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Sail Date: March 2003
In early February, we decided to take a cruise with another family of five. After nearly booking a 5 night Cruise with Carnival, I found a 7 night cruise with Royal for less and all the kids had their own bedrooms. To my surprise, we were ... Read More
In early February, we decided to take a cruise with another family of five. After nearly booking a 5 night Cruise with Carnival, I found a 7 night cruise with Royal for less and all the kids had their own bedrooms. To my surprise, we were able to get 5 rooms side by side with a 6th 2 doors down on the third deck right under the dining room. I do not know if they had a group cancel, due to the pending Gulf War (we invaded Iraq the day we arrived in Key West) or how we were able to get these rooms together and at a very good price. Embarkation, Cabin and Ship Appearance: We arrived at the terminal at 2:00 (when about half the ship did). We dropped off our bags at the pier. We drove around the convention center at least three times trying to find a place to park. Their main lot was full and the overflow was a parking garage that my full size van would not fit in. After parking in the convention parking lot and having to walk abound this large building we met up with the rest of our party. The line was long but we were able to get checked in about 30 minutes. We were send into another room were they described the security procedures. After about 10 minutes we were on the gang plank waiting to have our first pictures taken. (one for fun and the other for our guest pass) The main area that greeted you when you first walked on the ship was beautiful. It reminded us of something you would see at a nice land based hotel complete with glass lined elevators. We had inside cabins under the dining room slightly to the back of the ship. The cabins were much nicer than when we went on our first cruise in 1985. The bathroom was larger, but the shower still had the cold curtain brushing against you. The girls had an adjoining room between the three of them, which gave them an extra bathroom when getting ready for dinner. Dining We had 2nd sitting for dinner. We liked the second sitting nice we did not have to hurry to get ready for dinner after our shore trips. With us having 6 teenagers on this cruise, the only requirement that we had was that we all had to have dinner together in the evening. After the first meal, that was not a problem. My son and his friend kept a journal of everything that they ate. Every evening the waiter would ask them what they had that day and the last day purchased the cook book and had the chef and many of the waiters sign it. The food was very good, maybe not a fancy as some other cruises, but much better than what we normally eat. With us having the second seating, we were in no hurry to leave the dining room. Sometimes we would be the last people there, partly from having all the fun that we had and secondly for having second and third servings. My son would have at least two main dishes and three deserts. The waiter and assistant waiter were glad to bring them as much as they wanted. After the first night, we showed them our Coke Card, we did not have to ask for a Coke the rest of the cruise at dinner they just brought one to the table. entertainment The shows were very good except for the Broadway Show. The first night that had a sample of what we were to see. The only group that we did not see was of some kids from Florida and their break dancing. They were great on the first night, I do not know how we missed their performance. The comedians were great, both the family and adult only shows. We are not big casino people, but did spend a little time there. After playing a few machines and not winning anything, my wife said play this one. there was a couple playing the same machine and was winning pretty good. After about the third pull, I won $25 and was able to keep most of it before we left for dinner. The last day, the ladies wanted to play bingo. The jackpot was over $8,000. Needless to say, we did not win and will not play bingo again on a cruise. Ports of Call Progresso - Many of the people just went to the beach that day. I took my family to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. After having been to these ruins in 1981, I found were they have deteriorated a great deal. Many of the sight you could not longer climb on for safety reasons. My kids still thought it was good. Cozumel - In the morning 1/2 of our group did the shore snorkel and the other half went in the afternoon. (we waited to long to by our tickets to go together) The snorkeling was good, not much coral to look at. At the end, we did find a nice school of fish to swim through. Had way too many people on this trip. People were swimming into each other and you could not hear the guide pointing out things. That afternoon we went shopping along the pier and my son and his friend with his dad went to Senior Frogs. Key West - On our way to Key West was the only somewhat rough day at sea. The Captain was trying to get to port early since we had to go through immigrations (this was the day we invaded Iraq). We did not do a tour and was disappointed with Key West. We were not able to get off the boat until 4:30 and the shops closed at 5 to 6, except for the bars. We did go to a small beach and saw a beautiful sunset. some people said that there were dolphins next to the ship, but we did not see them. Disembarkation and final comments. They called people off by baggage color. Since we drive to New Orleans, our color was the last to be called. No one would have known if we had left before our time or had anything to declare. We had our card filled out, but no one was there to take it. We are planning on taking a Princess Cruise on the Grand out of Galveston in March 2005 as a graduation trip for the boys. I wished that Royal would bring one of their Explorer class ships to Galveston or New Orleans. When you have a family of five, we can not afford to fly to Florida, but have to find ports that we can drive to. If they would we would have booked with them instead of Princess since we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2003
We sailed on the Grandeur on April 26, 2003. We were celebrating our 25th anniversary. The Captain and crew could not have been more helpful during this cruise. We had recently, March 9th, sailed on the Conquest so it was easy to make ... Read More
We sailed on the Grandeur on April 26, 2003. We were celebrating our 25th anniversary. The Captain and crew could not have been more helpful during this cruise. We had recently, March 9th, sailed on the Conquest so it was easy to make comparisons. While the Conquest is brand new and so huge, we liked the Grandeur better. It is much easier to get around on the RC ships than Carnival. The layout of the ship is much more compatible with getting from place to place. We had smooth sailing the entire week. When we arrived in Key West we were met with thunderstorms. It rained the entire time we were there. I wonder why we were not allowed to stay in port till noon on the day of sailing to make up for the bad weather. It surely does not take two days to come back from Key West to New Orleans. This would have pleased the passengers so much. One comment I would like to make is the purchase of the Romance Package. My husband purchased this without telling me about it. It was a wonderful addition to our cruise. We were greeted in our balcony cabin with appetizers, champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries. On the first formal night we again received appetizers and chocolates. On the morning of our choice we were served mimosas, bloody Marys and omelets with caviar, sweet rolls, cheese and fruit, etc. One night we took our formal portrait and were presented with it and a silver commorative frame. This package was well worth the $99 that he paid for it. They never needed to be reminded of what was included. The meals and gifts just automatically arrived at the cabin. I was very impressed. I found Royal C. had more things to do during the day. The meals were excellent and the service can not be beat. The Cruise Critic party was a lot of fun and a first for us. The repeat passengers party was so impressive. Each server wore white gloves and served us champagne. Even though the captain had other obligations, he took the time to speak to the passengers privately over the loud speaker. I think he went out of his way all week to connect with his passengers. As for ports, I think Progresso is a waste of time. And arriving in Key West earlier would be better than spending the entire night there. This was a waste, as far as I can see, except that the crew seems to like it. All in all, our anniversary cruise was a huge success and we can't wait to sail again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2003
April 19, 2003..time to cruise OH YEA! Departed from Dulles at 8:00AM, painless, this airport has all the kinks worked out, best airport around. We flew into New Orleans which is where we sailed from. We took a motorcoach to the dock, ... Read More
April 19, 2003..time to cruise OH YEA! Departed from Dulles at 8:00AM, painless, this airport has all the kinks worked out, best airport around. We flew into New Orleans which is where we sailed from. We took a motorcoach to the dock, checked the bags with a seacap and took off to pick up a couple of forgotten items (hair spray) and get a look at Bourbon Street. I had been to the French Quarter several years ago but my husband had never experienced it. The music was as fabulous as ever. You just cannot beat New Orleans jazz. The smells were hard to take, trash on the sidewalk (stacked up)and plenty of empty alcohol bottles to be stepped over. They need more cleaning crews. Back to the ship to wait with the masses for the "embarkation process." For the amount of people they deal with it moves pretty quickly. It is so great to see and talk to people from all over the country. We got onboard at 3:45 and immediately went to check the cabin and check in with the boss, my mother in law. She worries. We had cabins next to each other with my sister and brother in law on the other side of Mom. It was perfect planning. The cabin was great - 4510, a little too close to the front for my taste but had all the necessities and then some. Loads of drawers and cubbies to keep stuff in. Closet is large to hang all the formal clothes and stack all the shoes. A trick- if you hold up the end of the bed you can slide your suitcase under for storage. Our first day on board was Easter Sunday-at sea, we went to an interfaith service led by Fiona, held in the South Pacific Lounge, it was interesting. This was the only morning we ate in the formal dining room. It was delicious and always nice to be waited on! We spent the day by the pool and exploring the ship. Monday at sea-worked out, try the circuit training class, it is a killer. I was just proud to make it out alive! You have to be on top of things to get a lounge chair by either of the pools.. People get very territorial about their chairs. The outdoor pool had lots of kids, the solarium is for adults only and was very quiet. We hung out at both, depending on the day. How wonderful to have another day to fill with whatever you want to do, and nothing you HAVE to do. No phone, no fax and no boss...life is grand. Tuesday-Grand Cayman-Tendered in, took a long walk, checked out 7 mile beach, bought those cool T-shirts from Del Sol that look black and white and then turn to color in the sun. Of course we got some rum cake..delicious. The water is the most spectacular color, I have never seen anything like it. Wednesday -Cozumel-Docked at 10:00AM, boarded a ferry to LaPlaya Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula to Xcaret Park. What a phenomenal place. Underground rivers you can float down, turtle ponds, baby turtle ponds, Manatees, snorkeling in the bay and lots more. The only draw back was there just wasn't enough time. We may have seen one quarter of what there was to see. Guess we'll have to go back!! Thursday-Progreso Mexico-Incredible day. We boarded a motorcoach to go to Chichen Itza but as we drove through Progreso they were having a little protest. Something to do with the cab drivers and the cruise ships, there were about 100 people standing in the intersection so we could not get across. The police were there (with their oozis) and then the Mayor came and dispersed the crowd. It made for the beginning of a truly exciting day. They were peaceful and the bus driver was telling us what was going on the whole time. Things got even more interesting when the AC on the bus did not work. People get so grumpy when they start to sweat!!! I felt so bad for our guide and the driver, we finally got the whiners off the bus and kept on going! Best of all, my husband and I climbed the pyramid!! I have a little issue with heights so this did it for me. It is fabulous. You can see for miles. Learning about the Mayan culture was fascinating and they have the best deals on souvenirs outside the ruins. Friday-At sea-oh no, on the way back to the mainland. Spent the day relaxing and believe it or not, signing up for another cruise! Brand new ship-April 2004. Saturday-the dreaded ending to a great trip. An interesting development, customs found some things they did not appreciate in the luggage I guess. (Not ours, of course.) They really do not care to discuss specifics when they can't let anyone off the ship. We got off the ship at 11:20 and our flight was at 12:05. Needless to say, we did not make it. Another tip-book your airline tickets through the cruise ship or get the insurance. We called the Royal Caribbean 800 number and they had us on another flight at 6:00 and it cost us nothing. Our flights were booked through RC. Not too painful, the way I see it,we got another few hours of vacation. The service on board was top notch, we always got excited on our way back to the cabins after dinner to see what towel animal would be waiting for us. The bed was turned down with a different touch every night. Always ice in the ice bucket and coffee at our door every morning on time. The food was good, the chocolate buffet is worth waiting for. Pace yourself if you don't want to waddle off the ship. There seemed to be some issues with the water and strange smells. We bought lots of bottled water in Grand Caymen. Like I said, we had such a great time, we are cruising again, and again and.... Cruisin On- Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Grandeur of the Seas - What a beautiful ship. The openness was wonderful. The glass and marble and wood, just beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on 1/17, in the rain, so we skipped any tour of the town and went right to the ship. We ... Read More
