We chose this cruise because we wanted something for our family. Our boys are 12 and 14. Our departure was easy and fast. We love that the ship leaves from Baltimore, as it is a short drive from our home. We arrived on board at 1:00 p.m., ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted something for our family. Our boys are 12 and 14. Our departure was easy and fast. We love that the ship leaves from Baltimore, as it is a short drive from our home. We arrived on board at 1:00 p.m., and it was the easiest check in ever! When our boys first entered the ship their eyes lit up and bugged out! They could not believe how beautiful it was everywhere around them!
Our cabins were below decks because we like not only the quiet and the darkness, but the cabins below are always much less in cost than the higher decks. If you don't have a problem with no windows, it is the way to go. We spent so little time in our rooms, it really did not matter.
Our cabins were managed by Reginald, who did such an amazing job at taking care of our "family circus". He was kind, patient with all of us, and would have our rooms immaculate in the blink of an eye!
The dining..ohhhh..the dining! This is where the Granduer of the Seas set itself apart, not just the amazing food in the Great Gatsby, but the SERVICE...oh my..the service was stellar!!! Andro and Akeil became our friends over our 9 days cruise. Our boys thought they were the nicest waiters in the world (not just on the ship), but the WORLD! Again, patience, kindness, information about next-day activities, excellent food, we never wanted for anything. I would barely think "I would like coffee", and it would be delivered!. They knew our names within one day, and we truly felt pampered by them each and every night.
The only thing about dinner seating, is I wish that there was a way to ensure dinner could be a bit earlier to accommodate the shows. One show is at 7:15 and the other is at 9:15, and when you are eating at 8, you either miss the last few minutes at 7:15 or the beginning at 9:15. This is not a huge deal, just something that we noticed we would like to be different.
Our teens hung out with us most of the time, they did visit the arcade, but at a $1.25 a game (limited), they lost interest pretty quickly. They didn't hang out for the tournaments, which would have probably given them more of an opportunity to do more games for free. The did have a lot of programs for teens and there seemed to be a handful that were involved in the activities, but our boys were more interested in the pool and playing table tennis.
We loved Bermuda, it is such a beautiful place, with rich history and lovely people. Our excursions (through Royal Caribbean were nice, but very pricey for the experience). Our first night we went on a Pirate Ship Glass Bottom Boat Excursion, which was very nice, but should not really have been billed a Pirate Ship (we expected more "swashbuckling"), but it was more a tour with two gentlemen (both very nice and knowledgeable), but this trip was really a "glass bottom boat tour", and really did not need to the schtick of Pirates. I only say this because if you had young children expecting a "Pirate Adventure", it may not meet their expectations! The tour, however, was amazing!!!! We saw beautiful sea turtles, many beautiful fish, fed hundred of fish, saw a shipwreck and enjoyed delicious rum punch! I would recommend it, but would just a take a regular glass bottom boat tour.
In Bermuda we also did the Zoo/Aquarium Excursion. It was lovely. A bit smaller than what we thought it would be but very nice just the same. I would say that if you are watching your money, to simply take a Taxi and purchase tickets into the Zoo/Aquarium. We paid almost $400 for this excursion for our family, as it included a water taxi, however, we could have just taken a taxi for about $21.00 each way and then entered the Zoo/Aquarium for $35.00 for the whole family. That excursion COULD have cost us $77.00 instead of $400, and we did leave scratching our heads at the cost.
In Nassau, we had already booked an excursion through our Travel Agent at a much less expensive venue. We did a dolphin excursion at Balmoral Island that was not through Royal Caribbean, and it was fantastic! We had the best time on this beautiful island, where we learned, played, laughed and completely enjoyed our time! The one and only hiccup, was the ship came in at a later time than what our excursion time was, however, after working with a very nice person at Guest Services, who let us call the company we straightened it all out. I do have to comment that the Royal Caribbean Excursion Desk people were not only not helpful with this issue, but the man that we spoke with was downright rude. He basically stated..hey..you didn't book it through us, so there is nothing I can do for you. Guest Services, though, saved the day.
Our final excursion was in Cococay! Such a pretty little island! The lunch was amazing as well and provided by Royal Caribbean. I would warn parents with young children, however. We booked a Snorkeling Adventure through Royal Caribbean, that was described as "children the age of 5 would be comfortable with this excursion". They did recommend that they should be able to swim, however, it seemed more "tame" and "family friendly" than other snorkeling adventures, and that is why we chose it as it was our first snorkeling adventure. We were provided with life jackets, and for $10.00 they give you a new kind of snorkeling equipment, that quite frankly, it pretty terrible. My mask would never seal correctly. Long story short, we were in about 30 feet or more of water for the experience, which may have been ok, but they forgot to tell us about the jellyfish (while not harmful) can sting, and it can hurt for a few minutes. My oldest son, had two land on him, and he grabbed on to me in a total panic because he didn't know that they were not going to cause him harm. Unfortunately, the seal on my mask did not hold, he jumped on me to avoid being stung and I had water in my mask, up my nose, down my throat etc. Two lifeguards, thank goodness, heard my son yelling for help and came quickly to our aid, but this could have gone sideways very quickly if I had not been wearing a life jacket of my own. My suggestion, ensure that you know before you go, how deep the water is, whether or not you need to watch for jelly fish, and if they are safe or not (just be prepared, so you don't freak out). There was another lady on this trip that came out of the water crying for the same reason that we did..she was unaware that we would be around so many jelly's. The story has a happy ending, though. We ended up on a sand barge, where the kind staff showed my boys jellyfish on the deck to reassure them. We had some lovely drinks and relaxed on the barge for quite a bit. We even saw a Barracuda!
Our boys finished out the day having lunch with us (terrific lunch provided by RC) and then utilizing the floating playground in the water. FYI, this is another $22.00 per person, but you can use your Sea Pass. Please remember that when you are on Cococay, if the "beach package" isn't included in your excursion, your are going to pay extra for umbrellas, floats, etc.(floats were an extra $18.00 a person ) The people ON Cococay, who were booking the floating playground and selling mats to lay on were also not very nice. They seemed as if they really, really...REALLY did not want to be there. The playground time was for 50 minutes, and the boys did have fun while they were there.
The rest of the cruise was relaxing and lovely! Again, great staff, great food, wonderful service. Fun things to do all over the ship..you won't be bored! We would recommend Royal Caribbean, and have! Just a few FYI's for Newbies - Make sure you check and double check excursion information, and put aside some extra money for the "extras" that are not included. It was a fantastic cruise, and we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to have this family vacation! Read Less