Back To Line

Royal Caribbean International: Grandeur of the Seas

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Mar 1, 2017

Review of Grandeur of the Seas

Jeff Porr Age: 55 Occupation:mechanic Number of Cruises: 5 Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Ship: Grandeur of the Seas Sailing Date: 2015-11-22 Itinerary: Western Caribbean We started out with no hot water in our shower or sink for 3 DAYS. After complaining to the service desk multiple times, they finally fixed the hot water in the shower, but they never fix the hot water in our sink, we had no hot water in our bathroom sink for the entire cruise! I

had purchased the soda package since we do not drink alcohol we only drink diet soft drinks. They had 5 soda dispensers on the ship, one on deck 6 and 4 in the Windjammer cafe on deck 9 (our cabin was on deck 2). We boarded the ship Sunday afternoon, by Sunday evening the soda dispenser on deck 6 was out of soda. By day two the only soda dispenser that had diet soda was the one in the Windjammer cafe (starboard side) by the smokers. By day 3 there was no diet soda in any of the dispensers and none for the rest of the cruise (we were on a 10 day cruise). After complaining to the service desk several times we were offered a 6 pack of warm diet coke for our inconvenience! After several more attempts, we were finally able to get the soda package removed from our bill as this should have been a no-brainer and offered by from Royal Caribbean from the start. Our cabin was filthy! There was hair all over the bathroom sink and floor from day one. I had asked our cabin steward several times to please clean the bathroom, I finally cleaned it myself on day 3. Our cabin floor was also filthy and I don't think our cabin steward vacuumed our cabin the entire cruise (there was a piece of dental floss and paper on the floor by the chair from day one and were still there the last day. The only thing our cabin steward did was to make our bed ONCE a day and put out a few towel animals. The bed was like sleeping on a piece of plywood – The cushion on the bed was literally 1 inch thick, it was HORRIBLE. We asked if they could put some foam or something to make the bed a little softer, that request was ignored and nothing was done. The service in the Great Gatsby Dinning room was terrible. The attention span of the servers was about two steps from your table, if you ask for something and the server had to walk more than two steps away you were not going to get it! We had asked for chocolate milk for breakfast and were told they did not have any chocolate syrup to make chocolate milk. When we asked if there was no chocolate syrup on the ship, how are they able to make chocolate Martinis and Mudslide drinks, they just said there was no chocolate syrup and walked away. On day three we went for breakfast and asked for chocolate milk (it was a game by now) our server was Vanessa, she asked how much chocolate we would like in our milk and brought us chocolate milk (what a surprise a server who actually cared about the passengers). Vanessa got our WOW card, thank you Vanessa! We had four destinations with four excursions - one at each port. The disembarkations were a total debacle! There was no organization what so ever! It was like this was the first time they ever tried to disembark!!! There were so many people waiting to get off the ship on decks 2,3 & 4 you could not even get in or out of your cabins! It was absolutely ridiculous!!! The staff was like this was the first time they were ever on a ship! Our excursions were early for each stop and because of the disembarkments debacles, we were 45 minutes or more late for our excursions. Which in turn cut our excursion 45 minutes short so they could be on time for the next group, we were rushed through each stop. Some stops were rushed so much we had as little as 5 MINUTES! Thanks Royal Caribbean! The activities were few and not family oriented. The activities were either casino, shopping or alcohol related (what ever they could do to suck more money out of you)!!!! This was by far the most disappointing and disgusting vacation we have ever had. This was our 5th cruise (our 4th with Royal Caribbean) the quality of Royal Caribbean cruises has fallen to an extreme low. This ship, this crew, this staff, the service on board this ship and the total lack of attention to detail or to resolve any issues has convinced me to NEVER cruise Royally Screwed Caribbean again!!! The food was good but not great.

Read More
  • New

Nov 22, 2015

Western Caribbean

We started out with no hot water in our shower or sink for 3 DAYS. After complaining to the service desk multiple times, they finally fixed the hot water in the shower, but they never fix the hot water in our sink, we had no hot water in our bathroom sink for the entire cruise! I had purchased the soda package since we do not drink alcohol we only drink diet soft drinks. They had 5 soda dispensers on the ship, one on deck 6 and 4 in the

Windjammer cafe on deck 9 (our cabin was on deck 2). We boarded the ship Sunday afternoon, by Sunday evening the soda dispenser on deck 6 was out of soda. By day two the only soda dispenser that had diet soda was the one in the Windjammer cafe (starboard side) by the smokers. By day 3 there was no diet soda in any of the dispensers and none for the rest of the cruise (we were on a 10 day cruise). After complaining to the service desk several times we were offered a 6 pack of warm diet coke for our inconvenience! After several more attempts, we were finally able to get the soda package removed from our bill as this should have been a no-brainer and offered by from Royal Caribbean from the start. Our cabin was filthy! There was hair all over the bathroom sink and floor from day one. I had asked our cabin steward several times to please clean the bathroom, I finally cleaned it myself on day 3. Our cabin floor was also filthy and I don't think our cabin steward vacuumed our cabin the entire cruise (there was a piece of dental floss and paper on the floor by the chair from day one and were still there the last day. The only thing our cabin steward did was to make our bed ONCE a day and put out a few towel animals. The bed was like sleeping on a piece of plywood – The cushion on the bed was literally 1 inch thick, it was HORRIBLE. We asked if they could put some foam or something to make the bed a little softer, that request was ignored and nothing was done. The service in the Great Gatsby Dinning room was terrible. The attention span of the servers was about two steps from your table, if you ask for something and the server had to walk more than two steps away you were not going to get it! We had asked for chocolate milk for breakfast and were told they did not have any chocolate syrup to make chocolate milk. When we asked if there was no chocolate syrup on the ship, how are they able to make chocolate Martinis and Mudslide drinks, they just said there was no chocolate syrup and walked away. On day three we went for breakfast and asked for chocolate milk (it was a game by now) our server was Vanessa, she asked how much chocolate we would like in our milk and brought us chocolate milk (what a surprise a server who actually cared about the passengers). Vanessa got our WOW card, thank you Vanessa! We had four destinations with four excursions - one at each port. The disembarkations were a total debacle! There was no organization what so ever! It was like this was the first time they ever tried to disembark!!! There were so many people waiting to get off the ship on decks 2,3 & 4 you could not even get in or out of your cabins! It was absolutely ridiculous!!! The staff was like this was the first time they were ever on a ship! Our excursions were early for each stop and because of the disembarkments debacles, we were 45 minutes or more late for our excursions. Which in turn cut our excursion 45 minutes short so they could be on time for the next group, we were rushed through each stop. Some stops were rushed so much we had as little as 5 MINUTES! Thanks Royal Caribbean! The activities were few and not family oriented. The activities were either casino, shopping or alcohol related (what ever they could do to suck more money out of you)!!!! This was by far the most disappointing and disgusting vacation we have ever had. This was our 5th cruise (our 4th with Royal Caribbean) the quality of Royal Caribbean cruises has fallen to an extreme low. This ship, this crew, this staff, the service on board this ship and the total lack of attention to detail or to resolve any issues has convinced me to NEVER cruise Royally Screwed Caribbean again!!! The food was good but not great.

Read More
  • New

Oct 19, 2012

Eastern Mediterranean

Great itinerary and we were very happy with every aspect. We ate at The Windjammer throughout as it was situated on Deck 9 and overlooked the bow of the ship with a 180' outlook. It was a perfect viewing situation - especially when entering a port! We thought the variety and presentation of food was excellent and we were very satisfied with our whole experience. After several days at sea the Main Dining Room staff phoned us to invite us to

dine there because they had realized we hadn't been to that dining room at all. We thought that was a very good service. The officer in charge of dining in The Windjammer was present and checked on diners and their opinions at almost every meal. We felt that every possible effort was being made to ensure all guests were happy. We were very pleased with our stateroom which was a Balcony one just a bit towards the bow from the main forward staircase on Deck 7. The space was about a metre longer than the stateroom we had had on a previous cruise (with another cruise line) and the extra space meant that there was a full sized settee in the stateroom as well as the bed. The linen was of a very high quality and we thought the bed was very comfortable. The stateroom was kept in an immaculate condition by our steward. There seemed to be plenty of activities to suit most tastes. We attended most of the shows but apart from that we usually spent our time on board reading, eating and generally relaxing as we wanted to save our energy for the ports that we were visiting. The swimming pools were a good size and there were plenty of deck chairs for all. Many of the passengers spent most of their time there. Travelers should make sure that they read the descriptions carefully and pick excursions that suit their physical ability and their level of interest in that particular site/sites. We went on shorter tours in Athens, Kusadasi, Santorini and a longer one from Split. I found that comments on cruise review sites were helpful in deciding which tours would suit us best. If I went again I would spend more time exploring Split. Passengers who went on the excursion which included a river cruise said that it was a great day and they loved it. My husband and I wanted to visit Dubrovnik, Santorini and Mykynos and this was the only cruise at this particular time of year that included all three places. As we expected these ports proved a great experience but we also really enjoyed just wandering around the shops in Bodrum and also thought Split was definitely well worth a return visit at some stage in the future. We began the cruise in Venice and it was an amazing experience. We sailed very slowly along the channel between the islands and right past the entrance to the Grand Canal. It was an absolutely perfect way to begin the cruise and we will never forget such a wonderful sight.

Read More
  • New

Nov 2, 2011

mediteranean

HAVING SAILED WITH ROYAL CARIBBEAN BEFORE I WAS DISMAYED AT THEIR PENNY PINCHING WITH REGARDS TO THE PRICING OF SHORT BUS RIDES FROM THE SHIP TO JUST OUT SIDE THE PORT AREA. THE COST OF BOTTLED WATER ABOARD THE SHIP WAS DAYLIGHT ROBBERY. THE COST OF ALCOHOL ABOARD SHIP WAS UNBLIEVABLE. THE FOOD WAS JUST MEDIOCRE. IF THE SHIP HAD BEEN IN THE CARIBBEAN AND SERVED THE SAME FARE I BELIEVE MANY MORE PEOPLE WOULD OF COMPLAINED. MY STATE-ROOM

WAS FINE AND EVERY THING WORKED BUT THE BEDS DIPPED IN THE MIDDLE BECAUSE THE MATTRESSES WERE WELL WORN WITH NO RELACEMENTS AVAILABLE. APART FROM LYING IN THE SUN EVERY THING ELSE WAS EXPENSIVE. ARRANGE YOUR OWN AND MISS OUT THE MIDDLE MAN (ROYAL CARIBBEAN). WEATHER WAS GREAT ITINERY GOOD SHIP NEEDS A REFIT.