Grandeur of the Seas - What a beautiful ship. The openness was wonderful. The glass and marble and wood, just beautiful. We arrived in New Orleans on 1/17, in the rain, so we skipped any tour of the town and went right to the ship. We boarded the bus for transfers from the airport - that left a little to be desired - felt like cattle being herded through, but once we got to the ship, the embarkation went pretty smoothly. As soon as we boarded, the teen program reps stopped our boys and gave them info on the activities. Went and checked out our cabins. They were decent - small, like all cruise cabins, but nice. The little sofa settee was a little beat up looking, otherwise it was fine. Decent location for us. The food in the Windjammer was okay for a buffet. lots of variety. decent presentation. The pizza, hot dog and hamburger stand was okay. same thing every day. The dining room - we did all of our dinners there and two breakfast and one lunch. Dinner - Service was awesome. Our waiter Sonay was incredible. As well as our assistant waiter Gabrielle. They were from Turkey and Hungary. Sonay was quick to make lots of jokes. He kept us entertained. The food was decent. Wasn't the absolute best, but it was good. Didn't care for the chicken marsala, but everything else was "yummy" as Sonay would say! We had the late seating, in the center of the 4th floor, next to the Captain's table. The only bad thing about the late seating was that some days, the shows were before the dinner and we didn't make it to the shows. Bar service was fine. Never had to wait too long to be served. The daily drink specials were good. Entertainment - the two comedians were great! The late night show that was squeezed into the South Pacific - and I mean squeezed in - it was standing room only. We didn't make it to all of the shows (because of our late seating), but the two other shows were entertaining. BINGO - oh well that $9000 jackpot got quite a crowd~ and Skippy - one of the cruise staff was hysterical - quite entertaining! We spent lots of money trying to win lots of money - didn't happen! Game shows - the Love and Marriage was really funny. The older couple - quite a riot! Didn't care for the Millionaire game show ho hum. Karoake was fun - a lot of "superstar wannabes" - some of it was a little too serious - but there was definitely some talent and lots of entertainment! The Quest - was a riot! lots of fun! we hooked up with three older couples and it was alot of fun! Other activities - were okay - wish there were more "pool games" - and more frequent. some were funny. Ports - Cozumel was awesome - we've been there before and love it there. Did our own excursion = rented a jeep and toured the island and did what we wanted to do. lots of fun! and of course, senor frogs! what a hoot! Grand Cayman - unfortunately was cancelled due to rough seas. Very bummed that we didn't go there - have never been there before and we we all looking forward to it - so we got another day at sea. The cruise entertainment staff added more activities, but i had hoped for more. I guess nothing could soothe our disappointment of not being able to swim with the stingrays! Costa Maya - loved it. first time there, little hokey in the cruise ship dock area - early on in the cruise we had heard that our original departure time was changed from 1 am until 8 pm. we were hoping to do the Uvero Beach Party at Twilight. Once we missed Grand Cayman, the captain announced that we would arrive at 8 am instead of noon, which was a small consolation bonus, but hey....Once we arrived in port, we rented bicycles and did our own tour. rode pretty far down, way past Mahajual. then we went back to Mahajual, hung out on the beach, did a little shopping, and then did a snorkeling boat trip. nice snorkeling. Then two more days at sea. way too windy and cool for sunning. unless u like sunning in jeans and a sweatshirt. The Captain - as everyone was making jokes about his learner permit, etc... he was quite young. and he liked his milk and cookies and peanut butter. What a nice captain.... funny... but still... a little young to be driving a boat! Crowd on the ship - It was a different type of crowd than we're used too. Not the 30 - 50's crowd that I read about! By the sixth day, although we were having a wonderful time, and let's face it... you make your own fun... we had enough of this crowd. i think it was too many days stuck on the ship with these people. I have to say, of all of the places we have been, and we've travelled quite extensively, and of all of the cruises, we have never seen so many rude and ignorant people. They should have offered "Elevator Etiquette" lessons for these people. And the words "Excuse Me or Pardon Me" is not in their vocabulary. They just walk right into you, bump you, push, whatever.... I don't think i'll ever cruise out of New Orleans again. Maybe it was just the mix of people on this particular ship, but they seemed to mingle amongst themselves! However, the cruise staff - very very nice, friendly and helpful. Smiling faces from all of them! Our room stewart Florian was nice. Our room was always nice and he made cute towel animals. No complaints.. we've had better, more attentive, on other cruises, but his service was fine. Gym - small - did the pilates class - for a $10 charge. it was good = nice introduction to pilates. class was a little crowded, crammed into a small area. otherwise it was fun. did not do any of the spa services on the ship this time. Done them before on other cruises. I think they're a little overpriced, and I'm so spoiled by my massage therapist, no one could top it! Rock climbing wall - lot's of fun - GET OUT THERE - it was an experience! Teen program - well, we were a little disappointed, we were actually considering this cruise and another one, and we chose this one because our TA told us there would be more activities for the kids. There was very little participation from the other teens on board. Don't get me wrong, our kids had a great time, just the programs were little lame. Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle - was held on the 2nd day in the Viking = it was nice to meet the people that we chatted on line with before the cruise. All in all, we had a wonderful experience on the Grandeur of the Seas. I would definitely sail on her again, but out of a different port! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
I was a first time cruiser, so I was expecting alot. I was disappointed in some areas but very happy in other areas. To start, the food in The Gatsby was wonderful. Presentation was good, the food was hot when it was suppose to be, cold ... Read More
I was a first time cruiser, so I was expecting alot. I was disappointed in some areas but very happy in other areas. To start, the food in The Gatsby was wonderful. Presentation was good, the food was hot when it was suppose to be, cold when it was suppose to be and the taste was very good. Our waiter served as courteously and professionally. Our assistant waiter had the biggest brightest smile on her face everytime we saw her. Whether it was in The Gatsby or at the Windjammer for breakfast or lunch. The food in the Solarium (pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs) to me tasted kind of like hospital food. Very bland. We ate there only once. The food in the Windjammer was very good. We ate breakfast there mostly and lunch a couple of times. Very relaxed and could watch the ship pull into port as you ate. The room steward we had was ok. He was not great but he kept the room clean. Twice (that I know of we came back to our room and found our room door open with nobody around) I thought that was very careless and thoughtless of our belongings and the cruise company heard about it. Also, we had purchased the Grand Romance package and did not get the pre dinner canapes or the after dinner sweets. The cruise company was also told about this. I hope they compensate me someway. As I said earlier I was disappointed in some areas but I found cruising is what I and my husband like. I am going cruising again next year and taking my mom. I think I will look into another Cruise line to see how their service is. This was my husband's and I 25th anniversary and was a little disappointed we did not get everything we paid for. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We had a great time aboard. The ship was clean and the service was great. The food was average, but the table servers were very personable. We had wonderful table partners and made good friends. The Grandeur's stage shows were great ... Read More
We had a great time aboard. The ship was clean and the service was great. The food was average, but the table servers were very personable. We had wonderful table partners and made good friends. The Grandeur's stage shows were great and the after hours entertainment were also a lot of fun. We enjoyed all the ports of call, even though we were unable to tender at Grand Cayman. Costa Maya has a lot to offer and there were good tour deals off the ship. We had an excellent tour guide and it was 4 couples per guide, instead of a 60 passenger bus tour. Snorkeling there was beautiful and the area was a fun place to stop. Cozumel has a lot to offer everyone and even though we spent the day on our own, a lot of people raved about the dolphin tour. We have snorkeled before on the island and had a great time with the catamaran tour. Leaving from New Orleans gave us a great night in the quarters and a leisurely pace to board early. We are planning to go back on this same cruise, because so far it has been one of our favorite. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
Finally getting a chance to write a review of the Grandeur! Thanks to all on the board that have provided priceless information...here is my opportunity to contribute. It's LONG, so be forewarned! Grandeur of the Seas, January 31 - ... Read More
Finally getting a chance to write a review of the Grandeur! Thanks to all on the board that have provided priceless information...here is my opportunity to contribute. It's LONG, so be forewarned! Grandeur of the Seas, January 31 - February 7, 2004 Itinerary - New Orleans, cruising the Mississippi, day at sea, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, day at sea, New Orleans Arrived at New Orleans cruise terminal at about 1:00, as we had a B Suite and thus had priority boarding, we were through security and in our cabin by 1:15. Regular boarding seemed to be flowing smoothly. We parked literally next to the ship - There is terminal parking at the dock and we parked in the spot next to the gate to access the terminal. That in itself was amazing. If you want to park in this lot, I advise getting there EARLY (11:30?) as we got the 2nd to last spot. The port employees were more friendly this time than last, thank goodness. We went up to our room and the television was on an information channel. The picnic/wine basket I ordered for Dear Husband was waiting. The room was beautiful and very spacious! This was our first time in a B suite (cabin 8008) and were very impressed! The bathroom was big enough for both of us, the tub was of nice size, and the dual vanities were very functional. There is tons of storage in this room; more than enough for a family of 4. We actually had unused drawer and cabinet space. In the bathroom there are 2 medicine cabinets on either side that are deep and functional, 3 or 4 drawers and 2 cabinets. The closet area (I called it the kitchen as that's what it reminded me of) had three closets. The first closet held longish items and had two drawers. The second closet also held longish items and had two shelves, one which was occupied with life vests. The third closet had two closet rods (shirts and pants). My only gripe about the closets were that the closets that held long items were not long enough for me to hang my formal gowns without dragging. I had to fold the tops down and clip them. There were plenty of hangers although we always bring several of our own. Also in the closet area is a full length mirror and a counter of sorts that encloses the refrigerator (which got plenty cold, especially on the top shelf) and (I believe) 8 drawers - 2 shallow, 6 deep. The refrigerator had movable shelves and door storage and could hold wine/soda/water/snacks easily. The sitting area of the cabin had a generous L-shaped sleeper sofa with tons of pillows, a glass coffee table, a chair and a tv/vcr/tv stand. You could get tapes from the cabin attendant, we just left her a note and the movie appeared! The sleeping area - 2 standard beds with duvets on top and blankets on top of that. They were surprisingly comfortable. There were also 2 night stands with 2 drawers, one with a phone on it. We had problems with our phone constantly and they had to keep "resetting" the system. We missed 5 wake up calls - Note: bring your own alarm (we did), or buy one in the boutique shop for $10. Next to the bed was a vanity area. Approximately 3 drawers here. The mirror opened to MORE storage. There was also a cabinet with 2 shelves and the hairdryer and safe in it (need credit card to operate - I much prefer the ships that have gone to using the seapass to open!) The mirror had lights around it, although you had to turn on the main cabin lights (which lit EVERY light in the cabin) to use it). There was also a lit makeup mirror here. Below the cabinet was a cd player - again you could get cds from your cabin attendant. A couple of nice things in the cabin - mood lighting - you had several options for lighting/dimming - nice touch! The whole cabin had floor to ceiling windows - BRING clothespins to hold shut if you like it dark in the morning. We pulled them shut and put a pillow on the ground to hold them in place! There is also a curtain separating the sleeping area from the sitting area. I always had my half closed while Dear Husband watched tv before bed. The tv is a bit far away from the bed, but this did not bother me. Our cabin attendant, Leonora, was marvelous! She assisted with everything we needed or wanted and was very prompt! Our cabin was in a bit of disrepair, but everything we told her about that needed fixing was handled immediately. She is to return home this Saturday for 2 months, but will be returning to the Grandeur. Thank you, Leonora, for making our vacation EXTRA special! The first day - we spent the day touring the ship - we have been on both the Splendour and the Rhapsody, so the ship was quite familiar to us. We booked our hot stone massages for Sunday. We were able to leave the ship after the life boat drill as we were not sailing until 2am, but the weather was cool and rainy so we opted to stay aboard. Dining room - we ate here all but one night (Costa Maya). We were seated at a table for 6 (#005). Our head waiter and assistant waiter were darling! Our assistant waiter was Mara. We never wanted for bread and she was always very helpful. She remembered my drink preferences after the first night, though she was not as attentive to the other couples, in my opinion; they had to ask for their iced tea and their wine, as mine appeared nightly. I don't remember our waiter's name, but he was efficient. I have had better and worse. No complaints at all with the dining room service. We never met our Maitre'D. Dining room food.....ah, the food. After sailing with RCI on 2 previous cruises it was hard to get excited over the food for us. Other than "cajun night", each night was the same as the previous cruises. Of course I had a couple favorite dishes, but RCI just doesn't excite me when it comes to food. Their sugar-free desserts are delicious, their soups, wonderful, but everything else seems a little lackluster to me. One night I even chose an additional appetizer as my main course as nothing else appealed to me and I was not going to opt for the ranch steak! My wish for these ships would be to either rotate menus every 6 months or so, or to offer different selections in the Windjammer or even room service. Unfortunately, each night was the same menu in all three places. I believe the Windjammer may have had a carving station, and no lobster on lobster night, but other than that, the same. This class of RCI ship does not have the alternate (extra cost) dining option, so you are stuck with the fare that is offered or opt for a burger or hotdog. Please don't misunderstand, I would never knock the food served, as it is especially good for my waistline that it doesn't appeal to me!! The first RCI cruise the menu was pretty good, the second I grew a bit tired of it, the third, I felt like it was a restaurant I have been frequenting consistently with the same ol' dependable offerings! I have booked again with RCI, but this time it is on the Mariner with the optional dining choices. Although I don't necessarily agree with "paying extra" for "better food", I will....you can count on that! Buffets - we only had the buffet for breakfast and three times for lunch. We usually took our food to our cabin to enjoy it on the balcony. It seemed like this ship had very few late night buffets, though - they had the chocolate buffet, the grand gala buffet and one other that I heard of, but not one every night like all other ships I have been on. The ports: Belize - one of my favorites. This was our second trip here. We booked cave tubing with X-Treme and had a blast!!! I still have little bruises on my butt from those rocks!! ? We were back to the pier about 1 ½ hours before the last tender, but didn't shop much. Just a bottle of cashew wine...Mmmmmmmm Costa Maya - beautiful! Also one of my favorites and does so much to renew my soul. No tours here for us - we hiked along the shore line on the old coral reef looking at the tide pools for hours. Had lunch at Mamacita's - ask for David - he is a character!!!! Watched the free tourist show and shopped a bit. Returned to the ship, looked at the dinner menu and returned to shore for dinner at the Lobster Shack. Had delicious lobster taquitos - Yum!!! Service was a bit slow, but the food was good! Cozumel - our 7th time here. We did the normal with Dear Husband buying me a ring or two and lunch at Pancho's. Missed Sally this trip, I'm sorry to say. I really think everyone should try Sally's Mini golf whilst in Cozumel. She makes the best sangria and is a wonderful lady! Went back to the ship early for a quick nap. The Spa - Jade gives a great stone