tea", but my sister who often eats Japanese food and is a better judge than I am liked it very well, and thought that the prices were quite reasonable. My sister also like the Ben & Jerry's ice cream
Since we were not using the Windjammer, we always had breakfast in the MDR. Service was quite slow. It did not matter if you ordered the Express Breakfast or the Special of the day - it was the same as far as speed went. They had a buffet set-up for fruit and cold cereal but my problem with this was the same as with the Windjammer. One morning was Chocolate morning, and the chocolate bread was delicious.
If we wanted breakfast before the MDR opened, we had Room Service. A hot breakfast it is $7.95 extra plus a 15% tip, but if you don't get a hot breakfast (by which they apparently mean eggs), it is free. So we ordered oatmeal and tea and English muffins for 6:30 to 7 and a wake-up call for 6:30. At 6:20 I got a call that breakfast was coming. He needed two trips because the hot water for the tea would not fit on the tray. The tea was hot but the English muffins were barely warm and ditto the oatmeal. I ate mine, but my sister didn't want just barely warm oatmeal. The second day in port we just had yoghurt, fruit and tea from Room Service.
Lunch in the MDR also has a buffet section for a chopped salad which I hesitated to use because I thought I would have a problem doing this on the scooter. On the last day at lunch I did try it and it was excellent, but I did have to carry my plate back to the table myself. On other ships when I have done this, one of the servers carried my plate back to the table for me.
Shore excursions: I booked two excursions for Sunday which I thought I could reasonably do on a scooter and which would give my sister a good overview of Bermda. One was the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (BAMZ), and the other was a boat tour of the island both listed as Easy. I had booked a private guide for Monday.
The excursion desk switched the BAMZ tour to Monday, so we canceled that one. When I got the tickets for the boat tour, it said that people must be able to walk and climb steps. That was NOT on the excursion write-up on the website or on the printed information about the excursion. I can walk a little and if I have to I can climb steps but I decided to cancel this excursion too. I talked to someone who took it and she said that the boarding ramp was a narrow shaky plank so it is probably good that I canceled it.
Instead we booked little red train (The Scenic West End Trolley) and that was scheduled to meet at 9:15 for an hour tour. We thought maybe we could go to church afterward. They said that I could not take my scooter on the train (although I really could have done as there was space for it folded up), so I decided that I would leave the scooter on the ship on deck 1. They offered me a wheelchair so I took it to the end of the ship where there was a little tent with seats and we sat there. But 9:15 came and went and we did not see the little red train. The lady that said she would come and get us when the time came, did NOT come and get us and when I finally saw the train out about 400 yards from me she had already gone past. So with great difficulty, I walked, stopping at each bollard to rest, and finally got to the street where the train was and collapsed into a seat where the taxi drivers wait. It came around the corner to us so I could get on. By now it was 9:40.
The actual tour was nice. The driver (Sidney who was 92 years old) explained a lot of Bermuda history including how they built their houses and how the roofs are configured to collect water. He said when modern houses are build, they dig a big hole as big as the largest room, and then line it to make it waterproof. That acts as a cistern and they build the house on top of it. He went out of the dockyard and all the way to Somerset Parish. We had thought that we could get to church after the train ride, but we did not get back to the dockyard area until about 11:30 and then instead of taking us back to the ship he let us off at the Clocktower Mall. This was not acceptable - I could not walk back to the ship and I couldn't stand and wait for the free train to get back there either as I would still have had to walk quite a distance from the free train to the ship.
Independent Activities in Port: After the excursion driver dropped us at the Clocktower Mall I hired a taxi [Conrad Albouy (441-334-8796)] for $50/hour and we went to lunch at The Swizzle and to the BAMZ. Then on Monday I had a guide my husband and I had used before [Lewis Foggo email: firstname.lastname@example.org]. He gave us an excellent tour. He showed us where the ship logos that had been painted on the walls in the dockyard were erased by the Americas Cup people. We saw a lot of beautiful beaches and overlooks. He showed us a property for sale They want $695,000.00 for 0.28 acres (a little over a quarter of an acre). There was nothing on it. He said no one had bought it because they were asking too much money. He took us up to a fort on a hill, and we went to St. David's Lighthouse. We even got to see the ducking in St. George which I had never been there in time to see before.
Service: Our room steward was very good and gave us ice for my sister to put in the ice bag for her wrist. The service in the MDR at dinner was very good. Breakfast service was cheerful but slow.
Disembarkation We got our disembarkation tickets and times in the stateroom on the 29th. On November 1st we are to get off between 9:15 and 9:30. (Green 21) - the next to last time. I went up to ask about it. The customer service desk estimated 45 minutes to get our bags and get out to be picked up, which would be about 10 am. She says that my husband Bob who is picking us up will only be able to wait for a couple of minutes. Since he will be driving 100 miles to pick us up, and we are not really sure when we will be off the ship, this might be a problem.
I thought Bob would leave about 8 to get there at 10. But I was worried as I had not heard from him for the whole length of the cruise. So about 6:45 I tried to call and got the answering machine each time. Eventually I called our daughter in Texas because she said she would check on him to be sure he wasn't doing the back house roof (which he was) when he was home alone. She said he hadn't seemed to be getting my emails. (He said later that they had all gone to spam).
We vacated the cabin and went to breakfast about 7:45 with the carry-on luggage (for me this was my computer bag and my pocketbook and cane as I had sent the red bag with the charger down with the suitcase and my sister just had a large purse). We both got the Express breakfast, which still wasn't very express.They had told me that they would announce disembarkation numbers in the restaurant, but they did not. So when we finished breakfast they were up to #17. We went and sat in the library with a couple people who were B2B. We were supposed to wait on deck 6 but then I would have had to get an elevator up and then an elevator down.
I turned my phone on and we got in line a little after our group was called about 8:55. At 9:15 we were still in line in the atrium (there was some hold-up downstream) and Bob called that he was there. They would let wheelchair people get off on deck 1 (where we had gotten on), but I saw no reason to do that as I knew from previous experience that getting an elevator down there would be the hard part. We inched our way down and through the walkway to the terminal. There was a large man/boy ahead of us carrying two small bags and he kept trying to sit or lean on the HVAC systems which were posted NOT to sit or lean on and which had benches right next to them if you needed to sit.
Went through immigration (there was no customs to go through), and then went to find our bags. Bob usually finds the bags and brings them to me, but my sister was not so organized. I put the red bag on the scooter and then we found my bag, but my sister had found her bag and then lost it again (It was black like all the other bags and she has not apparently learned Mother's trick of tying some colorful thing to the handle)
Then we went outside and the cars picking people up were all by the fence out by the road. Bob was there. He was able to wait for more than a few minutes. He took my sister to the train station and then we drove home.
Summary I enjoyed the cruise and I always enjoy Bermuda. But I don't think I have converted my sister to cruising. Read Less