Read More
  • New

Oct 29, 2011

Palma to gibraltar

There seems to be a huge variety of differing views on this boat but I can only say how we found things. Firstly the food was superb. Both Windjammer buffet, breakfast and lunch and tea, and Dinner in the formal dinignrooms. Service excellent. The only downside was that there often seemed too many folks trying to get into bars or areas where entertainement was happening. The cruise director was invisible. Planning of entertainment was poor. Examples

being a great 70's evening dancing event which suddenly finished after an hour at 10 pm leaving families with children, like 11 yrs, with little to do. Often there were gaps in the scheduling and on balance the cruise director must be to blame. Other than this all was great. Large cabinss Excellent. Minor critisicism was that the buffet closed late evning and was not 24 hours. Larger than expected. Minor critiscism was nowhere to put cases. Not good. Poorly planned but when they happened they were good. Not enough areas to drink and relax. Dolphin Safari in gibraltar is a must. Go at 3.30 for best sightings. We saw over 100

Read More

By Deb_CR

  • New

Aug 15, 2011

Western Mediterranean

Chose this cruise for itinerary and departure date. Being a family of four booked two cabins - stateroom suite and internal double across the hall for 2 teenage children. Overall the cruise - facilities, food, entertainment, family friendliness excellent. Shore excursions were extremely difficult to book on board (you would need to pre-book on-line), however, we had no trouble arranging excellent private tours on shore. Whilst our Statement room/suite

was spacious and offered all the necessary ammenities we were unaware it was directly under the outdoor restaurant - heavy furniture being moved (dropped from what must have been a great height) from 5.30am (presume cleaners) until 1.00am - not pleasant. We opted to pre pay our 'tips' prior to departure, which includes stateroom attendant, dining room head, head waiter and assistant waiter, but found that all extras incurred a standard tip charge, we found the 'eagerness' for a tip to be quite off putting, we had not encountered this before. Food and service excellent - the variety offered at the casual "Windjammer" restaurant certainly made travelling with teenagers easy. We had trouble with our dining times and table - each room was on a separate table, and could only be combined on a shared table. The dining times in the formal restaurant were awkward for us either 6.00pm (too earlier) or 8:30 (not available). We did, however, find out about another formal dining area on our last day, which required a first in first served booking each day - probably would be the best option if you are looking for a private table and a time to suit. Our stateroom was spacious, well attended, but as mentioned above extremely noisy - the noise from the deck above made it impossible to have an afternoon nap, with the noise commencing at 5:30am - and we are NOT light sleepers! The activites were all there - we did not participate in the many poolside activities. One of our children used the rock climbing wall and enjoyed that. We used the gym regularly and took part in the spin classes (extra charge). Be warned children under 16 are not allowed to use the gym. The nightly shows were great. The casino was spacious and well staffed. The pools were happy and busy - the solarium pool (no children) was generally peaceful, there was a casual dining area at the rear which meant children had to 'sneak' through. The usual fight for a sun lounge on cruising days, we managed to snag ours both sailing days and only had them taken once while we were at lunch - had enough sun by then! All our stops Barcelona, Malaga, Ibiza, Gibraltor were great - we chose not to do long 4 hour tours rather shorter and then stroll around the towns - a favourite of ours is visiting the local food markets, dining in that area. From our past experience the larger groups tend to move more slowly - you can probably tell we're speed tourists! Overall a good cruise - would NOT recommend the Staterooms directly under the restaurant.

Read More
  • New

Jul 31, 2011

italian mediterranean

This was our 3rd cruise and our last with royal caribbean. first 2 cruises were with island cruises 3 star. Royal caribbean is supposed to be 5 star,(absolutely no way). We were on inside cabin ,deck 7. Smelly toilets nearly all cruise. Engineer working on this problem at 1:40 am outside our cabin and woke us from sleep. Very poor waiter service i.e. ordered 2 drinks in viking bar,handed over sea pass,waited 20 mins, still no drinks,went to bar to

see what was happening and found the waiter serving someone else, (and only 2 people at bar.) When I asked about the drinks he said he would get them soon. I asked for my card back as we were not staying and he assured me there would not be a charge for the ordered and cancelled drinks. We were baffled by what happened and went to reception to discover they had billed us for 18 dollars and we had not signed or received the drinks. I could go on and on. No difference from our previous 3 star cruises on island cruises. Clean but sewage stink as soon as you entered room. Not much of a STATEROOM. Very good if you were born in UK. English people everywhere and letting every other nationality know by the flags and shorts . Even the ship had union jacks emblased all around the centrum on one of the days. Children running mad all over ship and no supervision. Dont take ships excursions as too expensive and not value for money as time is very limited. In a word (or two) NEVER AGAIN.

Read More

By Sean_CR

  • New

Jun 25, 2011

Palma

I just got back from the Grandeur of the seas in the Med 2011, Had the best experience of my life, best holiday ever. I was a bit nervous considering the previous reviews but the Staff were extreamly friendly, the facilities were amazing, food quality and quantity were perfect, The entertainment was brilliant and the staff couldnt be more helpful. I didnt avail of any shore excursions but still had the time of my life. Although the ship is one of

the older in the fleet, I was impressed with the modern refurbishment. Absolutely brilliant ship Huge variety to choose from. Quantity was perfect, not too much and not too little. Also the quality was top class It was no penthouse but I was very impressed with the entire room. Very clean and the stateroom attendant couldnt have been more helpfull and friendly. No matter who you are, there will be some activities to suit you

Read More
  • New

May 31, 2011

mediterranean cruise

Not good.You prepay gratuities but they are added on every receipt on board from bar to shops.Case misplaced on arrival took several hrs to locate. Drinks extortionate with vat + gratuities on top.On disembarking told wife she had message on deck 5 to go back up 8 flights stairs. There they said she had a problem with her credit card and bill not settled. She doesn't have a credit card ? Then said it was sorted and she could go back down 8 flights

stairs to disembark. When she did she was again stopped from leaving as there was a message on deck 5 for her. It had not been sorted at all. During all this relatives were on the dockside wondering where the hell we had got to. Okay first week, but spoilt it by putting on same menu week two. Smaller than expected for the grand title. Shower ideal for any of the seven dwarfs. Shows good otherwise poor. Excursions expensive, listened to many people complain how little time they had at sites and poor value for money, so did not book any. First cruise, disappointed. Obviously many problems with sea pass card they give you. Worked first week, refused at bar week two, embarrassing.Probably our first and last cruise.

Read More
  • New

Oct 18, 2010

Grand Cayman and Mexico

This was my first time cruising and I couldn't have been more impressed. I'm already looking forward to planning the next cruise. The Royal Caribbean staff really do go out of their way to make sure your vacation is enjoyable. I am a very picky eater and I had no problem finding plenty of delicious food. We ate in the formal dining room one night to enjoy the superior service and the served meals. The rest of the cruise we ate in the buffet, as

it was more of a relaxed environment. I was pleasantly suprised to see lots of sugar free dessert choices in the buffet, since I have several diabetic people in my family. I could go on and on about the food, but I have no complaints, and I guess that's all that matters!! The staterooms on a ship are small, there's no doubt about it. Fortunately, there are so many activities to participate in and gorgeous views to enjoy that you dont spend much time at all in your room. For my spouse and I, the room was big enough for us both to move around, open up our luggage and do what we needed to do. Even though it was small, there was a huge window above the bed, so it doesn't feel claustrophobic at all. Next time I cruise, I think I'll take a step up and get a room with a balcony. There was never a lack of things to do. From first thing in the morning until we were too exhausted to do anything else, there was a full itinerary of activities to participate in - everything from children's activities to the Love and Marriage Gameshow, to the wonderful Parade of Flags on our last day of cruising. The dolphin encounter in Cozumel is AMAZING. You get to be right in the water with about 6-8 other people and 2 dolphins. We got to watch them jump, talk, wave, and more. Our group was a wide range of people, from a young boy to an elderly couple, and we all had a blast! The photographer takes your picture kissing the dolphin and you can purchase this after the excursion. Also, they video tape your whole experience and you watch it with your group afterwards. It was a very affordable, enjoyable and memorable experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat. This 5 day cruise was the perfect thing for first-timers. Mexico and Grand Cayman were beautiful and very tourist friendly - we didn't feel unsafe at all being in these foreign countries. I'm planning another cruise ASAP and it will definitely be with Royal Caribbean. The experience was so great that I don't think I'll ever risk cruising with another company!!

Read More
  • New

Sep 2, 2010

western caribeean

torture cruise average ok sucks!!! dont miss within the first 2 hours aboard, the sewage overflooded my stateroom... it was like that for 2 days....no shower for 2 days. the swimming pools were yellow for the first 2 days, the music throught the ship was all about tragedy, death, break up relationship etc...there was 500 out of control kids aboard. the shows all ended in some kind of tragedy or sadness. at the spa the music playing was the

godfather theme... too crazy for me... I tryied to fly out of Cozumel but couldn't. the port call in Key west sucked really bad cause it was a sunday at 7am... everything is closed at that time, by the tima anything open you have to be back onboard by 1:30pm??? didnt get to enjoy the port call at all. Cozumel was great.

Read More
  • New

Aug 9, 2010

western caribbean

My husband and I had a wonderful time on the Grandeur of the Seas 4-night cruise to Key West and Cozumel. The staff is superb; they really make you feel appreciated and that you are at home-away-from-home. We are ages 50 and 54; just entering the senior group. Since we wanted rest and relaxation, we spent most of our down-time on Deck 5 in a lounge chair reading.. We ate most breakfasts buffet-style in the Windjammer. There was fresh

fruit, hot and cold cereals, scrambled eggs or omelettes made to order, sausage, bacon and deli meats including smoked salmon; and different types of danish, breads and muffins as well as pancakes, waffles and french toast. Orange juice, coffee and tea is available. We enjoyed our breakfast; everything was tasty and hot and we could eat as much as we wanted. The only day we ate lunch was in the dining room on the Day at Sea. They had a delicious chop salad bar where you selected your ingredients and a chef chopped your salad in front of you. Then we ordered from the menu. Each night we ate dinner in the main dining room. Our waiters were excellent. The food was good and just enough. Hearty appetites may want to ask for more. Our stateroom was comfortable and clean. We both slept well in the beds. There is a shower gel/shampoo dispenser in the shower. Other than that bring your own toiletries. The room was kept tidy all day long. Our main goal for this trip was rest and relaxation so we only took part in a few activities. We enjoyed sitting by the pool listening to Caribbean-style music one night; another night we listened to latin music in the Centrum and a third night we participated in the salsa lessons. The captain's reception was wonderful with a live band and dancing which appealed to the 40+ crowd -- and drinks on-the-house. I most appreciated that they already had a punch in glasses ready for those who did not drink alcohol. We attended shows two nights and were pleased but I heard that the comedy night was the best. We are not the drinking-gambling-party type so we were not offended at any of the other activities for people who are; we just did not attend. My husband attended a night of jazz in one of the lounges; there were only about 12 people there - jazz enthusiasts. Others chose to party in the disco (which is on floor 11 - away from other public areas). However, it did not "invade our space". We got the rest and relaxation that we came for. I would say don't miss the Captain's Reception and make sure you are wearing a very high SPF sun screen in Cozumel. I wore SPF 50 and still got a heat rash. Also I recommend My Time dining which provides a table for 2 if you want and the opportunity to make a reservation for the time of your choice in the dining room. Overall, we had the best time and would definitely travel Grandeur of the Seas again.