massage. Edina doesn't put anything into it. Ask for Jade. She is young and talkative and not pushy on the products. One thing I always do is tell them up front that I have most of their products (actually I do, so I am not lying, I love their line). The Spa is clean and a bit more spacious than on the Rhapsody, I think. They also offered chair massages and scalp/neck/shoulder massages on debarkation day - that was the first I had seen of that! The entertainment: Our entertainment was good - we had a juggler, a comedian, a magician, a pianist, a singer (that we did not see), Two Crazy Guys (we saw them on a previous cruise) and only one production show as it was a brand new crew - the production show was on the last night. The ship: Clean and spacious. Lots of room to walk. The centrum was not as impressive as most ships. The fountains were dry the whole week and the sculpture was, um, different. I did NOT like the layout of the Windjammer - it was very cluttered and people were tripping all over the place to get their food, even when it wasn't crowded. The solarium was nice but not as pretty as on the Splendour. Of the 3 RCI ships I have been on, the Grandeur seemed the smallest yet is the largest! The crew: Very friendly and helpful. The purser's desk staff was more friendly than most I have encountered. The shopping and port guide (husband and wife team) were extremely helpful. The loyalty ambassador - hmm, a negative here. She did her job, but she just didn't go the extra little bit that RCI employees are known for. I did book, but not because of anything that she did - I booked because I wanted to. There was no encouragement to book onboard and if you didn't know what you wanted........well, she just wasn't much help. The CC party: Impressive! We had several show up (I was afraid we wouldn't make the minimum!) and each attendant got a pouch lanyard and a CC pin, as well as a door prize drawing for the neatest computer mouse. I really, REALLY wanted to buy one of these mice, but they didn't have them for sale ? I guess I have to watch eBay! The shops: Normal cruise stuff. However, they are now selling small "replicas" of some of the towel animals for $7 each. Unfortunately, they only had two of them available on our cruise so I am in need of the other 5!!!!! If anyone has an RCI cruise planned soon and has some extra room in their luggage...... ? That's about all that I can recall at the moment. If anyone has any questions I am more than happy to answer to the best of my ability! Thanks for taking the time to read this! Chris Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
POSITIVE: Flight was late, but cruise line took care of me. Desserts were wonderful and service was great. NEGATIVE: Gatsby entrees were a disappointment. Marsala chicken was not at all like what I have had before. Deck 4 ladies room ... Read More
POSITIVE: Flight was late, but cruise line took care of me. Desserts were wonderful and service was great. NEGATIVE: Gatsby entrees were a disappointment. Marsala chicken was not at all like what I have had before. Deck 4 ladies room was not working. Strong sewage odor on deck 5 near casino. Docking in Costa Maya was cut short according to my itinerary. We were not supposed to be at sea for 2 days. What happened? "Feel good" watch was not available in Costa Maya as we were told it would be. Gold quality (ounces) was not good for the price. Had a good time, but last cruise was better and less expensive. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
If you have never been on a cruise, but are trying to decide....read on ! My wife and I have a business which takes up 120% of our time and for the first time in 5 years we had the chance to take a week and get away. We do a LOT of travel, ... Read More
If you have never been on a cruise, but are trying to decide....read on ! My wife and I have a business which takes up 120% of our time and for the first time in 5 years we had the chance to take a week and get away. We do a LOT of travel, but it is usually pack, plane, hotel, plane and home... lots of packing and unpacking and traveling without actually seeing anything. We have a number of friends who have been on quite a few cruises and we  really - I mean REALLY - didn't understand why they went back time and time again. Well, we decided to take the plunge and called Costco (of all people) to arrange a 7 night cruise. Personally, I didn't care where, as long as my cell phone was OFF. After a night on the town in New Orleans (ouch my head!) we made for the ship. Embarkation was a breeze and it didn't take long for us to start relaxing. Everyone was out to have fun and you could see the stress lifting from people as they boarded. Very quickly we realized that there was probably no one on the ship who knew us and we would likely never meet anyone again, so the inhibitions started to fall. (I can now line dance with the best of them...I think). I splurged and purchased the "romance package" and room decoration (Bon Voyage streamers & Balloons etc... which stayed for the entire cruise) My wife didn't know I got this and it got me some serious brownie points and made the cabin so pleasant. As part of the Costco package were upgraded to a Balcony cabin at no extra charge - we were so spoiled - I don't expect we will have anything less on future cruises. My wife was amazed at seeing flying fish from the balcony each day and we loved being able to leave the sliding door open and smell the fresh ocean air. It was so wonderful to wake up in the morning and not have to go anywhere, in fact it was like going to sleep in your hotel room and waking up in another country. Didn't have to pack to catch a cab, get on a plane or answer a cell phone. We had heard the rumors of people putting on weight, so we decided to go on a diet - when we got back... however, we found that we were pretty active just walking up and down the ship, exploring different things to do. I think I lost a couple of pounds just walking between the numerous bars. At the end of the cruise, we hadn't gained or lost an ounce, and we're definitely not fitness oriented by any stretch of the imagination. The food was excellent with the waiters and staff making yet another highlight of the trip (Thanks Niel and Alvidas). We were absolutely treated like royalty, right down to the finest detail. Little things like your pre-dinner drink waiting for you at the table, just as you ordered it the night before (3 olives instead of 2, or without the lemon). No detail was too small and I was extremely impressed that we felt like we had personal service, even though there were quite a few people on board. We never felt crowded. I think the size of the ship was just right. We were able to run into people we recognized and had fun with several times, but not too many times - just right! My wife booked all the excursions, one for each port (3). Belize - Shark Ray alley snorkeling. I was a serious scuba diver and snorkeler in my youth through to only 10 years ago so it was a thrill to play with the stingrays. We also took a dune buggy ride (convoy) at Costa Maya, down through a fishing village and lunch on a secluded beach, where our guides picked coconuts from the trees and opened them for us right on the beach. There are just too many great memories, but if you have never cruised before and are wondering if it is as good as you might think - DO IT - you will not be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
While not one of the larger or newer of the Royal Caribbean fleet, the Grandeur of the Seas is clean, attractive, and relatively comfortable. The itinerary of this cruise took the ship to Cozumel, Georgetown, Grand Caiman, and Costa Maya. ... Read More
While not one of the larger or newer of the Royal Caribbean fleet, the Grandeur of the Seas is clean, attractive, and relatively comfortable. The itinerary of this cruise took the ship to Cozumel, Georgetown, Grand Caiman, and Costa Maya. I must preface this review by saying that this was my first cruise vacation and that most of my criticisms of this cruise could probably be applied to cruises in general in contrast to other travel experiences. Having said that, I must say that my enjoyment of the experience was diminished by the hidden costs (over $300.00 in tips alone for a family of 5), the constant queuing for one thing or another (the line to board the tender to return to the ship in Georgetown wrapped around the block) the rushing to get off the ship for excursions, the insufficient time to enjoy those excursions, and the rush to get back to the ship after the excursions. Our original excursion in Grand Caiman were cancelled, which was bad enough, but when we got a replacement excursion and had been tendered to the quay, that was cancelled as well. The excursion that we had purchased in Costa Maya was delayed by two hours due to some problem docking and getting the gangway set, and the duration of the port call there was reduced by 5 hours without any explanation. I suppose there may have been some mechanical problem with the ship which made it necessary to leave early. As it was, the return leg was traveled at 11 knots according to the captain. I would hate to think that it was just to save on fuel. I would hate to give the impression that the experience was all bad. The staff were very kind and efficient, for the most part, and the food was good, if not stellar. Don't expect a lot of fresh seafood. If all you want is a party experience with all the food you can eat, cruising is a good choice. For my part, I found it confining. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
A wonderful cruise! The ship is very nice, with very tasteful decor. Everything was functioning as it should, except for one very heavily-used bathroom where the toilets kept clogging--an understandable problem. Our cabin steward went out ... Read More
A wonderful cruise! The ship is very nice, with very tasteful decor. Everything was functioning as it should, except for one very heavily-used bathroom where the toilets kept clogging--an understandable problem. Our cabin steward went out of her way to make us comfortable, and she was always handy when we needed her or had a question. She came to us the first afternoon and introduced herself and explained a few things and answered a few questions. The dining room service was impeccable, and the food was average. The beef dishes were sometimes tough, and sometimes not cooked to our specifications. As for informal dining, I've had better burgers on other ships, and the pizza left much to be desired. But the fries were super! The Windjammer, the informal dining room, was very well organized, and flowed smoothly. I was disappointed that the drinks (like lemonade) came in such small cups, as I wanted to take one with me up on deck by the pool, but it would have been empty by the time I got there. There is an all-adult swimming pool and two hot tubs--a definite plus when I'm traveling without kids! There is a definite shortage of lounge chairs, though, and quite a few people were just sitting or laying on the floor. The shows were all great, but the individual entertainers were better than the shows by the staff singers and dancers. There was a comedian, a juggler, and Beatlemania Live, which was particularly great. They do have a few good singers on staff too, though; the shows just weren't impressionable. The Palladium theatre isn't quite big enough for everyone, either--there were sometimes people standing for the shows. The cruise director is good, although I noticed that he was off-color a lot, even when there were kids around. The gameshow-type games were really fun, as were the deck parties. All the ports were very busy when we were there--there were seven other ships in port at the same time in Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and two other large ships in port in Costa Maya, which doesn't have a lot of room in the new development at the pier. We left Costa Maya at 8 pm, when the online itinerary said we would be leaving at midnight (or 12:00 am the next day--many people thought we were going to be there for two days because they didn't look closely enough at the time). Leaving early really wasn't a problem, since there wasn't anything to do at night there except eat and drink. We did the dune buggy tour in Costa Maya--superb! In Grand Cayman we took the Seven-Mile beach tour, and we were very disappointed, as the area we were confined to was extremely crowded. Embarking and disembarking were the smoothest we've had yet!  Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We just returned from a cruise aboard the Grandeur. The food was fabulous, the service was splendid, and the shows were very good. I found that the daytime activities were a bit lacking (in number and interest). We had a suite on the ... Read More
We just returned from a cruise aboard the Grandeur. The food was fabulous, the service was splendid, and the shows were very good. I found that the daytime activities were a bit lacking (in number and interest). We had a suite on the eighth level (the balcony was nice but not worth the extra $600 per couple). RCCL does a good job of running a cruise ship (this was my second time with RCCL). Room service was a bit slow, but always good when it finally arrived! Debarkation is not the best in the world. There is a set color sequence (based on the color of your luggage tag). We were way down the line so we sat and sat and sat. People with flights before 1 p.m. were allowed to exit first, so they basically went to the airport at 8 a.m. and sat and sat and sat till their 1 p.m. flight!!! Give me a break!! One last complaint - smokers rule the ship! They smoke in the casino, the elevators, the hallways, the lobbies, the lounges, the open decks, just outside the entrances to the main theater, in the restrooms, wherever they please!!! Parts of some areas are designated "Smoking" while across the room is designated "No Smoking!" It's sort of like having a "NO PEEING" section in the pool!!! Get real RCCL !!! Considering everything, I will give RCCL a good score based mainly on the quality of food, the food service and friendliness of the entire staff. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
Embarkation - New Orleans Embarkation could not have been better....It literally took 5 Minutes from stepping out of the cab to walking on the ship. AWESOME! We arrived at around Noon and had no problems getting right on board. Sea ... Read More
