We traveled on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, from Baltimore, leaving on August 29th and returning on September 4th, 2004. We booked through Cruise.com, getting a rate of $654 per person for 6 nights, for a Category F outside ... Read More
We traveled on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, from Baltimore, leaving on August 29th and returning on September 4th, 2004. We booked through Cruise.com, getting a rate of $654 per person for 6 nights, for a Category F outside cabin on the 4th floor. I tried to get this same rate booking directly through Royal Caribbean, but they told me they could not match it and suggested I book through the other agency.
First a note about what we expected from this vacation. We were not especially interested in shore excursions...after a very hectic and stressful summer, we wanted to get away to rest and relax before my husband started school in September. This vacation fit the bill exactly.
Sailing from Baltimore was a definite plus. The port was less than an hour from our home, and not having to deal with the hassle of air travel added to our enjoyment of the trip. We arrived at the port around 12:30 p.m., dropped off our luggage at the ship, and I waited while my husband parked in the long-term lot, where he caught a shuttle back to the ship. We were checked through very quickly, and assigned a number and told to wait in a roped off waiting area. This area was very crowded, without enough seating, and some improvements could definitely be made. When boarding began (probably about 15 minutes from the time we entered the waiting area), Platinum and Diamond patrons were boarded first, then they began calling numbers...all the passengers holding one's boarded, then the two's etc. We had number 13. In total, we probably waited about 30-40 minutes from the time we entered the waiting area until we boarded the ship.
We were very happy to find we had been upgraded from our category F outside stateroom to a balcony stateroom on the 7th floor - something that we would not have been able to afford on our own. In addition to the bed, the room contained a seating area with a sofa bed and vanity area, and sliding doors out to the balcony...very comfortable. The balcony contained two chairs and a small table. We did notice the rocking of the boat, which may have been due to being on a higher floor and in the rear of the ship. It was not enough to be uncomfortable, though, except for one night near the end of the trip when the sea was rough enough to make the dresser and cupboard doors keep opening and closing (the rough seas may have been due to Hurricane Frances which was in the Caribbean). We also noticed some vibrations from the engine when we were docking or leaving port, and there was some noise from the nightclub below, but again, not enough to bother us or keep us awake. I imagine if you were on a lower floor the engine vibrations would be louder.
We read numerous reviews on this ship before we left, and we had high hopes. The ship exceeded our expectations. We had only sailed on Carnival in the past (Fantasy and Imagination from Florida), and we felt this ship was definitely a step above. The ship's decor was beautiful, with numerous comfortable spots to sit and watch the scenery go by. There was a nicely stocked library, and a game/card room, as well as a small putting green, shuffleboard, ping-pong, and rock climbing wall. At night you could wander from place to place easily, enjoying a band, show, dancing, game, etc. If we were not in the mood to go out, we were able to pick from a variety of late run movies on our in-cabin tv, in addition to a good number of television stations. The movie selection changed through the week, so there was always something to watch. We very much enjoyed this, something that was not offered on Carnival.
One spot where we felt Royal Caribbean lacking versus Carnival was in the shows put on in the theatre. We felt Carnival's shows were much better.
Food was very good, and service excellent. However, some portions were small, and when my husband and others tried to order a second entree or appetizer, it was delivered, but the servers did not seem happy about it. On Carnival it was never a problem...Carnival was always happy to serve as much as you wanted. Food in the Windjammer Cafe (casual eatery) was much better than the food served in Carnival's casual restaurant. Food was also available in the Solarium cafe - burgers, hot dogs, fries and pizza.
One note: We called one night to find out if the Windjammer was serving the same menu as the formal dining room, and we were told they were. So, we skipped our assigned dining time and went to the Windjammer instead. Turns out they were serving a different menu. This was a disappointment as we had both been looking forward to that night's menu, and had we known we would have made plans to eat in the dining room.
There were two very nice swimming pools - both larger than found on Carnival. In addition, each pool had a border of very shallow water where you could wade or sit on a bench and get your feet wet. One pool was in the Solarium, and this was a very nice area with padded lounge chairs, as well as tables and chairs. This pool was for adults only (16 or older), which was nice to have when the outdoor pool was crowded with children. This was also a nice place to swim when the outdoor deck was windy or when it was cool. The Solarium also had two good size hot tubs, and a roof that could be opened in nice weather. We spent a good deal of our time in one or the other of the pool areas. The outdoor pool area also contained two hot tubs.
In comparison with Carnival: On Carnival we often had a hard time finding a deck chair on the days at sea. This was never a problem on this ship. Also, Carnival closed the pools when docked. This ship kept them open, which we really appreciated since we usually did not leave the ship. (A note: In Nassau we docked next to the Carnival Fantasy and it appeared the pool may have been open, so Carnival may have changed their policies.)
We were sailing at the time Hurricane Frances was brewing in the Atlantic, so our itinerary was reversed - instead of Port Canaveral, then the Bahamas, we went to the Bahamas first. We had no problems, and the weather was beautiful. Our third stop at Port Canaveral had to be cancelled, though, when they closed the port to prepare for the hurricane. Royal Caribbean was able to arrange for a stop in Charleston, SC instead, which I was very happy about since it was a city I had always wanted to visit.
When we returned, we were happy to find the debarkation procedure much better than what we had experienced with Carnival in the past. Our luggage had to be in the hall between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. the night before we left. We had to vacate our stateroom by 8:00 a.m. the following morning. We had a leisurely breakfast outside by the pool, and were able to wait for debarkation in any public area including the outside decks. roar those interested, family tv was playing in the theatre. Debarkation started at 9:30 a.m. when our ship was cleared by US customs. We were off the boat and in our car by 10, and home by 11:00. Like I said before, not having to go through a day of air travel to get home was pure heaven.
In contrast, Carnival made us go to an assigned point (usually an indoor lounge), and wait until our color was called, and this was usually a lengthy and boring process. It seems to me that we also had to vacate our cabin much earlier than 8 a.m., but I may be remembering incorrectly. I also seem to remember that actual debarkation occurred much later in the morning on Carnival.
I would definitely travel with Royal Caribbean in the future, and would recommend this ship to anyone. Read Less