Read More
  • New

Jul 18, 2010

Western Caribbean

I went on this cruise with an older family member. I knew this would not be the best cruise for seniors, but I was not expecting it to be so filled with partying twenty-somethings. There was little to do aboard the ship other than drink. The main pool was way too crowded and the solarium pool was little better except no kids were allowed (although that was not enforced). There were minimal activities other than things you had to pay to attend

(e.g., spa, classes, etc.) The entertainment on 2 of the 4 nights was not much more than advertising what you could spend money on while aboard. The cruise director/singer John Blair was good, but the theme of the shows he did were totally boring and amateurish. He was more of a performer than a personable cruise director.. Only the one night with the juggler/comedian was entertaining. The bands near the pool were noisy. The violinist who played in the Centrum was awful. The food in the dining room was good, although portions were on the small side. The dining room service was outstanding and we had a wonderful waiter and head waiter. The food in the Windjammer Cafe was mostly just ok. The layout of the Windjammer made it hard to get to the food. It was entirely self-service, which was difficult for two seniors. The room was satisfactory although the beds weren't the best. There were no extras (shampoo, etc.) in the bathroom. Everything was bare minimum. The room attendant was pleasant and kept the room in order. Overall this cruise was a disappointment. Good in dining room at dinner time. Not too interesting in the Windjammer. Lots of sandwiches, ordinary fruit (nothing tropical), desserts ok but not exciting. Lots of storage but everything else was bare minimum. Very little to do unless you wanted to drink, listen to loud music. Was limited because of the age of my traveling companion. Was given misleading information on how much walking was required to get to the low activity level excursions. If you are limited physically, none of the excursions were as accessible as they said they were. Was disappointed at the lack of activities for older passengers, the mediocre shows, the boring movie choices. Don't go on this ship unless you are under 40.

Read More

By Lisa_CR

  • New

Jun 10, 2010

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. We went to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary and we had an absolutely wonderful time! We went as cheaply as possible and got an interior state room with no window but it was still very nice accomodations and nice and quiet even though we were on level 2. We made lots of new friends and enjoyed using the pools/hot tubs on the ship as well as relaxing playing cards in the card room. We also used the fitness center a

lot (and as a result did NOT gain any weight!). The only shore excursion we booked was the Jeep and snorkeling tour on Cozumel which was a lot of fun and well worth the price. We saw the entire island, got to relax on a gorgeous beach and cool off in the pool, and they fed us chicken fajitas, rice, and beans which was delicious. Key West was ok, we still enjoyed walking around and exploring but a bit too touristy for our liking. CocoCay was the best as we were able to enjoy the water, play volleyball, and relax on one of the hundreds of lounge chairs sprinkled around the island. The ship was beautiful, we saw just about everything we could. We were never bored, even on our day at sea. Even though it is one of the smaller ships in Royal's fleet I was pleased with the size. Not so many people that it ever felt crowded (only exception was the outdoor pool during the afternoon) but enough so that you could make new friends. For us, it was a perfect vacation and we can't wait to go on another one! The food was AMAZING! You could pretty much get whatever you wanted for breakfast at the Windjammer. My husband loves his bacon and eggs but I opted for a healthy fruit, yogurt, and granola some days and it is all there. You can also get omelets made-to-order. Lunch buffet was about the same every day but with different hot dishes to choose from. I usually had sandwiches since it was so warm I didn't feel like filling up and I never got tired of the array of tasty dessert items. The lemonade on the ship was excellent, not like "minute maid" or "country time" but like real home-made lemonade. We did not get any special drink package and did not drink any alcohol at all (that saves you a TON of money right there) but I never got tired of drinking ice water, tea, coffee, and lemonade. Dinner in the Great Gatsby was one of the highlights of our trip. Our waitor and assistant waitor were the best! It was like they knew what we wanted before we told them! The food was fabulous and we sat with 3 other couples who were friendly and we had great conversation every night and lots of laughs. 2 of the other couples had cruised before and agreed that Royal Caribbean's food is among the very best. Italian night was my favorite but they always had enough choices that we could always find something we liked. Desserts: WOW! Most nights I could not decide on which one I wanted so sometimes we would order 2! I think that the food was definitely a highlight and even if you are a picky eater they will have something for you. The table next to our's had a family with 2 young children and they got things like chicken nuggets, fries, cheeseburgers, etc. since they did not want what was on the menu. Some of the best food I have ever eaten was on the cruise. Our stateroom was cozy with plenty of storage space to store our clothes and suitcases so it never felt cluttered. The tv could be pulled out and swiveled to face the bed, which was nice at night to relax before going to sleep. The bathroom was tiny but that's just how it is and honestly, I have had to use smaller bathrooms when I was in Europe so it was not bad. We never had any problems with the plumbing and our stateroom attendant kept things very clean for us. She also left little "animals" sculpted out of our towels, which kept us laughing when we found them. Each day was a different animal and we actually looked forward to it at the end of the day. There was definitely enough activities to choose from to keep you entertained for the day! We saw a couple of the shows in the Palladium theatre. The juggler, Mike Price, was our favorite. He was humorous and did juggling acts I had never seen before. It was amazing! The singing and dancing were well done but we're just not that into it so we skipped out on some of the shows and opted to go up to the hot tub instead, which was nice because there weren't hardly any people up there at that time in the evening. The ice sculpture carving was awesome, too, I highly recommend that. It's only about 20 minutes but I loved it and got lots of cool pictures. We mostly came up with our own things to do on the ship. We don't drink at all and are morning people, not night-owls, so we didn't spend any time in the lounges other than checking them out the first day on the ship. But we talked with other people who loved the Quest game and the Battle of the Sexes game. There's really something for everyone. The cruise director truly does his job well! We only did one excursion and we really enjoyed it. My husband likes driving "off-road" type vehicles, though, so he liked driving the Jeep all over Cozumel. Others we talked to said that the best snorkeling was in CocoCay so if you're into snorkeling you might want to bypass Key West and Cozumel. If you want to parasail I would recommend doing it in Key West and finding your own place rather than booking ahead (they overcharge if you go through Royal's excursions). One of our dinner friends informed us of that. We did not rent anything on CocoCay like the floating beach mat ($10 for the day) and didn't feel we really needed one. Although parts of CocoCay are rough to walk in bare feet (lots of shells) so if you're planning on swimming you might want some water shoes. Sand volleyball on CocoCay was a blast, find some friends and get a game going before it gets too hot in the afternoon. Overall, we could not have been more pleased with Royal Caribbean. They had a great, easy system for getting off and onto the ship, we never had to wait. We never had to fight for a chair up on the deck or a seat in the theatre. The service by everyone on the ship was outstanding, particularly our waitor in the dining room. It was a great value for the price we paid, too, roughly $200 a night. You can't hardly stay at a nice hotel for that price anymore and we not only got a nice room but awesome food and entertainment. Plus getting to see some new places! Also, I am usually prone to motion sickness and was a little worried. I took a dramamine the first day but that was it. Only one evening did the waves get a little rough. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing. If you love trying new foods, seeing the beautiful waters of the Caribbean, and being able to be as relaxed or busy as you like on a vacation, I would highly recommend booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Apr 1, 2010

WesternCaribbean

First and last time on Royal Caribbean. This was my all-time worst cruise experience. Dinner consistently poor. Breakfast & lunch decent. Poor condition & no sound insulation. Unimaginative & childish Only stopped in Cozumel . Did not take shore excursion. Ship was not clean. Dining room dress codes totally ignored ( e.g. -jeans & shorts all over on formal night ). Constant loud music all over. Pool parties until 1AM .Smoking where not

allowed. Poor food quality. Might be ok for kids, or classless people who don't know any better.

Read More
  • New

Apr 1, 2010

WesternCaribbean

First and last time on Royal Caribbean. This was my all-time worst cruise experience. Dinner consistently poor. Breakfast & lunch decent. Poor condition & no sound insulation. Unimaginative & childish Only stopped in Cozumel . Did not take shore excursion. Ship was not clean. Dining room dress codes totally ignored ( e.g. -jeans & shorts all over on formal night ). Constant loud music all over. Pool parties until 1AM .Smoking where not

allowed. Poor food quality. Might be ok for kids, or classless people who don't know any better.

Read More

By LISA_CR

  • New

Feb 13, 2010

cozumel

My fiance and I went on this cruise with another friend. I had previously sailed with Carnival. Carnival is much better! The ships--even the older ones-- are better. The food portions are small and not excellent quality (they are "okay", but not 5-star meals like one would expect). Activities were limited and seemed especially geared for an older--much older-- crowd. There did happen to be a lot of very older senior citizens on board. Bless 'em, but

I'm in my 30's and wanted a "fun" cruise, an energetic cruise. This was not it... unless you consider their "scrap-booking hour" fun and energetic. Most of the music everywhere was like 1940s lounge music. There were no good modern music bars at all. I ordered the Coke beverage package, but it was nearly impossible to find a place to get a fountain soda and the hours were limited (they don't tell you THAT when you book). I initially asked if I could bring my own sodas on board-and NO WAY was the answer, so I was stuck with their over-priced, hard-to-find fountain diet Cokes (versus my real poison, Diet Mt. Dew). The captains reception was nice with free champagne. The other choices to eat, other than the main dining hall were very limited and not really good food choices (unless you love to eat nothing but burgers, pizza, and hot dogs--which I don't eat that stuff at all). The best thing was the salad bar in the main dining room at lunch time-- it's no regular salad bar, it's awesome. The room as okay, and our steward was excellent. Getting on and off the ship was easy. It was an okay experience, ,but I will do Carnival again next time. Carnival seems to be a bit younger crowd and a lot more to offer in the way of activities, dance/music options, food options and food quality. However, if you are like 65 or older, this would probably be a very enjoyable trip for you. Small portions. had better quality on Carnival. Limited choices on this ship. Good. Excellent steward. Dull, boring, minimal. Geared for slow-paced persons. Way too long of bus trips to see the Mayan Ruins for the short amount of time you get at the ruins. Younger folks will enjoy the Beach Break Deluxe in Cozumel-- great price for transportation and all the food and drink you want for the day. Wouldn't sail Royal C again. Jokingly heard this ship called the "Grandma of the Seas" and it's so true -- funny but true!