Embarkation - New Orleans Embarkation could not have been better....It literally took 5 Minutes from stepping out of the cab to walking on the ship. AWESOME! We arrived at around Noon and had no problems getting right on board. Sea Days - We found most days at sea to be fun. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, but our biggest complaint was that several activities were scheduled at the same time, which prevented us from doing some things we would have liked to. The game show activities are a lot of fun if you are outgoing and like to participate. DON'T MISS the game called QUEST. YOU WONT BELIEVE WHAT YOU WILL SEE!!! lol! There were lots of Bingo games, but they didn't push you to play like I've read in other reviews. The Casino was nice and we did see some people hit some decent jackpots, but we didn't have any luck. Cabin - We loved our cabin. We had a balcony room on deck 7 and without question liked it better than our Carnival room. The Balcony was worth the price. We thoroughly enjoyed it. We were in a group of 9 couples and our rooms were side by side. We were able to open our balconies up and make one huge balcony for everyone to hangout together. Our room also had a fridge which we kept stocked with beer from the pool bar and we then could just grab one and enjoy the balcony with friends. Some great views out there as well!!! Dining - This was our second Cruise and first with Royal Caribbean. Our first was with Carnival. We all agreed that the food in the Main Dining Room was excellent and better than our previous cruise. The WindJammer Cafe offered similar foods in a buffet style. It seemed average. The Solarium had a snack bar which served Burgers and pizza. The Pizza was not very good and the Burgers just average. Carnival definitely had the better of the snack foods with their 24 hr pizzeria and serving breakfasts and lunches by the pool. Service - We found our service to be very, very vanilla and average compared to what we experienced on Carnival. We didn't see our steward for the first 2 days and when we did, he had very little personality. He never called us by name or went out of his way for us like our Carnival steward did. We found the same in the dining room. Our waiter was adequate, but nothing special. Put it this way...our Carnival Cruise was 3 years ago and I remember Rudi, my cabin steward and Mugni, my waiter by name still. I've forgotten these guys already. Not that they were horrible, they just were nothing special. Entertainment - The Singers and Dancers in the cruise presented shows were very good and we enjoyed them a lot. They had a juggler the last night that was simply amazing. The comedy shows were so-so. The bands that played in the various lounges were also decent. The Cruise Director Tom and his staff were lots of fun and always put a smile on our face. Ports - Cozumel BY FAR our favorite port in the entire caribbean. This was our second trip there and we chose the catch the wave BOND adventure. Folks....don't miss it. IT WAS AWESOME. We rode around on what amounts to scooters, 15 ft. under water with divers swimming in front of us pointing out things for us,bringing up starfish and porcupine fish for us to hold. He took our underwater camera with him and took numerous pics for us and of us. The tour included OPEN BAR when we were finished as well as use of a glass bottom boat and all the snorkeling you want with free equipment. IT WAS AWESOME!!! BOOK THIS EXCURSION!!! After it was over, the boat dropped us in town and we trekked down to world famous Carlos n Charlie's and had an absolute Blast. COZUMEL RULES!!! Grand Cayman - This was our second trip to Cayman also. I highly recommend the island tour and Stingray City. We really enjoyed it last trip here. This trip I elected to golf at the Links course. I found it to be a fifty dollar US course, but it had some great scenery and all in all I was glad I went. We saw a huge Iguana on one hole and got some great pics. We then went to the Hard Rock Cafe for wings and beers. The wings were hot and the beers were cold, so we were plenty happy!! Costa Maya - We elected not to take a tour here. This port really needs help. It is owned by the cruise lines, and let me start by saying that the area they have built where the ships dock is great. Bars, restaurants , plenty of shopping and a great pool with a swim up bar. Next, let me say ....don't bother leaving this area. The beach and fishing village nearby is horrible and a complete waste of time. This port really has nothing to offer beyond shopping, swimming in the pool and drinking. The food served was very good in the restaurant here. Just take my advice, there is nothing worth leaving the ships dock area for that we could find. Some friends took a 40 minute ride up to Uvero beach, but said it wasn't much better and they felt like they wasted 2 hours riding up and back. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We absolutely enjoyed our cruise on the Grandeur! The staff were most helpful and very delightful. Boarding in New Orleans was a breeze. We felt the ship looked great. She is certainly a gorgeous ship, and will most likely sail her again! ... Read More
We absolutely enjoyed our cruise on the Grandeur! The staff were most helpful and very delightful. Boarding in New Orleans was a breeze. We felt the ship looked great. She is certainly a gorgeous ship, and will most likely sail her again! I have to admit that we were lucky in Bingo and won the suite upgrade. Our initial room was on the 4th deck - can't remember room no.) It was a cabin for four. It was a little cramped for us - two moms and two 17 year-old football players! But it would have been just fine! Our cabin steward was wonderful and had suggestions for storing items and luggage! My friend and I truly enjoyed just about every bar on board. The bartenders were all great and entertaining! The shows were great too. We enjoyed all our meals in the dining room. We ate dinner there every night and everything was really good. Of course, there were a few things I didn't like, but wouldn't have anywhere! I found that lunch in the dining room was very good. The Windjammer cafe was also very good, but a different menu in dining room. We also like breakfast in the dining room. The boys used room service and enjoyed all they ordered (evidenced by empty plates!). We did one shore excursion through RCL - the Stingray City - which was great. Wish there weren't quite so many people, but was fun. We did jet skis in Costa Maya, which we bought once ashore. We really enjoyed Costa Maya - not the shops once you get off the ship, but after a 3-mile walk into "town" - didn't know it was that far - take a taxi - $3 one way! All the public areas on the ship were beautiful, and all the cabins we did see and visit were clean and well-kept. It was an experience I will remember - and one that will probably take me back! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We're going on a cruise My husband and I work very hard like most two family income couples. We both have stressful jobs that require a lot of responsibility and time away from our family. We have two sons in college and most of our ... Read More
We're going on a cruise My husband and I work very hard like most two family income couples. We both have stressful jobs that require a lot of responsibility and time away from our family. We have two sons in college and most of our savings has gone into ensuring that they don't graduate with a massive college debt. With my oldest daughter graduating next year from high school, we thought that we all needed a treat this Spring. We thought of spending a week in Key West but after airfare and hotel, we were looking at a substantial amount of money. My daughter suggested a cruise and I began to research it. I obtained prices from several websites, but all the options and decisions soon began to jumble together in my mind, so I called a local travel agent who specializes in cruises. My husband wanted to see Grand Cayman, my daughter thought Jamaica was important and I needed to get back to work on Monday so we needed a Saturday to Saturday cruise. The TA returned my call that same day with two options: A Carnival cruise out of Port Canaveral and Royal Caribbean on the Grandeur of the Seas. We knew enough about Carnival to not want to take that option, so the Grandeur was the obvious choice. Jamaica wasn't to be on our itinerary, but all of our other criteria were met. We booked right away and called the girls from their bedrooms. "We're going on a cruise!" New Orleans We arrived a day early to New Orleans. Since we drove from Indiana straight through, we were pretty exhausted once we arrived around 8:00 AM. I had booked a room at the Wyndham French Quarter through Price Line for $59 and had called ahead to request an early check in. We only had to wait about 30 minutes before we were handed our room key. After a short nap, we were ready to see New Orleans. I'd been there before, but my husband and two daughters, 17 and 13, had not. Their impression was that it was dirty and pretty much overrated but were none-the-less happy to say that they'd been there. Embarkment We arrived at the Port of New Orleans at 10:00 AM. I'd heard (and read) that there was limited parking so we wanted to avoid finding another lot and dragging our eight suitcases. They are two small side-by-side lots, one for each cruise line that they service. The Royal Caribbean lot was still full since the Grandeur had only arrived two hours previous, so we were told to wait down the road until it was 90% empty. We waited in a line of about 15 other vehicles for only 30 minutes and then were able to park. We were told by the porter that we would not be able to get on the ship until noon. After presenting our birth certificates and ID's (I had a passport and it was definitely the easiest), we proceeded through security which only took minutes. We then proceeded through jet ways and various corridors thinking the eventually we would be taken to a waiting area before we were allowed to board the ship at noon. To our surprise we were taken right to the ship at 11:05 AM. First Impressions Our first impression of the ship was that she is indeed a grand lady. The Centrum was beautiful with its seven stories of glass and polished brass. We dropped our carry ons in our cabin and proceeded to the pool deck on deck nine. It was a bit early for lunch so we were glad that we had thought to wear our swimming suits under our clothes. My daughters and I did, that is. My husband was sorry that we hadn't listened to us as it would be hours before our luggage arrived. The temperature was around 72 degrees and coming from the cold and snowy Midwest, it felt like heaven. We had requested Main Seating for the dining room and noticed at embarkment when we received our Sea Pass cards, permanent marker had crossed off Main and indicated that we had been switched to second seating. We are definitely not night people and didn't feel that having dinner at 8:30 was for us, so I went to the dining room to inquire as to why we were switched. The first person I saw was the maitre' d, who showed me the waiting list for Main Seating, on which we were the first cabin listed. My husband started to stress over not having his bathing suit and not getting our first choice of dinner arrangements so it was Mom to the rescue. They were unloading luggage on our floor and I saw ours stacked in a corner. I asked the attendant if I could take our luggage and she said it was no problem. Before I had our clothes put away, there was a knock on the door and an envelope left for us from the maitre' d. It seems that a spot had opened up for us in Main and all was well again. We found the Windjammer Buffet quickly right there on the pool deck and had a surprisingly good lunch. It is, of course, buffet food so we didn't have great expectations, but everything was hot and plentiful. My daughter and I had been exercising and watching our food intake in preparation for this cruise. We both decided that we would enjoy our vacation and not stress over every little bite of food as we had for the past six months. I had my first of many desserts there in the Windjammer and it tasted so good! Our Cabin Since our cruise was during a prime Spring Break week, our cabin selection was limited. Our TA recommended a lower deck towards the center of the ship and cabin 3600 became our little home-away from home for seven days, little being the optimal word here. We expected it to be small and weren't disappointed. With two teenage daughters and a combined 25+ pairs of shoes, we weren't certain how it would all fit, but somehow it did. Sort of. My 13 year old took the four small drawers of the twin night stands for her clothes. The 17 year old took three drawers of the desk and the remainder of her 20 shirts was stored in a suitcase under a twin bed that she pulled in and out as needed. My husband and I shared the three 18" dresser drawers and the three very small drawers hidden in the closet. The closet had about three feet of full length hanging space and another three feet of upper and lower rods. Our hanging clothes seemed to fit just fine, and believe me there was a lot of it! Reading message boards on several websites before we sailed, I had purchased several of the suggested items that seemed to be essential for any cruise and was really glad that I did. The over the door hanging shoe organizer turned out to be a real life saver for small items like body lotion, chap stick, disposable razors, etc. The shower (small but very comfortable) had four shelves for shampoo and bar soap. The medicine cabinet had plenty of space for cologne, hand cream, tooth brushes and tooth paste. The long drawer in the desk served as our make-up storage. All in all, everything found a home and we were very comfortable in our cabin, despite that fact that we had over packed. The only negative thing about our cabin was that the girls slept in pull-down berths that were stored up in the ceiling. We requested that the lower beds be pulled together into a queen bed, but our cabin steward said that this would make his job much more difficult in making up the upper berths. My husband and I haven't slept in twin beds since we were living with our parents. The first couple of nights seemed awkward, but days filled with snorkeling and activities had us falling into bed at night and after a few days we didn't seem to notice overmuch. The Dining Room Our cabin was a comedy act around 5:00 each evening. Two girls taking showers, blowing dry their hair and applying make up within a 156 square feet while trying to avoid Dad, was comical! Once they both had a hair drying going and our circuit breaker filled off and we had to call maintenance to get us going again. We settled into a routine eventually and ended up enjoying our ritual each evening. Table 63 was located in the upper floor of the dining room and situated next to a window. Unfortunately it was tucked back in a corner also and right next to the galley entrance. Our first instinct was to ask for another table, but since we were lucky to have Main Seating, we decided to give it a try. We sat with a nice couple from Minnesota. They had two charming children aged 8 and 11. I was hoping for a little older children more the age of our own, but again this turned out to be just fine! We really enjoyed getting to know our new friends and soon it was like we'd know each other for years. Here's where I talk about our waiter and assistant waiter and tears are forming just thinking about them. Yogesh Parab (he told us to call him Yogi) from India was our waiter. His little mannerisms became instantly endearing to all of us. From, "Now for yum yum time" to announce the dessert selections to knowing what we each preferred to drink before we even arrived, Yogi was a true pleasure. The one draw back to the early seating, we discovered, was that we weren't that hungry after the huge lunches at the Windjammer or the late lunches fit into the shore excursions. We never missed a dinner though, because that would mean missing Yogi. Miothan, from Nicaragua, was our assistant waiter and also a pleasure to be around. He filled our water constantly and kept our bread plates full. My daughter loved the variety of breads each night and Miothan also knew when she was ready for another roll or slice. One night I asked Miothan how long he had been in the cruise industry and he told me that he was in his forth year. He said that he worked six months and then took a six week break. I mistakenly suggested that he must not have a family and the tears in his eyes assured me that indeed he did have a family and missed them terribly. I found a new admiration for these servers after that as I tried to imaging being away from my family for such extended periods of time. Anthony (Tony) originally from Jamaica and transplanted to Miami, was our Head Waiter. Some of the discussion boards that I read suggested that many times you don't see your Head Waiter until tip night. This couldn't have been further from the truth on the Grandeur. Tony was there every night ensuring our satisfaction, flaming Bananas Foster tableside or marching around the dining room during one of the many entertaining numbers the wait staff performed. Tipping Tony was supposed to be optional, but we found after a few days that it really wasn't. Tony did as much to ensure our dining pleasure as anyone. On the last night, Tony told us that he would be leaving the ship the following day for shore leave and expressed how excited he was to see his two children. We think of you often Tony and hope your are enjoying your much deserved rest! Even our bar attendant, Ian, was prompt and congenial. My daughters ordered virgin strawberry daiquiris each night and soon our young tablemates followed suit. Ian brought them each night with a smile. Day at Sea Our first full day on the ship was spent at sea. Although we looked forward to our planned excursions, we really treasured our days at sea, three of them in total. After an early breakfast in the Windjammer, we hunted up four lounge chairs by the pool. This was a little disappointing. The ship's policy was that saving pool chairs by placing a towel on them and not returning for hours was prohibited. Nonetheless, each morning at 9:00 we had to search for chairs together and more times than not ended up on an upper deck from the pool. One morning at 9:00, there were about 15 people by the pool and every other 200 chairs had a towel on them. It made it tough on us who choose to follow the rules. The Compus was dutifully delivered to our room each night and I would lay in bed with a highlighter pen marking the things that I really wanted to do the next day. The girls did the same with their respective teen activities. By the third day, I was tired of watching the clock to make sure I didn't miss a class that I'd decided to take, so I stopped planning so much. I was, after all, on vacation. Let me just tell you that Bingo is outrageously expensive. For $35 you get six cards to play five games. To get a three-card pack will cost you $25. The fifth game each day was the "jack pot" game. To get the jackpot, you needed to cover your entire card within the allotted amount of numbers called. In short, it was nearly impossible to win this jackpot until the last day of Bingo. Some lucky lady won over $9000 on our ship, but the odds were not good seeing as probably 300 people were playing. In total, I spent $120 playing Bingo and I can think of many things that I'd rather spend that money on now! Cozumel I had taken the advise of some well intending poster on a discussion board and planned our Cozumel excursion independent of the cruise line. In this instance, it worked out okay. All those taking our Clear Kayak and Snorkeling tour were gathered in an area on the dock in Cozumel and taken by taxi to the reef, which was part of the nature preserve. Our group instructor, Oscar, was funny as he taught us all how to snorkel and use our kayaks. We kayaked first over some beautiful coral reefs but didn't see many fish. The sun was hot though and the day clear, so we all enjoyed the experience as Oscar pointed out underwater caves and sea urchins. Next, we donned our snorkeling gear and made our way into the ocean. The current was very strong and my husband had to assist our youngest so he wore himself out quickly. Our oldest daughter, much to our surprise, took to the fins quickly and was constantly at the front of the group right behind Oscar. The snorkeling was wonderful as we saw an abundance of colorful fish and coral. After the snorkeling, each visitor was allowed two free drinks from the cabana. My husband decided on Margaritas and both girls got virgin daiquiris. It was later when we realized that waiter had left out the "virgin" part of my oldest daughter's drink. After she lapsed into a fit of the giggles and saying "I thought it tasted a little funny," we figured it out. She didn't mind, of course, and there was nothing we could do about it at that point, so we just gave her the "drinking before you are 21 lecture" and went on from there. On the return trip to the pier, we paid our taxi driver an extra $6 to take us to the far end of the shopping area, where we knew we would find Ponchos Backyard. This quaint authentic Mexican restaurant served one of our favorite lunches of the trip. My husband's mahi mahi burritos were out of this world. It was well worth the trip and we would go there again should we ever be in Cozumel. After lunch, we did a little shopping. I had seen several pieces of Tanzanite jewelry on the ship and fell in love with the beautiful deep purple color. Thanks to our shopping guide, Tito, and the shopping class that I took on the ship, I knew that Tanzanite came from Tanzania, Africa and there is only one mine existing that producing this gem. Since it's endangered, buying a piece of Tanzanite is a real investment. I had received several coupons from this shopping class and spotted a 1 carat pair of Tanzanite stud earrings from Diamonds International. My husband, the wonderful man that he is, dickered with the sales lady and purchased the earrings for me. We paid $190 for the pair and felt that we made a wise purchase. During lunch, my husband looked at his watch and told us it was 1:30. We didn't have to be to the boat until 3:30, so we thought we were doing fine on time. After we bought the earrings, I asked him again what time it was and again he said it was 1:30. We realized that he had pushed the alarm button and it was actually 3:30 and we were 3 miles from the ship! We tipped the taxi drive to step on it and we arrived back at the pier in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, the ship was quite a ways from where the taxi let us off so we ran the rest of the way. I was very relieved to find a long line waiting to board the Grandeur. We were 20 minutes late and I was already trying to figure out how we were going to get to Grand Cayman! Grand Cayman Before our cruise, we sat down as a family and voted on the excursion that we would take in Grand Cayman. My choice was to go swimming with the Rays in Sting Ray City, but alas, I was outvoted by the more adventuresome members of my family. They decided on the Jungle Runner Snorkel Tour. In this excursion, two-man boats were taken through the mangrove jungle and across the bay to a floating snorkeling platform where beautiful snorkeling would then be found! Let me tell you what really happened! We tendered into Georgetown, Grand Cayman as our designated time of 9:45 AM. Our tour was to begin at 11:15 AM and last 2 ½ hours. I had to admit, I was excited about the Mangroves and took my new digital camera in preparation of seeing multi-colored birds and hopefully other types of wildlife. There are two pier in Georgetown that the ships use to tender. We were taken to the East pier where we were held in a small group until our tour operator guide could meet us. We were told that he was at the other pier gathering his guests. At around 11:00 he finally made his way to our location and told us that the bus was full from the other pier and that we would have to wait until it returned in about 30 to 45 minutes. As no one else seemed to think this was a problem, I spoke up and expressed my displeasure that we were wasting our limited time on the island. He told us to shop at the nearby stores and return in 30 minutes. We walked across the street and did have time to purchase a few mementos, but hurried back to our meeting area. Our guide returned to tell us that we had to wait until the last group returned on the boats since they didn't have enough boats for all of us. In exchange for our wait, we were going to be taken to the Run Cake Factory of a tour. One couple asked for their money back and promptly left the tour, but the four of us, plus two other couples stayed. We told him that we were not interested in the Rum Cake Factory tour and were finally boarded onto a bus and taken to our excursion site. One of the other couples for from another RCI ship (I think it was the Splendor) that left GC at 3:30. The last tender for the Grandeur was at 4:45. We felt that we had plenty of time to a little bit of shopping before the tendered out to the ship. Once we arrived at the excursion location called Rum Pointe, we received our snorkeling gear and declined instruction since we had just learned the day before. We were then asked to sign a document that stated that we would pay $500 in the event that we tipped our little boat over and that we would obey the rules. I made sure that my oldest daughter understood what she was signing as she would be driving the boat that we shared. We were then taken to our cute little two-man boats and helped aboard. The short story to this adventure is that our boats were unfortunately in poor working condition and through a series of break-downs and a trip to the marina for oil, we never made it to the mangroves. We only had 20 minutes to snorkel in murky, unremarkable waters. In an attempt to make up some lost time, we were taken over bone-jarring three foot waves in the middle of the Bay. The couple from the Splendor had left two young children on the ship and at 4:30 PM, we weren't sure if they had held the ship for them or not since they were an hour late for the last tender. Eventually we did discover that they had held the ship since they had booked the excursion through RCI. We had no time for shopping but did make our last tender. Still, we made the best of our excursion and tried not to stress too much over what hadn't happened and were just thankful that we were together to experience this new adventure. It will be one of those things that we look back on and probably remember most about our cruise. My daughter was in heaven driving the boat (when it worked) and at one point screamed at the top of her voice, "this is the best day of my life!" Let me tell you, it doesn't get better than that for a parent. Costa Maya We decided not to plan an excursion for this new port. Our other two ports of call had been full of exercise and clock-watching and we wanted a time to rest without worrying about missing the ship. Although we couldn't find a great deal of information about Costa Maya, we were really surprised by what we found. Costa Maya itself is a little village that has sprung up in an attempt to compete with the shopping trade of its Cozumel and Cancun neighbors. A market is situated in the middle of the town square where local crafts can be purchased such as Mexican blankets, pottery and vanilla. On the outer edge of the square, more reputable merchants can be found such as the ever present Diamonds International. I found haggling a fun experience. I bought two marble chess sets for my sons for $25 each when they originally asked for $125 each. The prices are very high, so if you feel timid about haggling over the price, you might want to stay away from the market. We paid $3 each to take a taxi into the village of Majahaul (pronounced ma ha wall), and authentic little fishing village. Dirt streets and more local merchants hawking their wares and a few make-shift lean tos that served as bars on the beach was about all that we found here. Some may have liked this atmosphere, but it only served to remind us how truly lucky we are to live where we do. I couldn't have missed this part of the trip without any regrets. Back in Costa Maya, we bought an over priced lunch ($78 for four of us eating tacos and chips), my husband and daughters had fun swimming in the salt water pool. Our ship was originally scheduled to depart Costa Maya at 1:00 AM but we were told this day that we needed to be on board by 6:00 for a 7:00 departure. This was fine with us since we didn't want to miss our 6:00 dinner on board, less we miss our favorite waiter. We found out later that we left early to miss a bad storm and were happy that we did. That night the seas were a little high, but snug in our little cabin's twin beds, we didn't notice a thing and slept like babies. Two Days At Sea Thursday and Friday were spent at sea relaxing and building on our suntans. We had purchased several photos so far and it was fun to see the progression of our tanned skin. By the second formal night (Thursday) the girls looked like tanned beauties despite the use of SPF 50 all week. I entered the Slot Machine Tournament and had a ton of fun even though I didn't make it out of the first round. It was $20 well spent. We watched the Travis Knight magic show and it was wonderful. We didn't see any of the other music and dancing shows in the Palladium Theatre. That's just not us. Others said it was fantastic and I'm sure it was. Our cruise director, Tom Canosa, and staff were all great. They really worked hard all week! The Love and Marriage game was hysterical! Like every other evening during the cruise, my husband and I spend an hour or so in the casino after dinner while the girls participated in planned activities with their new friends. The slots were good to me at first and became increasingly fickle as the trip went on. My husband consistently came out ahead in Blackjack. It was a good thing that he was able to support my gambling habit or we would have come back entirely broke. Tip Night To add your tips to you Sea Pass card or not? We debated about this for days. It is more personal to hand them an envelope with cash than it is to hand them an envelope with vouchers in it that say you tipped the recommended amount. In the end, we did both. We added the four vouchers to each envelope as well as extra cash for jobs well done! It was a bittersweet night as we said our good-byes to our new tablemate friends, Yogi, Miothan and Tony. We had brought a few bottles of wine with us from our favorite winery in Michigan. Yogi seemed to think that Napa Valley was the only wineries that grew grapes worthy of great wine, so he found our little Michigan wines a novelty. On this last night we presented him with a bottle of Demi Red along with his tip envelope and have his picture to remember the honored look on his face. The girls actually cried when we left the dining room after saying good bye and getting pictures with everyone. It gave my husband and I a warm feeling to know that we had given them something so special that they would always remember. Conclusion We've been home for two days and the memories are still very real and fresh. Going back to work and school has been difficult as we only wish that we were back on the Grandeur. Today, we would be in Grand Cayman, tomorrow, Costa Maya. The only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that we need to work in order to save up to do it again! It ended up being an expensive vacation, but one that we will never regret. In conclusion, I'd like to address a few falsehoods that have been portrayed on several of the cruise discussion boards for all of those first-time cruisers out there. Maybe after 20 cruises, we will also become a little jaded to the cruise industry, but right now I think it's important to set the record straight as not to cause "newbies" any concern. The Quality of the Food Our ship was full to capacity which means that over 6500 meals were served each day. In the Windjammer, we found buffet style food which is designed to feed the masses in an efficient way. It isn't gourmet food and not intended to be. It's good, satisfying food of every possible type that you can think of; soup, salad, fresh fruit, hot entrees and lots of desserts. The dining room served very good to excellent food. Their appetizers were extremely tasty. Most nights I ordered two appetizers, one in place of a salad, for fear of missing something extraordinary. All the soups were very good. The entrees were always well prepared and tastefully displayed. Yes, the Ranch Steak is tough. I knew it would be so I didn't order it but my daughter did several times. It was not thin as many of the boards claim, but about 1" thick. She didn't complain and believe me, she's the pickiest eater that you will ever find. If your waiter thinks you are unhappy with a selection, he'll offer to bring you something different. Take him up on it! The Service I met a lady by the pool one day and we she told me that she was on her 25 cruise. I asked what her favorite cruise line was as she said that she tried them all. She said that she liked RCI best because they offered the best service. After just one cruise, I'm forced to agree with her. Besides a rude female server at one breakfast in the dining room that rolled her eyes every time we asked her for something, the service was first-rate all the way. You can really appreciate that when you think that these people don't get a day off for six months. My kudos to RCI for their efforts in this area and this is what will keep us coming back. All the Extra Fees Your vacation will be as expensive as you want it to be. If you stay away from the Spa and Casino, you will save a ton. You can have a wonderful time sticking to the "inclusive" items like meals, entertainment and going on shore excursion at your leisure. If you accept this going into your vacation you won't be disappointed. You can go to Guest Services at any time to get a total of your charges so far. We set a budget for each of the girls as far as beverages and Internet usage. Neither of them exceeded their budget. Smuggling Alcohol As I said before, we did take several bottles of wine and did pay a $12 corkage fee to have them with dinner. The least expensive wine on the wine list was over $20, so we felt we came out ahead. Besides, we have certain wines that we like. This is perfectly acceptable by RCI and there is no need to "smuggle" wine. Just pack it and take it! Other alcohol is another story. There are signs posted that drinking your own alcohol in any public place is prohibited. There are no longer drink packages to purchase, so your other option is to buy your drinks from the bar or to smuggle it aboard. I have to confess that we took a zip lock baggie filled with travel-sized assorted alcohol. My husband used Sprites from our cabin to make himself a little cocktail before dinner. He also bought at least one cocktail at every dinner. I'm not sure that we would take our own again. I felt guilty all week that we shouldn't have done it and in the end, he had a large liquor tab anyways. Just set a budget and if you can't afford to drink it, don't. If you can, just enjoy. You're on vacation. Booking Excursions Through the Cruise Line I hope that you can see from our experiences on Cozumel and Grand Cayman that it is always best to book your cruise through the cruise line (and they're not paying me to say that). I figure that we spend a total of $40 more to book through RCI our little Jungle(but there was no jungle) Runner (didn't work most of the time) excursion. It would have cost us over $1000 to fly to Costa Maya to meet the ship had we missed it. Besides, RCI took care of us on that whole ordeal. You're not only paying for the excursion, you're paying from the customer service as well. And finally to Royal Caribbean International, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the vacation of a lifetime. You will definitely see us again very soon. We're already planning a cruise next winter to include both of our sons. I think we'll need a suite! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We love to cruise and this one was especially nice as we were taking my mother-in-law to celebrate her 80th birthday and went all out and stayed in a suite cabin. Very nice indeed! I won't see that again probably, but that's ... Read More