Read More

By LISA_CR

  • New

Feb 13, 2010

cozumel

My fiance and I went on this cruise with another friend. I had previously sailed with Carnival. Carnival is much better! The ships--even the older ones-- are better. The food portions are small and not excellent quality (they are "okay", but not 5-star meals like one would expect). Activities were limited and seemed especially geared for an older--much older-- crowd. There did happen to be a lot of very older senior citizens on board. Bless 'em, but

I'm in my 30's and wanted a "fun" cruise, an energetic cruise. This was not it... unless you consider their "scrap-booking hour" fun and energetic. Most of the music everywhere was like 1940s lounge music. There were no good modern music bars at all. I ordered the Coke beverage package, but it was nearly impossible to find a place to get a fountain soda and the hours were limited (they don't tell you THAT when you book). I initially asked if I could bring my own sodas on board-and NO WAY was the answer, so I was stuck with their over-priced, hard-to-find fountain diet Cokes (versus my real poison, Diet Mt. Dew). The captains reception was nice with free champagne. The other choices to eat, other than the main dining hall were very limited and not really good food choices (unless you love to eat nothing but burgers, pizza, and hot dogs--which I don't eat that stuff at all). The best thing was the salad bar in the main dining room at lunch time-- it's no regular salad bar, it's awesome. The room as okay, and our steward was excellent. Getting on and off the ship was easy. It was an okay experience, ,but I will do Carnival again next time. Carnival seems to be a bit younger crowd and a lot more to offer in the way of activities, dance/music options, food options and food quality. However, if you are like 65 or older, this would probably be a very enjoyable trip for you. Small portions. had better quality on Carnival. Limited choices on this ship. Good. Excellent steward. Dull, boring, minimal. Geared for slow-paced persons. Way too long of bus trips to see the Mayan Ruins for the short amount of time you get at the ruins. Younger folks will enjoy the Beach Break Deluxe in Cozumel-- great price for transportation and all the food and drink you want for the day. Wouldn't sail Royal C again. Jokingly heard this ship called the "Grandma of the Seas" and it's so true -- funny but true!

Read More
  • New

Sep 12, 2009

bermuda

This was a great cruise on a clean, well organized ship. The staff was friendly and hard working, the shows were great and the food was for every taste with lots of healthy choices. We have no complaints except for the smoke in the casino. The rooms were nice, we realized on a ship that the bathroom would be small. We will choose the Royal Caribbean for our next cruise, we had a wonderful vacation! The food could not be better, a choice for

every taste! There were good, healthy options at all meals. Our room was very nice and roomy for a room on a ship. The bathroom was small but we managed very well. We liked all the activities, loved the shows and demos. We explored Bermuda on our own but will take a bus or ferry tour next time. This was a great trip, great ship full of wonderful people.

Read More

By Dave_CR

  • New

Jun 30, 2009

Canada and New England

This was a very pleasant cruise which exceeded my expectations in many areas. The ship, while going on 14 years old, is still quite fresh and well maintained. The itinerary was something different from the typical summer cruise to the Caribbean or Alaska. The crew was superb in every way. Truly of the highest caliber. The food was the big surprise - generally excellent in all venues. This was easily one of the best cruises I've taken in recent

years. I was impressed by the quality and taste of the food - both in the dining room and in the Windjammer buffet. Recent cruises on Royal Caribbean have left me a bit disappointed with the food but on the Grandeur it was simply delicious and well prepared and presented. Great duck, prime rib, steak, tempura, fish....even the cruise ship lobster was tender and full of flavor. Windjammer offerings were quite good too. Typical buffet fare but at a very decent standard. Service in the dining room was outstanding. Perhaps the best waiter we've ever had. Ditto the assistant waitress. Junior Suite 8086 is located on the aft port, overlooking the stern. I prefer balconies on the stern since they are usually larger than those along the sides and also are not buffeted by winds which can make them unusable. This cabin is really not a suite, just a larger standard balcony cabin with a bathtub. Still it was in good order and comfortable with lots of storage space. A foul odor did come wafting out of the floor drain when the water in the bath tub was first turned on, but this dissipated quickly. This cabin still has an ancient 13" Sony Trinitron TV set. Upgrading to LCD screens might be a good idea. Very good. The Cruise Director John Blair, and his wife Katrina - who serves as hostess - are wonderful both as a team and as individuals. Entertainment was mostly decent. Very good bands. The Rosario Strings team on this ship (there are many Rosario Strings ensembles floating around out there on various ships) was superb. Captain Rob Hempstead is quite humorous and took an active role in many onboard activities. The same goes for Hotel Director Michael Prasse. Their exuberance and outgoing personalities have obviously cascaded through the entire crew as evidenced by how much fun everyone had. The crew really made this cruise special. Nothing memorable but when in Bar Harbor going to Acadia National Park is "the" thing to do. I do wish to advise people booking the Ganong Chocolate Experience in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, that they might wish to do their homework first. This tour takes you 70 miles away to the border with Maine to tour a rather smallish and mundane chocolate museum. A four hour tour where 75% of the time is spent in a bus going to the tour and then back to the ship. If you take this tour you won't have time to see any of Saint John. It is also quite expensive for what you get. This cruise went out of Baltimore with two sea days, Saint John, Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston, and a final sea day on the return to Baltimore. It was an 8 night cruise with a decidedly older clientele. This meant the ship was often quiet and not much was going on in the lounges after 10pm. Seas were mostly calm with a couple nights of choppiness but nothing terrible. It was foggy and cool often - again not unexpected given the itinerary. The cruise was uneventful until the last morning. Engine problems sometime after midnight caused us to slow and as a result the ship was a couple hours late in returning to Baltimore. This caused some angst for passengers with early flights but the crew managed it as best they could. In my case I was supposed to leave the ship at around 8am and we ended up leaving at 10:40am. Even with this glitch, I still won't let it detract from a great cruise experience. The crew of the Grandeur Of The Seas deserves accolades and a hearty Well Done!

Read More
  • New

Jun 19, 2009

Norfolk - Bermuda - Norfolk

First RCI cruise - and last! The accomodations were roomy (outside window) but there was no bathrobe offered in cabin, no hand lotion, no conditioner. Most missed: NO cabin refrigerator. Soap dispenser on shower wall broke during cruise and was never fixed; substitute shampoo was never offered (fortunately I had brought a small bottle). We couldn't believe we were not offered conditioner or hand lotion. The broken soap dispenser never fixed (see

1st paragraph). One day we left dirty teacups in cabin and they remained there until bedtime. Although, the dining room waiter was very helpful but food was just so-so. In general, service in some bars was slow. Showtime: there were some good shows but some of the performing ladies were overweight. In fact, one or two looked like they were pregnant. Sailing from Norfolk was convenient for people from NC, SC, VA, MD. The food was mediocre. Desserts were especially unexciting: cakes were puffed up and cookies were dry. The sugar-free offerings lacked taste. Food very mediocre as compared to Carnival and especially Princess. We did our own excursions, as Bermuda public transportation is very good. People on their first cruise thought the ship, food, and activities were very good. People who compared this cruise with other cruiselines felt it was somewhat inferior.

Read More
  • New

Mar 21, 2009

Western Caribbean

I went on this cruise with the people I babysat. I love them. But the cruise not so much. it was nice, but the entertainment and size of the ship was very disappointing. the center of the ship was spactacular and the staterooms were very nice and ALWAYS clean. The only complaint I really have is for a kid my age there was NOTHING to do. I was always very bored. Yes they do give you a schedule for what the teen group is doing, but it was the same thing

everyday and nothing really that interesting. Also for a person thinking cruise ships were VERY big, this ship is the smallest ship I have ever been on. All there was really to do was play ping pong and layout. My only suggestion is if you are taking someone my age, this is not the ship to choose. Your friend/child will never want to go on another.

Read More
  • New

Oct 14, 2008

Caribbean

Overall, the cruise was great and a good bargain for the money. Leaving from Baltimore was very convenient as we live in Maryland. Overall, we enjoyed the food in the dining room. The food in the buffet was ok but it was rather limited. What I was not all that impressed with was that the buffet area that was only open for limited hours and frequently shut down to prepare for later meals. On other ships I have been on, the buffet was set up with

several lines so one could always be open. We had traditional, second seating (at 8:30) which is late but there were no openings for the early (6:30) seating. Our waiter (Russell) and assistant (Haydee) provided excellent service. The ship served Seattle's Best coffee throughout the ship and it was very good. The desserts in Buffet unfortunately were rather tasteless and choices were very limited. Outside with Balcony (7th floor). Most of the inside activities (dining rooms, show rooms, etc.) on the Grandeur are down on Deck 5 or Deck 6 so the 7th floor was convenient. The buffet was up on 9. I thought the room was rather large for a cruse ship. The room included a sofa, plenty of closet space, a refrigerator, tv, and a bathroom I thought was slightly larger than what I have had on the Princess ships. We were in San Juan on a Sunday and got in too late to take the Bacardi tour which we had arranged. So, we just got off the ship and walked around and frankly I didn't think much of San Juan. In St Thomas, we decided to take a tour which went over to St John and toured the island. It was ok but nothing great… no shopping there. In Samana, we took the Samana Highlights tour which was a waste of time. Samana was very disappointing. Most people I spoke with on the ship agreed that Samana was not worth the stop. The few people that did seem to like the place took a beach tour. Labadee is a beach stop and was fantastic. I have been to Princess Cays and assumed this would be similar but I would rate Labadee as significantly better. There are several beaches there. The beach closest to the ship has very smooth water and was a bit crowded. We went towards Columbus Beach which had waves and rented float (mats). Nice spot but definitely recommend wearing aqua socks as the beach is a bit rocky in spots. We arrived to the ship at Noon and there was a short line. Getting on the ship was relatively easy. Leaving the ship seemed a bit disorganized compared to the other cruises I have taken. RCI assigns people to various parts of the ship to wait and then does not announce departure via loudspeaker but instead sends a runner to the room to make the announcement. Not very user friendly as the room I was assigned to did not have capacity to sit everyone. The Grandeur is a nice ship, the service was good, and the food was generally good. Having cruised several times before, I could have picked out several things to nag about that RCI could have done different but overall I was very happy to have taken this cruise. I did not think much of the stops except for Labadee which I would definitely like to return to.

Read More
  • New

Jul 19, 2008

5-day cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda and back

3rd, 2005 Quick Summary: Quality of the food was good, service was good, entertainment/activities was excellent. Bermuda was a great island. Engine problem caused delay in leaving port and abbreviated time in Bermuda – poor communication on the issue and confusion on the itinerary caused much frustration, but they did give us 50% credit on this cruise and a 50% discount toward a future cruise. Overall, we enjoyed

the cruise and would do it again, hoping there would not be any major snafus like this time. Embarkation The information sent to us before the cruise said not to arrive before 3pm, which seemed late for a cruise scheduled to leave at 5pm. Everyone told us to get there much earlier because the wait to check-in is shorter, you can spend time to investigate the ship, and you can eat lunch. We followed their advice and arrived at the port about 12:30pm and there seemed to be no issue with being early. We dropped our luggage off in front of the ship and parked the car. Parking was right next to the ship, which was convenient - $50 for the length of the 5-day cruise. When we arrived at the port, we learned that the ship had engine troubles and had just arrived to port. (More on this later.) They gave us a letter explaining the problem and offering us 50% credit on this cruise and a 50% discount toward a future cruise, or a full refund on this cruise if we chose not to take it. We, and apparently everyone else, continued with the cruise. It took us about 20 minutes to check-in and get our Seapass card. People that arrived earlier than us did not get their Seapass card for some reason when they arrived and had to wait 2 hours in the late afternoon (after returning from the Inner Harbor) to get them – that would have been very frustrating if we had been in that situation. Because of the delayed departure time, Royal Caribbean had buses take guests from the terminal over to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the afternoon. They had a conference room at the Wyndam Hotel with food. We chose, however, to eat at the Inner Harbor (on our own dime) because it was a nice day and we did not want to be cooped up in a hotel. Getting back to the cruise terminal was tense and time-consuming because there were not enough buses to take everyone at once and we had to wait for awhile on the bus to unload. Once we exited the bus, we were able to board the boat immediately (around 5:00pm) after proceeding through security (again) at the terminal. We were able to go to our room and our luggage had arrived already. We spent some time walking around the ship to see where everything was. Room Our room was located on Deck 2, the lowest deck for passenger rooms. We were toward the very front of the ship (room 2510) on the outside, so we had two small porthole windows. Of course, the room was small but laid out well – we were able to fit all our clothes in the closet and drawers. The shower was small. In general the room was very quiet except the last night when they were moving luggage and when we were docking – the jets were very loud and must have been located close to our room. Engine Problems As mentioned earlier, the ship had engine troubles at the end of the cruise before ours. They worked to repair the engine while at port in Baltimore. They were unsure if they could get it back to full-working order and would not know for sure until we hit the open ocean. This delayed departure time to about 8:30pm, 3.5 hours late. (Note that there was never an announcement that we departed from Baltimore – the boat just started moving.) They also initially said that our time in Bermuda would be shortened a lot – we would arrive at 5pm Tuesday and leave at 12pm Wednesday (versus the original arrival of 9am Tuesday and departure of 5pm Wednesday). Needless to say, nobody was happy about this. During an announcement after the muster drill, however, the captain implied that the engine had been fixed and that they would try to make up the lost time en route to Bermuda. The next morning we checked the Cruise Status on the TV channel and it appeared that we were close to full speed and that the Bermuda arrival and departure were at the original, longer times. But then we heard conflicting times from crew members and other passengers. Later on Monday afternoon, the Captain made an announcement indicating that we would arrive in Bermuda between 2 and 3 p.m. on Tuesday. When we asked at the Excursions desk, they said that the estimated depature time from Bermuda would be 3 p.m. on Wednesday. At the “Meet the Captain” happy hour, the Captain would not speak at all about the engine status nor the arrival/departure times. On Tuesday, the day we were to arrive in Bermuda, it was announced that we would be departing at noon on Wednesday. No reason was given. We actually arrived at Bermuda at 2pm on Tuesday, a little ahead of schedule. On the way back to Baltimore, we must have been at full speed. The captain announced shortly after departure that we would be back early to the Chesapeake Bay and to port in Baltimore. As he predicted, we arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at about 8pm Thursday which is about 5-6 ho urs earlier than you would expect. They must have slowed the ship to a crawl in the Chesapeake Bay because we did not dock at the port in Baltimore until about 4am Friday, a long time to travel that distance but still a few hours earlier than planned. Given the speed with which we were able to return to Baltimore, we could not understand why we could not have stayed in Bermuda for a few more hours (instead of leaving 5 hours earlier than originally scheduled) which would have made our stay much more enjoyable. Nor did we understand why we arrived in Bermuda five hours later than scheduled, when our departure was only 3.5 hours behind schedule. The most frustrating thing was the total lack of communication on this issue. They did not tell us whether or not the engine was fully repaired, nor why the schedule had been modified several times. We would have been more satisfied if they had explained the reason for the early departure, such as they wanted to be back in Baltimore early to check the engine in preparation for the next cruise which was leaving the same day we would be returning. Instead, no explanation was offered or given. The 50% rebate and future discount was definitely a good compensation, but the RC attitude was “you got your 50% off, so be happy.” (This was actually stated on several occasions by the cruise director staff and the Captain himself.) We believe that since we had received such a discount, Royal Caribbean felt no obligation to make our stay in Bermuda any more lengthy. We found that the 50% credit had been promptly applied on our credit card account, after we returned home. Bermuda The ship docked at King’s Wharf at the Royal Navy Dockyard at the Northwest tip of the island. Bermuda is a very clean island with very little poverty and crime – we had no problem walking the streets at night. With the abbreviated stay in Bermuda, we had to make the most efficient use of time. Our snorkel excursion was cancelled because the ship arrived too late – we were refunded the charge promptly. We dashed off the ship as soon as the doors opened. We hurried to buy tokens and to jump on the ferry to Hamilton, the biggest town on Bermuda. Only a handful of cruisers made the ferry – the Bermuda transportation system doesn’t seem to be very flexible to accommodate a cruise ship, especially if the itinerary changes. We did a little shopping before the stores closed (5pm for most of them) and a self-walking tour around the city. We saw city hall, some churches and Fort Hamilton (which also closes at 5pm). We had a nice dinner at the Harbourfront Inn (sushi and drink specials before 6:30pm) and stopped at Hogspenny pub for a beer where we met a nice couple from Boston. On Wednesday morning, we woke up very early in order to get to a beach before the ship departed. Again transportation was difficult at this odd time (~7:30am). Taxis were very difficult to get and a direct bus to a beach was not available. We decided to jump on another bus and the bus driver helped us transfer to a bus that went to the beach. We wanted to go to Church’s Bay, which supposedly is great for snorkeling but there wasn’t anyplace to rent snorkeling equipment at that time. Instead we went to Horseshoe Bay. This was absolutely beautiful with pinkish sand, very clear water, and awesome coves. We could see colorful fish swimming in the water. We got back to the boat at 11:30am and the ship promptly departed around noon. While there is a small beach close to where the ship docked (called Snorkel Park), it was definitely worth the effort to see Horseshoe Bay. Dining The formal dining room, “The Great Gatsby” was very elegant. The quality of the food in general was very good, though a few items (i.e. filet mignon, French onion soup) were average. Monday night was the formal dinner – most men wore suits and the dress for women varied from formal dresses to sundresses. The other nights were more casual – a few sports jackets for men and a majority with slacks and polo shirts. We sat at a table with 3 other pairs that were pleasant company, but did not have a lot in common with us (two pairs were mother/daughter combos). It would have been nice if RC sat us with other married couples under 40 traveling without kids. We only had one lunch in the “The Great Gatsby.” It was very good. For breakfast and the other lunches, we ate in the Windjammer, which was on the pool deck and had a great view from the front of the ship. The buffet food was decent. You could feel the movement of the ship very much from this vantage point, however. The midnight buffet had awesome ice sculptures and great presentation of the food. We actually did not stay up to 12:30am when you could actually eat the food. We heard mixed reviews from the other passengers as to the quality of the food. Service Our dinner service was very good. The food was served to our table quickly and we were out in time to enjoy the nighttime entertainment. Our waiter was friendly, though not that charismatic. Our head waiter was very good. Our state room attendant was excellent – very friendly and mild-mannered. The worst part of the service on the ship was bar service. It was very difficult to get a drink in “The Great Gatsby” and we had to wait a while at some of the bars to get served. This perplexed us because RC makes more money if we buy more drinks. Entertainment/Activities Every evening the Cruise Compass pamphlet was left in the room which listed all of the events of the next day. This was very useful. The shows were put on in “The Palladium” which was an elegant theater. An excellent comedian, Al Romas, performed on the first night. He was hilarious. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers put on two long shows and did abbreviated numbers throughout the cruise. We only saw one long show, “Jump Jivin’ Swing”, which was centered around the 30’s and 40’s, and was very good. They also did a tribute to Broadway shows which got a decent review from another couple. Rick Novell performed on the last night who did a comedy/juggling routine – he was good. There was also a magician, which we did not see. They put on some fun game shows such as the “Love & Marriage” (Newlywed type game), “Battle of the Sexes” (Family Feud type game), and “Grandeur Quest” (an adult scavenger hunt - bring extra undergarments and a camera). One night was Karaoke and because the talent on the ship was tremendous and enjoyable, they added a second night of Karaoke later in the cruise. Of course, they had the casino but we are not gamblers and never had time to try it. They also had bingo. We only participated in the last round on the last day because there was huge jackpot. A girl won the $8100 jackpot (tax-free). The Viking Club was the nightclub. The first night they had 70’s music which was fun. The RC Singers & Dancers did a short ABBA routine and the cruise staff did a short Village People routine. The rest of the time they played new dance music interspersed occasionally with some dance songs from the 80’s and 90’s (i.e. Michael Jackson, C&C Music Factory). It would have been nice to mix up the music a little more (maybe 80’s hour) but it is difficult to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Out of the three nights that we stopped at the Viking Club, only on Monday night was it real crowded. There was also a piano man in the Schooner Bar but we never had time to enjoy this – we never did see a lot of people in there when he was playing. On Tuesday night (when we were docked at Bermuda) they had a Caribbean pool party which was very well-attended. They had music and food. A lot of people were line dancing. We were very entertained by the Activities Director, Tommy Cash (“Cha-Ching”). He ran bingo and many of the other activities. He could be a comedian in his own right. Kelly, who also ran a lot of the activities, was also very good. Recreation They had 2 pools – one was outside that was open to everyone and the other pool was inside for adults. Both pools were surprisingly small so they got very crowded when the sun was hot. We expected larger pools for the number of people on the ship. The kids dominated the outside pool. Every afternoon they had a contest around the pool, which was entertaining. In the middle of the afternoon, the Caribbean band would play. Around the outside pool were 4 hot tubs, which were always crowded. The adult pool had 2 hot tubs which we tried late one afternoon. It was difficult to find a lounge chair around the pools. Though you are not supposed to reserve chairs, people would throw a towel on the chair and not come back for an hour or more. The fitness center was decent. There were several treadmills, elliptical machines, and bikes. There was a full set of dumbbells and several weight machines. They had a room for yoga and aerobic classes. On the back of the ship was a rock climbing wall. There was a long line the first couple days to do this. It is best to do this in the morning before it gets crowded. Disembarkation Disembarking started at 7am and we had to be out of the room by 8am. They were offering breakfast until 8:30am. We chose to do the Self-Assist option when disembarking. Information on how to do this was lacking, though in the end, it was pretty simple. Basically, you keep all of your luggage and you carry it off yourself. You still get colored luggage tags which are called out when it is time to leave. This option is great if you want to be off the ship quickly - we were off the ship, through customs, and out of the terminal in 10 minutes (by 7:30am). The customs agents were at the door and collected the Declaration forms – we did not have to do anything else with Customs. If you want to have breakfast, the self-assist option may be a hassle because you need to keep your luggage with you unless you can get breakfast and back to your room before 8am. There were some folks on our deck who chose the self-assist option, but did not leave when their color tag was called. They went to get breakfast and just left their luggage in the hall. We do not know if they encountered any problems later by choosing this route. In your room the night before you leave, RC provides a questionnaire seeking feedback about all aspects of the cruise. The service attendants depend on getting “Excellent” feedback to get extra days off. We were anxious to provide our feedback. We thought there was supposed to be a drop-off box on the gang-way but we did not see one. Later, we recalled that Kelly was collecting things as people were leaving, but during the rush at the exit and customs, we did not notice - it was most likely the questionnaires. We will try to mail ours to RC.