We love to cruise and this one was especially nice as we were taking my mother-in-law to celebrate her 80th birthday and went all out and stayed in a suite cabin. Very nice indeed! I won't see that again probably, but that's okay...I just love to cruise! Boarding went smoothly. Got to the terminal around 10:40am. Should have started through the process around 11am but the computers were down so we they got going around 11:15am. The cabin was ready when we got on board. Checked it out and met our room steward, Vincente, which did a wonderful job all week and very quick! Went to lunch in the Windjammer (buffet style - good selection). Luggage was brought to the room around 1:00. Unpacked, unpacked, and unpacked! Was raining when we went down the Mississippi River so we didn't see much. Thanks Mother Nature! First day at sea was nice, overcast but warm. Laid on the deck in a lounge chair rather than to go up on the pool deck and search for a chair! Usually all are taken as on all cruises by 6am by the chair hogs! (they save 6 or more chairs in the wee hours and don't appear till noon or so) Hit a storm or two out at sea which made it a little rocky at times! but it was nice sleeping (like being in your mothers arms again in a rocking chair). I get car sickness, so I don't take the chance of getting sea sick and take dramamine every day! Did the patch first cruise I went on and the patch ended up in my hair halfway thru the day, plus people can't label you "one of those patch people"!! Tendering went smoothly in Belize. They give you a number according to your excursion time, that way if you have an early excursion, you are one of the first off the ship! Saves fighting the lines. Worked well, I thought. Two of our excursions (Costa Maya and Cozumel) were cancelled which was disappointing to my daughter (and me). Snorkeling off a boat in Costa Maya was cancelled due to an over abundance of jelly fish and the current was not safe. Was grateful to the tour guides honesty, could have taken the money and not cared for our safety like I'm sure some places would have done! Next day in Cozumel we were to scuba dive and the current again was unsafe and ALL water sports were cancelled. However, later that day the water sports started up again but it was too late for us to do any of them cause we were leaving at 5:00pm. Can't depend on the weather....good ole Mother Nature! All our excursions were booked via the ship before we left home....I highly recommend booking online before the cruise! Full refunds were given to on board weekly account. I felt the dining room experience was superb! Sudeep (waiter) Kristina (assistant waiter) Maksood (bartender/waiter) and the headwaiter of which I didn't get his name were all wonderful and attentive to our every whim. All the entrees, appetizers, desserts that I had were tasty and had great presentation! The burgers and fries at the Solarium pool were great too! Entertainment on board was good and bingo (if anyone likes to play) had a final jackpot on the last day at sea) of $8,000.00 which was won by one person....lucky lady!! Casino was a nice size and never seemed over crowded. Some of the machines were hit on, not by me of course!! :( I will say....the other review comments on the foul order near the casino is true. I noticed this about 3 days into the cruise, it was tolerable though. Also, there was a problem with the toilets throughout the ship not flushing at times. However, if people would follow the rules they most likely have for their OWN homes (DON'T FLUSH FOREIGN OBJECTS DOWN THE TOILET) this would eliminate the problem. It's a shame when the Captain of the ship has to make an announcement on this matter. We all have a brain and/or common sense! All in all......the ship is beautiful, clean, nice size and was not overcrowded. I would cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas again in a heartbeat and I'm sure my mother-in-law has some great memories as do we! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The ship was magnificent! Overall staff was very friendly, helpful and nice. Our cabin steward was not on top of things though. The first 2 days she did not turn down our beds or leave us the chocolates. One evening she did not clean our ... Read More
The ship was magnificent! Overall staff was very friendly, helpful and nice. Our cabin steward was not on top of things though. The first 2 days she did not turn down our beds or leave us the chocolates. One evening she did not clean our room or give us new towels. Then she straightened up as was pretty good the rest of the cruise. Food selection was okay not great. I've been on other RCCL cruises and I think the food is not as elegant or good. The activities were fantastic. Shore excursions were good but I felt there could have been more offered for those who don't want to go the beach, shop or do extreme sports. We stopped at Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya. The ruins of Costa Maya, Chachoban, were really great! I enjoy old ruins and thought they were a nice contrast to the openness of Tulum which is on the ocean. These were in the jungle area and quite different. The ruins at San Gervasio on Cozumel were also quite picturesque. We did the Island tour and StingRay City semi-submersible. It was very interesting. The Quest game was lots of fun, maybe because our team of 8 won first place! We will cherish our medals forever!!! My husband loved the fact that the Coasters were the main entertainers. He was in 50's heaven. Claire the Loyalty Ambassador was very helpful as we planned our next cruise in 2005. I would definitely go on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
This cruise was a gift to my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday and we wanted it to be full of great memories so we went first class all the way by booking a suite, which I will probably never get the chance to do again!! It was ... Read More
This cruise was a gift to my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday and we wanted it to be full of great memories so we went first class all the way by booking a suite, which I will probably never get the chance to do again!! It was great....really great! Our room steward (Vincente) was wonderful and kept the room very clean. The first day he came and introduced himself and asked if there was any certain demands we would like for the week. We asked for extra towels and he made sure to supply them both morning and evening when he made up or room. The embarkment went smoothly. We arrived at the dock around 10:40am and the registration should have started around 11am but there was a problem with the computers so they started loading us around 11:20 or so. It went fairly quick and our room was ready when we got on ship. Our luggage was delivered around 1:00pm. The dining room service we had was especially nice. Sudeep (waiter) and Kristina (asst. waiter) were exceptional!!! Very attentive and friendly. Even the head waiter (his name I never got) was amazing. Usually, at least in my experience, you never see the head waiter till the last night for the envelopes with the tips!! Not this one, he came by our table EVERY night and even helped cut a steak for my daughter and deshelled my shrimp scampi! How's that for service?!! He asked about our days activities and everything. Even the bar/waiter (Maksood) was great. Brought my husbands "bud" every night without asking, poured them and had the refills there before he even turned to ask for another! The windjammer had a great choice of food and plenty of it. The scrambled eggs were a little runny for me but the fruit and danish and all were good. The weather was somewhat rough the first two nights (hit some storms) and some of our excursions were cancelled due to the current and an abundance of jelly fish but that's not the ship's fault. You can't control mother nature!! The time at ports were sunny and in the high 80's, better than in the 40's back home in Pennsylvania!! Entertainment was good on board (what we saw) and the bingo had a jackpot of $8000 the last day which was won by ONE very lucky women!! All in all, we were very satisfied with the ship and our journey was very much enjoyed by all. My daughter (16) didn't attend the kids stuff so I can't comment on their activities. I will say, as stated in some other reviews....there is an odor by the casino which I noticed around the third day or so. It's tolerable though! Speaking of the casino....didn't hit any big jackpots but some people were lucky from the way they were screaming!! The toilets throughout the ship had trouble flushing some times. The captain had to do an announcement to ask people not to flush any foreign objects down them.....what's wrong with people? Do they flush diapers, tampons, plastic utensils, etc down their toilets at home? daaaaa That's about it.....fond memories. Can't wait till I can cruise again....I'm bitten by the bug.....I would do the Grandeur again, it's a nice size ship! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
April is the time to cruise the Caribbean. Embarkation on Sat. at 11:30am to our room to drop off carry on luggage was 45 min. Excellent. Just roaming the ship on Sat. restaurants are open so you can eat. First day and all activities ... Read More
April is the time to cruise the Caribbean. Embarkation on Sat. at 11:30am to our room to drop off carry on luggage was 45 min. Excellent. Just roaming the ship on Sat. restaurants are open so you can eat. First day and all activities and mandatory meetings went well. Everything is spotlessly clean. Sun. at sea just lounging and the calypso band (Flare) by the pool was good. Also, music by in the Atrium most of the day. This was piano and violin. Very good. On sea days all food was easy to get to. No waiting in a variety of food stops on board. While at sea and if you want it noisy and jamming go to the pool decks. Sometimes we went to the back of deck 5, sat in lounge chairs and just enjoyed the total quiet. The only people on this deck are the walkers. This deck wraps around the entire ship but few people go here so, enjoy. And you can stand at the back of deck five and look up to deck 11 as people torture themselves on the rock climbing wall!Boogaly! Woogaly! Mon. spent the day in Cozumel. Took a taxi to Dzul-Ha. This is a local hangout with a little bar and grill, a nice deck hanging over the water. One step and your are snorkeling in you own aquarium. Total cost $21.00 2-way taxi. Then back to town for a little jewelry shopping. Tue. Grand Cayman. Tender boat was quick and easy even with so many people. Stingray City was canceled as all snorkeling due to winds. So we found an English Bakery, sat with the locals, ate pastries, drank coffee and had to fight somme baby chickens. They wanted pastries too. We walked down to Eden's Rock for some serious snorkeling. From here they will take you scuba diving from shore or you can pay for your locker and just go snorkeling off their pier. Instant aquarium, nothing like it. Then to a local restaurant for some local food. This place is clean enough you can eat any food and drink the water. Wed. Costa Maya. this is true culture shock! I truly enjoyed this place. Talk about barren. Someone built a pier in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful water and great snorkeling anywhere. Be sure to walk to Maharuel the town a few miles south. No need for the taxi. The beach road is sand and primitive. On the east side you have the surf crashing and on the west side you have jungle and very noisy tropical birds. A fantastic walk and many Kodak (digital) moments. thu. and Fri. at sea. The ship is big enough that you can be in the crowd or you can be totally alone, yes even with 2,000 people. There are many place to be on board. the library, atrium, observation deck (deck 5!) Sat. Back home for another culture shock. I have to wait on myself, cook my own food and make my own towel animals. First time cruisers might want to use the ship's shore excursions. But everywhere this cruise goes is a safe place so you can explore on your own. The cruise, food, activities, cabin, entertainment, staff get a thumbs up! Good value. I'm ready to go again. If I can help anyone please feel free to e-mail us. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
GRANDEUR AIN'T GRAND We just got back from a cruise on the Grandeur, and we were disappointed. This was our 14th cruise on 12 different ships and this takes the place as the worst. If we never took a cruise before it would have left ... Read More
GRANDEUR AIN'T GRAND We just got back from a cruise on the Grandeur, and we were disappointed. This was our 14th cruise on 12 different ships and this takes the place as the worst. If we never took a cruise before it would have left a better taste in our mouths, but there were numerous problems that when you compare them with other ships, they stand out. The main problem that we had was the staff and their dedication to service. There were some people who were extremely nice and helpful, including our waiter and Head waiter, but that was about as fair as it went. The assistant waiter was a psycho who was more interested in gabbing with the other passengers. We constantly had to ask for ice tea, or a straw or lemon or bread. At first we thought they were under-staffed, but we noticed all of the other tables were getting the usual service. The other staff members were busy, while ours was providing us with world views and criticism of other passenger nationality issues. The head waiter and our waiter noticed us with empty water glasses and other short comings and had to pick up the slack. On every other cruise, we had our ice tea on the tables before entering the dining room, just like we wanted it with a straw and lemon. The other service in the Windjammer was worst. We asked for cream cheese one day and the person standing nearby told me they didn't have any more. Another member who overheard me, went in the back and got it for me. My wife noticed there wasn't any chocolate donuts out, and asked and got a response, "check the other side". This was never the treatment we experiences before on RCCL or other cruiselines. The staff always made you feel like you were the owners of the ship. One night we went to Windjammer for dinner at 8:40 and at 9pm they started busting up a marble counter on one side of the room with a masonry saw. The air in half the room was filled with a cloud of dust not to mention this shrill sound of the saw. At 9:10 I walked over to the dessert station, and they removed all of the desserts. The dining room manager was standing right in front of the area and didn't ask me if he can get us anything. We asked the port and shopping person who was on duty, where we can go to in Aruba to lay on the beach at a hotel, by paying a day fee. She barely knew her name. She was absolutely no help at all. Our fellow cruise critic passengers knew much more information. This type of service was typical. As for the food, the Windjammer food was like a typical cafeteria. Some stuff day after day with a slight variation. The food in the dining room was better, but not by much. The used to have a strip steak every night for those that didn't like the selection. Now they have something referred to as a ranch steak which doesn't taste so good. In the Solarium, I walked in one morning and slipped and fell on the floor. Two women sitting there, mentioned that someone spilled coffee over an hour earlier and the staff who handed out towels walked past there and didn't clean it up or put a wet floor sign there. The floors when wet from people by the pool sometimes had signs, but this didn't. The smells of sewage that were mentioned in previous critic reviews were noticeable in our cabin and the hallway and elevator area (Deck three). When we mentioned it to the cabin steward, we got a "what smell?". We asked for an air freshener and he sprayed the cabin, that masked the smell for a short time. The room was nice and it didn't show much wear as other people have mentioned. We had a nice time, just being away, the people in the cruise critic group were great and always love cruising. We were on the Serenade in December, and it was much much nicer than the Grandeur. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2004