Read More

By Tere_CR

  • New

Dec 24, 2007

Western Caribbean

My husband and I and four kids (ages 10, 9, 8, and 4) took our first cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. My in-laws were also along, as was my sister-in-law, her two girls (ages 10 & 7), and their dad. They were all veteran cruisers, so we had some idea what to expect though it still took us a few days to settle in and get into the groove. Should have done a 7- or 10-day cruise. Our room (7073) was compact, but clean, comfortable, and totally

soundproof. The bed was superbly comfortable and we all slept like well-trained babies at night. We were amazed by all the nooks and crannies for storing things. Too bad we missed a few things when packing up to leave. Hope somebody finds them useful. Our steward Connelley was awesome—professional, friendly, helpful, and tireless. Our kids loved the towel animals and mints he left every night. The two younger kids were fascinated by their bunks, which folded down from the ceiling. The other two slept in grandma and grandpa’s room across the hall, which had about ½ as much room as ours. They were bummed to be relegated to a fold-out couch, but did get to enjoy the balcony. Several nights we started all the kids off in our room and then went to enjoy some of the evening activities while the kids slept. Another plus of totally soundproof rooms. Don’t worry. We did check in on them occasionally. We checked out kids into the Ocean Adventure program at least once per day. They loved the activities, which included art, theater, science experiments, movies, themed-parties, scavenger hunts, talent shows, and behind-the-scenes tours. My four-year old even got to stay when we went on shore at Progresso. She would have quickly worn out with the heat and walking, so I was extremely thankful for that option. Her desire to shop was fully satisfied when I took her to the shops located on the dock just beside the ship. All in all I was impressed with the structure of the program and the professionalism of the staff. My only complaint is that they did not check our ID when we picked the kids up, so either they were really good at memorizing faces or they were relying on the kids to verify that the person picking them up was grandpa. My kids enjoyed making new friends. The dining was fabulous…especially the desserts. I didn’t have to cook and the kids had so much variety they couldn’t possibly complain and didn’t. Our head waiter even arranged for us to have Baked Alaska one evening at my brother-in-law’s request. We took breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and opted for the early seating in the Great Gatsby. A note to cruisers with kids…the evening programs in Ocean Adventure start at 7:00, so if you have early seating but want your kids to enjoy their evening activities, you’ll either have to leave dinner early or remember to sign them up by noon for dinner with the Ocean Adventure staff. We did this one night so that the adults could enjoy a dinner sans kids. And the kids were happy to get pizza. Our waiter was great (Zhelyu), though I think we messed up his routine by tossing in a bunch of odd requests. What would have been helpful to me as a new cruiser was to understand the role of each of our three waiters (head waiter, waiter, and assistant). That would have helped us know of whom we should ask certain things. A note to moms: there is a kids’ menu with standard kid fair (pasta, steak, ravioli, etc.), but kids’ meals have to be cooked when ordered, unlike adult meals which have already been prepared. Because of this Zhelyu wanted their order right away, but you know kids…it always takes a while to figure what they want. As a result our dinner stretched a little long each night, which then put the waiters in a crunch to prep for the next seating. By the last evening, I finally figured out that the menu was posted daily outside the dining room, so what I did was review it with the kids so that they would know what the options were there. This worked out well because then they knew in advance whether they wanted something different. There were a couple midnight buffets with good food as well, but I was too dead by then to fully enjoy them. Being a holiday cruise, there was quite a nice mix of ages on board—lots of teens, seniors, parents w/kids…several large family groups. The daily offering of activities seemed to have something for everyone—dances, karaoke, competitions, Bingo, casino…all probably standard fair. The Grandeur has a rock-climbing wall which hubby said had a variety of routes. The main pool wasn’t very big, but did have a nice, fenced-off shallow end for toddlers and three hot tubs. There seemed to be tons of deck space—some shaded for those wanting to avoid the sun. The Grandeur also has a solarium with small lap pool and hot tub for adults only. This was a nice option for those who didn’t want to be around kids. My favorite activity was the adult quest—I just tend to be competitive and my husband was a good sport to play along. The magician Jeff Peterson was great and had a matinee which was nice for the kids. We were also treated to the comedy of Yakov Smirnov, who was absolutely fabulous. He was clean, funny, and had an uplifting message to his show. We weren’t impressed by the musicals. I think the dancers were fine, but the themes of the one show we saw (My Romance) was boring. We ended up not going back to the others—more because of conflicting activities than anything, though had the first show been fabulous we would have made a more concerted effort to show up. Let’s see…what else. Oh yes… ports of call. The first stop was Cozumel. We had booked a catamaran/snorkeling excursion. The whole thing was a bit more manufactured than I would have liked, but the kids had a good time and it was fun sitting on top as we motored (not sailed) along. The sail was up, but the props did most of the work. The snorkeling was in a bit of roped off water off the shore, much to my disappointment. We had to wear flotation devices, which made snorkeling difficult unless you let most of the air out. There wasn’t much to see once the 60 of us got into the water and started bobbing around. BUT…it was an okay and safe first introduction to snorkeling and we did see a couple pretty fish. We had more fun using the snorkels at the “private beach” we then went to for an hour. While everyone else ate burgers, played beach volleyball, and swam in the roped off area, our kids stayed on the other side of the boat and snorkeled around there in shallow water. There weren’t many fish, but there was all kinds of shells and dead coral on the bottom. They had fun collecting all sorts of pretty things, but then cried when they had to throw them all back in. The ride back to the ship was fun—lots of dancing and drinking if you are into that sort of thing. MY favorite bit of Cozumel, however, was finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Las Palmitas about 5-6 blocks down Calle 3 Sur and then over ½ a block. Just do what I did and ask the locals how to find it. One of the guys on the boat recommended it. Fabulous food…authentic to the core. Our second port of call was in Progresso. We spent some time shopping here and found another little hole-in-the-wall place to eat. It wasn’t quite as good as Las Palmitas, but we still ate well and the kids got their tamales. I would have liked more time to explore the town…maybe go to the ruins or into Merida, but simply couldn’t do it all. For those who want to shop but not stray too far from the ship, one can go just a few paces down the dock from the ship to a collection of stores. There is also a bar there and entertainment from local dancer and mariachi bands. All in all sailing on the Grandeur was a great experience. We found plenty to do and enjoyed spending time with the family without having to provide the meals and the entertainment. My biggest complaint is that unless you are ordering alcoholic drinks, the bar service doesn’t really have any interest in bringing you anything. I gave up trying to get a glass of water or lemonade after the first day by the pool and fetched my own. My kids thought that soft serve should have been available all day, not just in the afternoons and evenings.

Read More
  • New

Mar 16, 2007

Western Caribbean

This is my third cruise and first with Royal Caribbean. I took this cruise with my 12 year old son for spring break. We had a great time. The ship was older but clean and well maintained. We had an outside cabin with a window, but really did not spend much time in our cabin. The cabin was average size for a cruise ship and everything was clean and in working order. Our cabin steward did a fine job of cleaning up after us and keeping us loaded

with fresh supplies. My son is not much for joining in with the adventure activities so we took advantage of the many relaxing activities that we could do together. We hung out around the pool, played multiple games in the arcade, played chess in the game room and attempted the rock wall on multiple occasions. The food was good (better than I expected after reading some of the other reviews). We ate our dinners at the early seating (6:00 pm) in the Great Gatsby Dining Room and sat with a pleasant family of four. We enjoyed talking with each other about our days on ship or shore. The other family’s children (two girls) spent a lot of time with the adventure club and seemed to truly enjoy it. There were multiple selections each night for dinner and I frequently had a difficult time choosing between them. More then once I ended up with two entries based on the recommendation of our waiter. In addition, we ate most of our breakfasts in the Windjammer buffet. There are plenty of options and most every thing was very good. We ate frequent lunches at the Solarium bar where we had pizza or burgers and fries. I must say that I found the fries to be very good…and I typically try to eat healthy and stay away from the fried foods. We went during peak spring break week and I was somewhat concerned that we would have to deal with excessive spring breaker and the issues that can bring. There were plenty of younger adults on board that did a lot of heavy drinking but mostly this was contained to the pool bar or the adult bars in the evening. We were not bothered by this at all during our seven days. In fact Royal Caribbean made it very clear that they expected appropriate behavior. This was broadcast repeatedly as we boarded and reviewed each day in the daily newsletter. We heard rumors of some “kids” being sent home after becoming too rowdy/drunk/inappropriate. I do not know if this is true or not. We attended the production show each night and enjoyed them immensely. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers are very impressive and they provided entertainment on a couple of nights. There was a magician one evening that was very good and left us talking about how he accomplished his illusions for an hour or so after the show. The Nelson Brothers preformed one evening and sang some of their original songs as well as some of their father’s hits. This was an enjoyable show. We enjoyed each port…once we got away from the tourist shops. We spent the day on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman ($10 taxi ride for the two of us each way). The water was beautiful and was not as crowded as I expected it would be. We did walk through some of the shops and even bought a few souvenirs to take home. In addition, after walking out of town and down the beach I took some great pictures of our ship from the shore. One timed picture of my son and I in front of the ship turned out especially well…this is framed and in my office. Costa Maya was pretty and the only port where the shipped actually docked. There is not much at this port aside from flea market type shops and the public pools and beach. We took the four hour tour to Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and thoroughly enjoyed our time on this tour. Our guide (Jesus…or “Papa” as he liked to be called even though he was at least 15 years younger then I) was very knowledgeable and indulged our many questions. My son had written a report on the Mayan culture and had many questions for him after the group had been released to explore each area on our own. Cozumel was a very busy port and we decided to rent a jeep to travel around the island and spend time at the beaches on the ocean side. We had a great time traveling around the island and made many stops to play in the surf and enjoy the sunshine. One very large word of caution…if you plan on renting a vehicle at this port and probably any other foreign port make sure to see the vehicle before you rent it. We negotiated our rental on the pier where the tender docked thinking that it would be easier to start from there and work our way around the island. I negotiated a good rate and paid our deposit. We were lead a few blocks away to the storage area where we were provided the jeep it was older and had high mileage (much more then the many others we saw around the island). Due to this or maybe poor upkeep the battery died while we were stopped at one of the beaches. Luckily there are tourist assist trucks that drive around the island assisting tourist with just these types of issues. They got our jeep running but encouraged me to drive directly back to the rental office and replace the jeep. I did drive back to the office and returned the jeep. The rental operators were somewhat reluctant to renegotiate my rate due to my troubles but eventually cut the price in half…which I felt was reasonable for the amount of time that we actually had the jeep. We spent a couple hours in town purchasing souvenirs for the rest of the family back at home. Overall I would definitely recommend this ship and Royal Caribbean to anyone interested in a nice vacation for a reasonable sum of money.

Read More

By Keva_CR

  • New

Feb 10, 2007

Western Caribbean

We left from New Orleans on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise, it was our 4th (2 RC and 1 Princess prior). Our group comprised of my husband and I, our (nearly) 4 yr. old son and my 21 yr. old brother. My first concern was our son having a good time and the entire crew did every thing they could to ensure he did! From our waiters in the dining room (Puteen and Sauvio), to the room steward (Jerry), they all catered to him and made the experience

a truly memorable one! I can't say enough good things about the Adventure Ocean program and staff as well, Mud Pie Megan was amazing along with the other staff members. Our little guy started with a bit of separation anxiety, they were very understanding and patient, and worked hard at making us feel comfortable. They gave me a pager so that if he had any problems they could get in touch with me. Once he realized I was just a call away, he was fine and ready to play. The activities they have for the kids are great, he's still telling stories about what all they did! They also hand out a daily activity schedule so you know what's planned. The kiddie pool on the ship is nothing amazing, just your typical splash pool, but he loved it and it was plenty for him. The ship itself is older, but well kept. It was very clean and everything was in good working order. They were always cleaning the ship, there were the occasional odors in the halls that had you rushing through, but you would be hard pressed to find a speck of dust. They also have the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer in front of all eateries and someone there making sure everyone "washes up" which was very nice. The overall age on this cruise was 60+, so the energy level wasn't what others we've been on has been. It was also kind of a bummer for my brother in that there weren't many (if any) his age for him to mingle with, but there were plenty of activities and things to do so its impossible to not have good time. If you are an art person and looking forward to the art auctions, however, this is not the cruise for you! I don't remember the head auctioneers name, but she was not interesting, the art she chose (repeatedly) was not well received, instead of interest growing through the cruise it dwindled... we were not impressed and walked away without buying a single piece. The bingo games were lively but the cards are rather expensive. The Adult Quest is a must, it was so much fun, we just watched and still laughed through it. The entertainment was good overall, their were a couple of acts that weren't great, but all in all it was very enjoyable! The gym has a meager weight selection and what they do have isn't in the best shape (plates were sticking, etc.), but there were plenty of cardio machines if that's what you are looking for. The casino was nice, we didn't win big, but how many really do? The shops were nice as well, you have to check out the daily specials, that's the best value. The food was very good! The wonderful thing about cruising is that if you order something that doesn't suit your fancy or just isn't quite up to par, just order something else, they are there to please and don't mind bringing you what ever you want... and will cut it up for you, too, if that's your wish. The Windjammer was great as well, plenty of selection to keep all of us happy. Our ports of call were Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. We chose to do the Cayman Pirate Adventure excursion in Grand Cayman, we were really looking forward to this, ready to have a wonderful time. We even went prepared with our very own eye patches and hooks! The experience was a bad one from beginning to end. Our family was the youngest on the excursion, there were a couple of other kids there with their grandparents, but mostly older people. This wouldn't matter except the entire entertainment they have planned for the ship is literally torturing its younger passengers. Our family was chosen for this torture! We supplied the "scrubbing of the deck while getting doused with 5 gal. buckets of ocean water" entertainment, our son was less than impressed with the dousing, but did survive. Then they decided to do the "pirate trial" where both my husband and brother were the trial victims. In this, they tie your hands together and have you hold ice through the trial's long winded entirety. They also put a neuse around your neck and pour 5 gal. buckets of ice water over your head repeatedly while publicly accusing you of all kinds of sexually perverse things. This successfully had our son in my lap in fetal position and me covering his ears. After the trials were completed, they anchored the boat and those who wanted to swim could, this was the best part. They allow you to jump off the top deck of the boat and walk the plank, and the water is beautiful! This is also when they open the bar to all for sodas and rum punch. About a half hour before it was time for us to go back to the dock, our son finally relaxed and played for a bit. Anyway, what could have been very impressive with a little work and acting on behalf of the crew ended up being something unbelievable and disappointing. Costa Maya was very nice, it is a small port with a free beach (just chairs, hammocks and sand, no playing in the waves), 2 free swimming pools, a hand full of shops and a couple of restaurants. It is a low key, beautiful island with lush forest that I'm sure is amazing if you go exploring. After Grand Cayman we decided we were done with excursions. So after quickly browsing the shops, we claimed our hammocks, got some drinks, laid back and enjoyed the good life! Cozumel has its great shopping, which is a must if you're a shopper, but once we were done with that we hopped in a taxi and, for $12 each way, we enjoyed Paradise Beach! It is a very clean beach with very clean changing rooms, bathrooms, and lockers. There is a 1-2 drink minimum but no cover charge or charge to enjoy the chairs, umbrellas, great ocean swimming complete with rafts, water trampoline, and climbing glacier. There are lots of boating things you can do, parasailing and such, for additional charges. It has a restaurant, shop, and bar as well... for the price I don't think you can beat it! Our overall experience was great! Excellent service, great food, great entertainment, plenty to keep you busy if you so desire, and excellent kids entertainment! The ship itself is nice, though older, it is well kept. The ports of call were good, just avoid the Cayman Pirate excursion! We loved being able to leave out of New Orleans, this worked out especially nice in that we didn't have to fly! We are addicted to cruising and will definitely cruise with RC again! We would not mind another on the beautiful Grandeur of the Seas, it was a low key cruise experience, very enjoyable!

Read More
  • New

Sep 9, 2006

Western Caribbean

We were scheduled to leave on September 10, 2006 for Bermuda on a 5-day cruise, but because of a hurricane we were informed two days prior to sailing that we would be visiting Nassau. Having no desire to go there, we were offered a $100 shipboard credit if we went, or a 75% discount of a future cruise if we cancelled. Understanding that we all have no control over the weather, we were put in a very difficult position when to my surprise I received

a telephone call 24 hours prior to leaving, that because of a rudder problem, we had to choose between canceling the cruise and receive a 125% credit towards a future cruise to be used within one year, or go (delayed) to nowhere with a 50% refund and 25% off a future cruise to be used within one year. We have plans for a vacation in May 07, and we’re booked on a transatlantic in October. There is no way we would be able to book another cruise within the next year, so we elected to go (between a rock and a hard place). We were told that we would depart at midnight on Monday. To me that is 1 minute past 11:59 P.M. Sunday evening. We boarded the ship at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday, and we didn’t even leave Baltimore until 4:00 A.M. on Tuesday. So, our 5-day cruise turned into a 3-day to no where, right into the swells and rain of the Atlantic. People were sick all over the ship, and many events were cancelled, and very little hot water...Cold showers are great (right!). However, we were pleasantly surprised by the service received onboard; the crew did indeed attempt to do everything possible to make everyone happy, with the limited services available

Read More

By Mike_CR

  • New

Jul 20, 2006

Western Caribbean

The ship may have been small, but that was better because it has a more luxurious and traditional feeling than some of the other big ships made by RCI. Also, while we were obviously about half the size of the Freedom when we pulled next to her in Miami, we had the last laugh in Cozumel when we could actually pull into port. In response to Dave, and others, you are totally right, Jennifer is an amazing waiter, and it was a pleasure to

have her serve us. Anyone who would not tip that woman is insane. Our assistant waiter, Vuszumzi or "Mini Me" was also a hilarious character who regaled us with poems. I also enjoyed Jose, our stateroom attendant. Also, all the complaints people had about the age of this ship were either resolved or unfounded, because the ship had no mechanical problems, and no delays whatsoever. The only thing making me leery was the extremely large dent in her hull, but apparently it was not any problem. The new captain, Captain Rob did a fairly nice job on his first cruise, but has this odd dry humor about him. He always started announcements by saying "This is your captain speaking from the navigational bridge." I guess he thought we might have thought he was hiding in his room. Overall, the cruise was wonderful, and aside from some boneheaded administrative mistakes, I am looking forward to another cruise on Royal Caribbean. Next time though, we wont be getting an interior stateroom.

Read More

By Mike_CR

  • New

Mar 30, 2006

Western Caribbean

The good stuff: The entire staff was excellent. Our wait staff, cabin stewards and bar waiters were all wonderful. They made the cruise. We also enjoyed the entertainment. The shows and musicians were very good. Overall, the food was good (...but, not near as good as on the Navigator of the Seas). The negatives: We did not like this ship. The bed in our stateroom was very uncomfortable. In our bathroom and in other areas of the ship, we

experienced significant sewer smells. We also found this cruise to have a very consistent presence of cigarette smoke. RCCL did not do a good job of enforcing the designated smoking areas. We ran into people smoking in the 3rd floor walkways, in the Windjammer and all over the common areas. We do not smoke and found the second hand smoke all over the boat annoying.

Read More
  • New

Mar 30, 2006

Western Caribbean

We went on this cruise with two other couples, one of whom has cruised with us many times and the other couple who had never cruised before. This was the perfect introductory cruise - a day at sea, followed by a great day in Cozumel, followed by another day at sea and then home. It is the perfect weekend getaway. The ship is as nice as we had heard, and the food was delicious. All of which brings me to this one point: I just read a

review by Dave, who traveled on Grandeur on March 6th of this year, and I noticed something that everyone should watch out for. We also had Jennifer at our table, and YES she is great at what she does. She brought us extras and made great suggestions. She ALSO told us, on the last night, that the people at the early seating stiffed her. She seemed quite upset that evening, but the assistant waiter was as happy as ever, which made us a bit suspicious. Now, after reading Dave's post, I am pretty sure this is a regular ploy of hers to get patrons to pass along extra tips based on sympathy. I doubt seriously that with her great people skills she would get stiffed twice in one month at the early seating. Just thought I would pass this along as something to watch out for on an otherwise great trip. It could happen on any ship.