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS MAY THE 1ST 2004 Well let me start by saying that I have been on 6 other cruises Carnival Celebrity ncl & Rcl lines. ALSO my wife & I are both 38 yrs old & we traveled with friends 2 people to a cabin. ... Read More
GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS MAY THE 1ST 2004 Well let me start by saying that I have been on 6 other cruises Carnival Celebrity ncl & Rcl lines. ALSO my wife & I are both 38 yrs old & we traveled with friends 2 people to a cabin. The ages of the people on the ship were varied with a lot of people our age! Embarking was the fastest I've seen! We got a Limo at the airport although the 1 we booked wasn't there! We got 1 for $40 for 4 people booze included its cheaper than the bus thing! We waited for 5 min online & boarded in another 10. Public rooms : The ship was in great shape! I was worried because I read some very bad reviews. Besides the SS norway It was the nicest ship Ive been on! Pool & solarium was great! chairs plentiful by the pool sometimes we stood for 5 min by the solarium. but didn't have a problem! The Dining rooms were very nice even though we were seated by the door.The theater was very nice & spacious! the seats very comfortable! The village people were there even though we missed them. Also the bars' decor was Elegant & the Disco the nicest I've seen on a ship! CABINS: Another thing I was worried about as the Sq. feet listed was the smallest I've seen BUT the way it was arranged was the best I've seen! we were very comfortable there our cabin was close to the champagne bar which was a great location also I had a soda pass all I had to do was walk like 15 feet to the bar for sodas in the room. I recommend the soda pass & getting a cabin next to the bar! I didn't think about this when I booked my cruise but I lucked into it! The only shore excursion I did was the Fiesta party boat in Cox Mexico! It was FANTASTIC! I will do it 2-3 more times as I am a cruise addict & will be there again I am sure! Dining was excellent! Again I heard so-so reviews about this & I was wondering what they were talking about! The only ship line that I was on that was better was Celebrity & It was a close 2nd. The shrimp in the cocktails were small my only complaint! I had escargot on special order almost every night & My wife & I asked our waiter to see the following night menu every night If we didn't see anything that grabbed us we would just order something special that wasn't on the menu! They always accommodated us! The entertainment was good although we were too pooped to go to a lot of shows! The value for price was excellent!!!! I cannot stress this enough!! I booked online and got a lg inside for 2 for $500.00 per person & booked my own air! $500 was a lot cheaper than any other cruise I've been on & the cruise was 9 nights instead of 7!as we were repositioning to Baltimore I live in NYC & I know that it is safer to book through the cruise line but what I did was find out what airline flight the ship would have booked me on & booked it myself! Knowing that if the flight was late the ship would wait for the other passengers which on the way home I noticed a lot of them. I would recommend booking through an online agency as I found that the prices are a lot cheaper as these agencies buy cabins in blocks of 100 or so at a much lower rate & sell them at a profit. RCL wanted $900 for the same cruise & cabin. I would & I am going to go on this ship again. I was so pleased with everything this was my favorite ship even though the SS Norway was a little nicer the service was better on THE GRANDEUR the pools Bigger The soda pass is unique. I would have rated the Norway as a 5 The Carnival Destiny as a 4 the Ncl sun a 4 the celebrity Zenith a 3 just to name a few for all you cruise addicts out there who might have been on other ships. Now RCL is my favorite cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
We had booked this cruise 9 months out and booked a large balcony stateroom. 2 adults, 2 kids aged 2 and 4. The check-in in New Orleans was smooth. Nice women checking us in. On the ship and in our room within 30 minutes. Our attendant was ... Read More
We had booked this cruise 9 months out and booked a large balcony stateroom. 2 adults, 2 kids aged 2 and 4. The check-in in New Orleans was smooth. Nice women checking us in. On the ship and in our room within 30 minutes. Our attendant was William. Excellent service from him. Rooms always made up, towel animals for the kids and extra towels. Our waiter Alex was a true professional. It was just too bad that he did not have the best product to work with. First night's dinner was comparable to a low class supper buffet. I ordered the prime rib and might as well ordered an old shoe. Mediocre food at best the entire cruise. The Windjammer dinning area had the same food as the dining room and was usually better. The pizza may as well have been Tortino's. No sushi the entire cruise. Breakfast was same menu every day. 2 kinds of sausage, one supposedly turkey, I hesitate to guess what kind of animal the other type was. Bacon was hit or miss, either totally hard cooked or raw and stuck together. Scrambled eggs that were like soup. The dining room was hit or miss also. Lunch varied a little but it seemed like I was on an Asia food cruise, lots of curries and Indian dishes. Pasta actually was cooked al dente in the Windjammer. I ordered the linguini and clam sauce, came to me dried out and stuck together. Sent that back ordered the turkey dinner figured you can't mess that up, they did. Having 2 small children mac and cheese was normally a good bet, except on this cruise. Picture elbow macaroni with a slice of Kraft singles on top. The ship itself is in disrepair. The wood around the hot tubs was missing areas and was a safety hazard. The women's bathroom by the Windjammer was constantly overflowing. The wood in the pool had a screw sticking up and was loose. Carpet pulled up in the pools area. Ports, having been to Cozumel before went into town and than came back and laid around the pool. Caymans beautiful water as usual, Costa Maya what a joke. You get off the boat and are herded into an area that captures you. The stuff is all 20-40% higher than Cozumel. You can go to the "quaint fishing village." Really it is pure poverty with a small beach. If you like hungry dogs, plywood shacks, and dysteria go here!! The ship leaves late so if you plan on being outside after dark make sure you have your malaria shots, killer mosquitoes. Would I cruise this ship again? No way RCI. Maybe their newer ships. I expected more. past cruises Carnival Pride Celebrity, Horizon and Zenith Costa, and Princes lines numerous Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
For the most part, I was very happy with our Thanksgiving cruise. Getting on the ship was no problem. Finding parking in New Orleans, on the other hand, was horrible. Because of a game, conference and additional cruise leaving, it took us ... Read More
For the most part, I was very happy with our Thanksgiving cruise. Getting on the ship was no problem. Finding parking in New Orleans, on the other hand, was horrible. Because of a game, conference and additional cruise leaving, it took us about 1 hour to find a place to park. We finally found a garage that would take us. I would recommend leaving early if you are driving! We were very happy with our stateroom. It had a huge window and was actually bigger compared to the Carnival cruises in which I have sailed in the past. The shower was actually tall enough for me to wash my hair! Our room was always cleaned to perfection by our stateroom attendant, Jennifer. The second floor did often smell like sewage...that is my number one complaint. It was better towards the end of the week. The food on the ship was good, but not as great as Carnival. I liked that you could get steak every night but didn't like that shrimp cocktail was only offered once. I had a few dishes I liked, but stuck mostly to the steaks. The lunch buffet was very good, especially because I love curry. There was a different curry dish to try every day!! The snacks (burgers, hot dogs, fries, and pizza) came in handy when we missed lunch. The burgers taste much better than they look. The breakfast buffet was yummy but I was sick of it by the end. It would have been nice if they had switched some dishes. Breakfast was always the same. We did take advantage of the full breakfast room service on two occasions and were impressed. We went to Key West first and were not impressed. The beaches were rocky, the shopping was expensive, and there wasn't much else to do. From there we went to Cozumel and did the jeep and cavern tour. This was the best excursion I have ever been on!! I cannot say enough good things about that day. Our guide was great and swimming in the caves was unbelievable. From there, we went to a beautiful beach and had a delicious buffet that was included in the price. I had the best pineapple of my life that day!! We went to Costa Maya the following day but couldn't dock because of high waves. Our captain took us back to Cozumel which we were very excited about because we missed it due to the excursion. We actually stayed overnight there so we go to experience some of the nightlife. Shopping was fun and I am impressed with my bartering skills! The rest of the cruise was on the ship, which I did not find run down at all. It was beautiful and the staff was always nice and helpful. I have now been on RCI and Carnival and see pluses and minuses to both. I hope to try a new cruise line next!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
Grandeur of the Seas November 27-December 4, 2004 After 37 cruises, number 38 was my first sailing from New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans before, but never for a cruise departure. I think it is a great port city and if you are ... Read More
Grandeur of the Seas November 27-December 4, 2004 After 37 cruises, number 38 was my first sailing from New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans before, but never for a cruise departure. I think it is a great port city and if you are sailing from there you should consider either a pre or post package. Since we had been there before we opted to take a later flight on our return and purchased the ships' post shore excursion tour in New Orleans that ended at the airport. This was a great choice! We learned on the way in that a taxi from the airport to the pier is $28 plus tip for 2 people. The post tour cost $38 p/person and included a 2-hour tour that went around the city and to the cemetery and garden district. It also included 2½ hours of free time in the French Quarter before we had to be back on the bus to go to the airport. This gave us just enough time to go to Cafe Du Monde, Central Grocery, and do some shopping while not having to worry about our luggage. If you are interested in this tour it is for people with flights after 4:00 p.m. Check in at the pier in New Orleans was pretty busy when we arrived. Be sure if you are a Platinum or Diamond past passenger with Royal Caribbean to seek out the separate line for this level of past guests. In New Orleans it is all the way to the far right side. Also, if you are interested in seeking out a paid upgrade at the pier, the person to see is the Pier Coordinator (All the way to the left side in New Orleans). Most of the sailings from now until the end of year are not sold out so if you are interested in upgrading your cabin, you must check in first and then get in the line for the pier coordinator to see about upgrades. The cabins are very nice on this ship. There was plenty of storage. The bathrooms are small.....but that is not anything new. The balcony cabins have small refrigerators. The regular outside and inside cabins do not. The cabin has a small 13-inch television that showed ESPN, CNN, TBS, movies on 2 channels, the report from the bridge, the shore excursions talks, and my favorite: the view from the bridge channel with music. The cabin also has a safe. I was not crazy about the safe on this ship because instead of a combination they wanted you to slide your credit card strip to open and close it. The reason this is not great is because if your roommate does not have the same CC as you then you always have to be there to open and close the safe. There is no charge to use the safe. Food and dining on the ship: The more that I cruise, the more I see this area change. The cruise lines have wised up to the fact that people are looking for alternative choices and freedom in dining. Although I signed up for the second seating, I only went to the dining room for dinner twice (both on formal nights). As it turned out, 8:30 for dinner is very late and 6:00 p.m. is too early for me. So, we found ourselves wondering by the Windjammer buffet around 7 to 7:30 p.m. We quickly found out the menu in the Windjammer is almost the same as the dining room...soups and all; and you can try and take as much as you want. Also, the food was hotter getting it this way then in the dining room. There are waiters and waitresses in the buffet that bring water, coffee, desserts, and take away plates. There is even a carving station there every night. The only reason we went to the dining room on the second formal night is because they did not have the lobster in the Windjammer. They list both menus (the one for the dinner buffet and the one for the dinning room dinner) outside the Windjammer every afternoon so you can see the comparison and decide. We only had room service once for breakfast and it was quick and they got everything right. This ship does not have any paid alternative dinner restaurants. The only other food was the hamburgers and pizza available in the Solarium area; however, starting in the next few weeks they are unveiling a new Ben and Jerry's and Coffee house area that will have a charge, they were not ready yet on our sailing. Ports of call: We had great weather on our sailing and made all of the ports of call. The first port was Cozumel, then Grand Cayman and then Costa Maya. Cozumel is one of my favorite ports and I have there many times. It is the best of the shopping ports on this itinerary. The downtown has some construction going on right now, but all of the stores are open and happy to see you. Lunch at Poncho's Backyard was great as usual. Grand Cayman: It has been many years since I was last in this port. The shopping is very over priced and other than the rum cakes there is not much to buy. The 7-mile beach is nice. This is a tendering port. They call tender numbers for about the first 2 hours of the morning. If you are not in a hurry to get off, after a while they make an announcement that tender tickets are not required and you will not have to mess with tickets. I recommend finding a ship excursion that you are interested in so you will have something to do. Costa Maya: We kept referring to this as the Disneyland for cruise passengers...LOL. The ship docks here and after you walk down the pier you are in a purpose built area for cruise ship passengers. The area has 2 pools, beach chairs and umbrellas, stores and markets, an Internet cafe, and some restaurants. We did leave this area to go by taxi into the town of Majuhaul for $3 per person one way.....all I can suggest is to forget it....it is a one street town with very aggressive people trying to get you into their shops and a small beach area with bars. Next time I would just stay near the ship and enjoy that area. There seemed to be some biting flies or fleas around, so some bug spray might be a good idea too. The days at sea at the end are relaxing. We had great weather on the first day at sea and could lay in the sun and walk around the deck etc. The last day was windy and overcast as we approached the US. Take advantage of sun when you can because you never know what the weather will be. The ship offers some craft sessions, bingo, and cooking demos. The wine tasting was very well done and informative. It costs $9.95 but if you are a past passenger you will find a coupon for it in your booklet. The onboard Internet cafe is 50 cents a minute! It is not compatible with AOL so if you are on AOL, make sure that you have an alternative email that you can use if you want to send email. The Internet cafe in Cozumel was $3.00 for 15 minutes and in Costa Maya is was a better price too. Also, in Costa Maya at the Internet cafe they had phone service to call the US for $1.50 per minute. Since this is the last port before 2 days at sea, it is a good time to call home. But if you do, be sure you want a dose of reality in the middle of your cruise! LOL A word about tipping: Royal Caribbean does not add this to your bill automatically like Carnival and Princess. They offer you the chance charge your tips to your bill and receive vouchers to hand out. The problem with this is when you start eating in two different areas.... You are not told that the tips are pooled like on the other lines. So, if you tip in the dining room then the waiters in the buffet don't get tipped. When I went to the desk to ask if I could buy a voucher for just the cabin steward since I wanted to tip all of the different waiters that served us directly in the dining room and in the Windjammer, I was told that you could not separate out the cabin steward for a single voucher so I just ended up tipping everyone in cash. The tipping system seems like such a mess to me and I am sure some service people are losing money. Here is my list of things to be sure to bring on your cruise that can make it more enjoyable: Binoculars, 2 way walkie talkies, C D player with speakers and CDs, extra batteries, extension cord and chargers for anything that needs to be charged. Pillow from home, I also brought one of those small fleece blankets that you see advertised everywhere and fits a twin bed 50X60 or 70 I believe. I had read in a review that the blankets were scratchy and I loved having the fleece blanket on top of my bed to lay out on. It turned out that the blanket that they used in between the sheets is scratchy and we asked him to replace it with a velux one and he did, but I was still glad to have my own pillow and blanket. (P.S. We left the blankets on board and gave them to the cabin steward at the end of the week.) Also, a travel clock, an air freshener or matches for the bathroom, a water bottle from home to fill up with ice tea or water from the buffet, and a night light or flashlight is good for seeing in the room at night to find the bathroom. As far as clothes, be sure that you are prepared for any kind of weather. Have a jacket or rain poncho or umbrella for rain, a sweater for cool air conditioning and windy weather, sunglasses and a hat for sun, gym shoes or closed toed shoes for walking or shore excursions, and be sure bring water shoes for the beaches or snorkeling tours. (You can get them at Wal-Mart for a lot less than buying them on the ship or in port.) Also, be sure to have a bag to take into port with you to carry everything you will need to bring. I am sure there a lot of other things I am not thinking of but this list should be a good start! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email. C2Cmarci@yahoo.com Wishing you smooth seas. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
Grandeur - A Great Family Vacation My husband and I sailed on the Grandeur with our 9-year old son out of New Orleans. We've been on 6 other cruises and this was our third with our son. Our main goal on this vacation was R&R and ... Read More
Grandeur - A Great Family Vacation My husband and I sailed on the Grandeur with our 9-year old son out of New Orleans. We've been on 6 other cruises and this was our third with our son. Our main goal on this vacation was R&R and for our son to celebrate his 9th birthday. We were not as concerned about the ports and the luxury of the ship as we simply wanted to chill out after a very busy year. Sailing out of New Orleans was a real pleasure. Embarkation and debarkation took less than 10 minutes. Port staff was very helpful and friendly (very different from our FL and PR sailings). We were concerned about the parking situation in New Orleans as we had read about the construction in the area and the limited space available. One of the message boards recommended parking at a local tour operator's site and we found this was a great recommendation. Parking was the same cost as portside ($12 per day) but we were in a secured lot and the staff at Michuu Pichuu dropped us off right at the door and picked us up as we requested- a very friendly and professional team. We look forward to taking other cruises out of New Orleans. We had been on the Adventure of the Seas on a previous vacation and knew this ship would not have the same "wow" factor as the bigger ship. Wow factor aside, The Grandeur was immaculate and very attractive- particularly the Great Gatsby Dining Room and the Palladium Theatre. We booked an inside stateroom with an upper berth for our son and were very comfortable. The cabin was slightly smaller than on the Adventure of the Seas or on the Celebrity Century but it did the trick for us as all we do is sleep, shower and change in our room. The first night was a bit chilly on deck (I forgot to pack a jacket for my son) but we were still able to enjoy the hot tub which has become a family ritual with us before retiring. The first day at sea welcomed bright sunshine and warm temperatures- perfect for sunbathing. Our son enrolled in the Adventure Ocean program and could not wait to go each day. With some time to ourselves my husband and I explored the ship and spent some time in the sun complete with Pina Coladas in hand.... heaven. Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer was adequate. The salad bar is good along with the hot items provided lots of choices. By the end of the cruise we were pretty overdosed with Windjammer food and took to eating breakfast and lunch in the main dining room. If you're not in your bathing suit the dining room food quality is much higher and the service more relaxing. Service in the Windjammer was nearly non-existent with service personnel merely busing tables. On previous cruises the waiters often carried your tray, found you a clean table and brought drinks- not so on this cruise. You pretty much had to fend for yourself. Alternative dining choices on this cruise were much more limited than on other cruises we've taken. Late afternoons and late evenings there was always pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers in the Solarium pool area but little else. They have an ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) and coffee shop on the Promenade deck but it was not open on our sailing which was a bit disappointing. Day 2 - First port was Key West which was substituted for Grand Cayman which was decimated with the hurricanes of the past summer. We largely booked this cruise because of the destinations of Grand Cayman and Cozumel and were disappointed we couldn't swim with the stingrays. After speaking with others on board, RCI did us a favor as there is really nothing to do in Grand Cayman until they rebuild. Key West is not my favorite port as there is no beach and snorkeling is not desirable due to poor visibility. Since it was my son's birthday he picked the Aquarium and Shipwreck Museum which were actually better than I expected. We did not book these through the ship as we would have paid at least another $10 per person. The Aquarium is the oldest "attraction" in Key West and was surprisingly good. We had a very informative tour and my son was enthralled with the touch tank. The Shipwreck Museum across the street was hokey but fun for a 9-year old. We did a bit of shopping and hopped back on board for a nice afternoon swim. Day 3- Cozumel. We love Cozumel for the three S's- Swimming, Sightseeing and Shopping! We rented a convertible Beetle portside ($30 for the day through Executive) and headed to our favorite beach -San Francisco Beach which is a short 10-minute ride from the pier. There's a beautiful beach with clean changing rooms, water trampoline and water rock wall - all free. We rented two chaises and umbrella for $5 which was well worth it. We also like Mr. Sanchez Beach which is on the same route but San Francisco beach has better snorkeling and there is a reef on the right side of it. My son enjoyed the water trampoline and the rock wall (he finally made it to the top) and had a great time snorkeling in the swimming area. San Francisco Beach also has a lovely pool, jet ski rental, banana boat rides and parasailing. We had lunch in the restaurant (just so-so but fit the bill) and left in late afternoon for a drive around the island and a quick shopping trip. In contrast to the soft beaches and shallow waves, the northeastern part of the island has rocky coastlines and crashing waves. The coastline is spectacular and you can drive for miles without seeing anyone or anything but nature.... As you come back into town the interior of the island is desert and very desolate - you soon reach town and we completed the requisite T-shirt shopping. We had a bit of trouble finding the rental car return portside but finally found the correct entrance and dropped the car with 30 minutes to spare for some portside shopping which was also quite good. Back on board, we missed our early seating at dinner so grabbed dinner in the Windjammer. Evening entertainment was OK. The comedian, magician and juggler were all quite good. The production shows were not as good as we had seen on previous ships but it's free entertainment. Day 4 - Costa Maya. I had read conflicting accounts of Costa Maya- some travelers hate it - some love it. I put it somewhere in the middle. When you dock it has that perfect post card quality. Deep blue water, white sand and a small grove of palm trees are the perfect welcome. When you exit from your ship you have a short walk to the shopping complex (free trams are available) and you are smack in the middle of Caribbean Disneyland. If you think of this as a resort you'll be OK don't think of it as a real town- it isn't. We had three ships in port at the same time and the design of the portside resort requires everyone to pass through a 4-foot entrance which made for major crowding. The shops are new, clean and bright and have the typical souvenirs - nothing out of the ordinary - but bright and colorful. The centerpiece is a large tiled pool with fountains and there are beach chairs on the artificial beach within the shopping area of 30 - 40 shops. There is also a small beach at the side for sunning. It is bright and cheerful. I had enough of shopping after 20 minutes and we went back on ship for lunch and to get our snorkeling gear. We booked the snorkel tour through the ship -- $55 per person (we normally don't book with the ship). The tour included 53 passengers (it books up fast so don't wait too long) and we took an air conditioned bus to a small pier a few miles away from port to get on a fishing boat to take us out to the reef. On the bus ride we passed through some small neighborhoods- very poor. We walked down a long pier with large gaps (3-4 inches) between the boards past two abandoned and wrecked fishing boats. I got a sense of foreboding when walking the pier but was relieved to see our boat looked clean and in good working order. The staff was very pleasant and the ratio of staff to passengers was good 1-10. They offered us free water and soda and we took a 30-minute cruise out to the reef on pretty rough waters (4-5 foot waves). We had a short talk on safety and the equipment (our guide gave us tricks for putting on our fins and masks I had never heard before) and we were in the water. Each group of 10 or so people had one guide with a flag and we followed them out to some really great coral reefs with quite few beautiful fish. This was not the best snorkeling trip I've ever been on (I have been on about 10 other trips) but it was very good. Since the reefs are fragile the boat does not go near where you are snorkeling so there is a good bit of swimming. There is a small dingy that will pick you up and take you back to the boat if needed. It's pretty hard to get into the dingy so I planned to complete the entire 1.5 hour swim. About 1/2 our group got picked up midway but even my son made it to the end with some encouragement from us. If you have never snorkeled before I would not recommend this tour, but if you have some experience is it is good tour. The staff helped everyone back on the boat and with their equipment and after another round of soft drinks we were back on our way. When we got back to the pier we were informed that the bus was not available but that there would be cabs available at no change to pick everyone up. I thought this was pretty bogus but by the time we got off the pier a line of yellow taxis was heading our way so it was not a big deal although we were crammed 4 to a cab. The ride back was beachside so the scenery was better but the beach accommodations are pretty rustic as well. We got back on board and got ready for two blissful days at sea. Day 5 & 6 At Sea- We enjoyed movies, Bingo, towel and napkin folding demos as well as a cooking demo. We also spent a great deal of time at both the outside pool and the Solarium pool. The Solarium pool is partially enclosed so it is pleasant even on cool or windy days. The loungers are padded and there are two hot tubs. No kids are allowed in the Solarium area and there is very soft spa music playing which makes for perfect relaxation. The outdoor pool is fun with festive music so pick which appeals to you. My husband and I got exactly what we wanted out of the cruise - relaxation. My son had a blast with the Adventure Ocean program. About Adventure Ocean- Even though we went during school there were over 200 kids on board. Royal Caribbean does a phenomenal job with the kid's program (Characters aside - is Disney's really better?). Kids are divided into age appropriate groups and each day have a variety of activities that are sure to please them. My son got a daily Compass (newsletter) that outlined the themes and day's events. Adventure Ocean hours were from 9 a.m. - 11:45 with a break for lunch and 2 p.m. - 4:45 with a break for dinner and from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. in the evenings. My son went every hour he could as he did not want to miss anything. In addition to the daily hours, which are free, there is the Late Night- Party Zone which runs from 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. and is $5 per hour. Kids can also dine with other kids at 6 p.m. in the Windjammer if they are tired of the dining room (no charge). Themes included Harry Potter, Survivor, Sports and Science. There were scavenger hunts, talent shows, games and crafts but mostly the counselors played with the kids which made it fun for them. The counselors were all excellent. Kids have to be potty trained to participate but there are private fee-based babysitters for infants and toddlers if needed. On Saturday we had breakfast in the main dining room and they called our color before we even finished our toast. We found our luggage without delay and were ready to see New Orleans about 10 minutes after leaving the ship. A word about New Orleans. We should have allowed more time to see the city as there are many family-friendly activities. We did drive around the quarter and shopped in the flea market and French Market which was the best shopping of the trip. We hung out in Jackson Square, heard some great jazz, got our palms read and sampled beignets. I wish I had allowed more time for a carriage tour ($10 per person) and for the aquarium (there's always next time). Since we had been on other cruises recently, it was hard not to make a comparison. The service in the dining rooms was fine - but it did not thrill us as we had been thrilled in the past. Our cabin steward was great and our room was always perfect. The ship is lovely but lacked some of the extras we had experienced on the Celebrity Century and RCI Adventure of the Seas. That being said we all had a great time, the logistics in New Orleans were smooth and it was an excellent family vacation value. Read Less
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