Read More

By Dave_CR

  • New

Mar 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

I took this cruise with 7 other friends. I was in a Grand Suite 4 other friends were in Junior Suites on the Same level and two other friends were in a 3rd floor room at the front of the ship ( they booked really late.) It just so happened to be Spring Break and so about 70% of the ship seemed to be college kids. Not my first choice to have, but it didn’t hamper our vacation at all. EMBARKATION: Super fast since we were in a suite.

Total time from valet parking onto the ship was less than 10 minutes with no waiting at all. Even others that had to wait in lines had a short wait time. They really have this part of the process down in Tampa. Grand Suite #8012: The suite was fantastic. Tons of storage, extremely nice bathroom with double sinks, marble and tile finishes that far exceeded the same class room on Carnival Fascination. The balcony was very spacious and we held our Bon Voyage party there with 8 people all comfortably hanging out. One the third day I started to notice a musty smell and looked around and found a leak from the bathroom to the staterooms bedroom area wall. I called this in and within about three hours they had it corrected and cleaned. It was clearly something that had happened before so I was a bit disappointed that a real solution was not completed and rather just a fix up for the short term. DINING ROOM: OK - this part made this cruise my favorite ever. I have read how RCCL has better food than Carnival over all. I tend to agree in the dining room and I would say that the Windjammer was about equal to the buffet dining on my Carnival cruises. BUT - AND THIS IS A BIG BUT... We had the most amazing service ever from our wait staff in the dining room! I have always had great service on cruises but our Waitress, Jennifer and her Assistant Waiter "Mini-Me" at table 19 were amazing! Her service was fantastic and she had a great sense of humor. She told us what to order and what to leave on the menu. Several times she had plates made for us with jokes on them based on our dinner conversations with her - they were hysterical! She also didn’t wait for us to ask for a second of anything. She made sure there were several desert choices for us and if we were thinking about two different items she would bring both without our asking. She even would come to the line outside the dining room in the evening and escort us in to our table. Other people were all looking in awe wondering what made us so special. MANY MANY MANY KUDOS TO JENNIFER. If you are so lucky to get her you will be amazed! On the last night - the table before us at dinner ( all sorority girls) decided to stiff our staff on tips for the entire week. I was amazed and think that it is disgusting that someone could do something like that to someone who worked so hard all week. Our entire table had already said that we would be tipping her way over the recommended amounts since she was just amazing. We saw her the next morning at breakfast and she told us that she cried when she opened our envelopes and saw how much we had all given her and how appreciative she was. That made us feel good, but I really wanted her to have a great week with her extra gratuity, but sadly due to those stupid girls our expression of appreciation just made it a normal week for her. I hope those stupid little girls all flunk their classes in school this semester , it would be a little justice. I better stop before I get really mad. SHIP: The ship was quite nice. The artwork and furnishings were very attractive. I had read about stains on the carpets and did not find that to be true. I liked the flow of the ship, but I did feel that there was a lack of good bar locations to get beverages around the ship. They all seemed to be concentrated in certain areas. This made it a trip to go get soda or drinks from a room at the front of the ship. PORTS: Costa Maya was a nice stop. We took the Chacchoben Ruins tour. this 4 hour tour is a great way to see some ruins without having to take the long 8 hour trip to Tulum. Other than tours Costa Maya is quite touristy and the main area is quite small with an area of shops and a pool and a few bars. Cozumel was great as always. Got some nice spray paint art done, ate some local food further back from the tourist areas, and went on a snorkel trip for three hours. I always find it is much cheaper and better to take a tour like this once you get off the ship rather than doing the actual ship's tour. Our 3 hour snorkel for two was half the price of the ships and went to the same areas but on a small private boat with only 8 other people rather than a large boat with 40-50 people. We also went to Paradise beach ( a $14 cab ride for two people) and rented jet skis at $55 for a half an hour per ski. They let us ride for about 45 minutes though to it was a good deal in my opinion. ACTIVITIES: I got my friends to go to the game quest even though they were skeptical. They laughed themselves silly. We didn’t really go to any other shows. SPECIAL SITUATION: During our cruise there was a break out of GI Illness and several measures were taken by RCCL to make sure that it did not spread. I think they did a great job and all the staff worked 15 hour days to take care of us while some of the other staff were sick. They had to serve all food in the buffet lines, as there was no more self-serve once the illness broke out on the ship. This took a lot of man hours and was greatly appreciated. They also were constantly wiping down railings and public areas. Kudos to RCCL for controlling what could have been a very bad situation. Cruise Staff: As I said before our wait staff was amazing. Also, our Suite Steward, "Pretzel" was fantastic. It was her first time doing suites she told us. She was filling in for a sick staff member and usually did rooms much lower on the ship. It was uncanny how she just seemed to appear every time we needed something. She also made our vacation most special. She really worked so hard to make sure we were more than pleased every day with a huge smile on her face at all times! I will say that other than our dining staff and room staff the rest of the employees on the ship had no personalities. They never smiled and seemed in bad moods all the time. That was not so on my past cruises. I am not sure if it was just due to the number of hours they were having to work due to the illness or because they assumed they would be getting low tips from college spring breakers., but it didn’t stop us from having a great time, but it would have been nice to have seen more smiles around the ship. I would certainly recommend this ship and would take it again myself!

Read More
  • New

Feb 25, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was my 8th cruise, but first cruise on RCI. I have previously cruised on Holland America, Princess, Disney and Carnival. Myself and my two companions were very pleased with the Grandeur of the Seas. While the ship is now 10 years old it still looks great, with only minor “wear and tear” issues in the public areas. There is an unpleasant moldy sewer odor on the 4th deck! I cant believe they cant find a way to fix that. There were

also a few times on the ship in different areas where we got a wiff of that same foul smell. The same smell also seemed to get in our bathroom from the drain in the bathroom floor a few days. It was most noticeable when the bathroom door would be shut all night, the next morning upon opening the door you got hit by the smell! The use of white marble, glass and marble in the Centrium area gave it an elegant and timeless look and the abundance of glass windows always gave the ship an open and sunny feel. We boarded in Tampa and only had the stand in line for about 15 minutes. Check in was smooth, as we had done the online pre boarding check in. This was our second cruise out of Tampa and both times it was pretty quick and painless. Cabin We had a junior suite, cabin #7154, which was on the back of the ship. The cabin was perfect for 3 adults. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a small bath tub. I am guessing the bathroom was about the same size as in the other balcony cabins, but with a tub instead of shower. There was very little counter space around the sink, but plenty of shelves, tucked away behind mirrors on each side of the sink. There was a small fridge, surprisingly small TV, and a safe in the room. The best feature was the large balcony, which is larger then balcony’s of the JS cabins on the sides of the ship. It had 2 chairs, a small table and 2 lounge chairs with room to spare. While there are glass frosted dividers separating the balconies, you can clearly hear the conversations next to and above you. Thankfully the people on both sides of us rarely used their balcony. Our room steward Carlos did a great job keeping our cabin clean and neat, our bathroom was always spotless. He was happy to oblige with any special requests. Dining The Great Gatsby 2 level dining room is very attractive and has a variety of table sizes. Our waiter Vladimir was great, with a friendly and professional manor. Our assistant waiter who handled a number of tables in our area was a hard worker and very efficient. The head waiter for our area Geraldine, from the Philippines was exceptional! She went out of her way to make sure that all of the tables in her area were well taken care of. She knew our names after the first night and never failed to stop by our table, addressed us by name and made sure all was well. She even had a special dessert made for one of the persons in our party. The food was very good and we enjoyed all of our meals. This is coming from three New Yorkers who eat out a lot at some of NYC’S top restaurants! Our only complaint was the cheesecake, we have had many types of cheesecake, NY, Italian, no bake etc. but the cheesecake on the ship was truly awful! It was like a tasteless paste, made with a lot more flour then cream cheese. The other desserts were OK, the warm chocolate cake with a gooey center was a favorite. The chocolate crème brule served at lunch was also delish! We had breakfast in both the main dinning room and the Windjammer Café, the sips buffet area, nicely positioned in the front of the ship. Both were good with all of the standard breakfast offerings. At the buffet they have an omelet station where you can get fresh omelets or fried eggs. The only negative was the French Toast on the buffet which was always rock hard. In the dining room I had the Eggs Benedict which was good and did not taste like it had been setting in a steam table all morning like other ships. We ate lunch or afternoon snack in the Windjammer Café. I am usually not too impressed with cruise ships’ buffet lunches but I found the lunches enjoyable, with a good variety of food from curries to fried chicken with a pretty good quality. Not the leftovers from last nights dinner like on some ships. We did have lunch once in the dinning room, the food was good the service was not! Our waiter from Jamaica was grumpy and was not having a good day, which I have an idea he seldom does when has the work the lunch shift! The lunch menu in the dinning room does not change, however there is a daily special. The curry chicken special was delicious! Service in the dining room for breakfast and lunch is not at the same level as for dinner. It is open seating which means you are rushed in and seated with others, and you are rushed thru your meal rather briskly. It is apparent the waiters are not working for tips from their assigned dinners like at dinner, as the smiles and caring attitude seem to disappear. I have encountered this on every cruise I have been on, which is why I tend to avoid the dinning room for breakfast and lunch. Activities My favorite area of the ship during the day was the Solarium. This are is for guests 16 or older so there were no small children running around screaming like by the main outdoor pool. It is covered by a glass roof, so on a rainy day you can still enjoy the pool (saltwater) and 2 Jacuzzis in this area. There was classical music playing in the background, which lent to a nice relaxing area. The lounge chairs in this area are also covered by nice thick cushions, which was a nice touch. Also in the Solarium area is a bar, grill for pizza, hot dogs and burgers (never too busy) and the entrance to the spa. The spa area was very nice, and the gym area was on the second floor of the spa area. The equipment in the gym area was all new and just like in a top gym. The only drawback was that the area was a bit warm and stuffy and there was no music. I have never been to a gym where there was not high energy music playing for that extra “boost”. The men’s changing area was spacious, and clean with lockers, a nice sauna and steam room, neither very busy when I visited. There were also a few showers. I was surprised that there was only one pedestal style sink in the whole area, so after working out or getting a treatment in the spa there really was not an area with counter space and mirrors to fix yourself up afterwards. I am guessing that in the ladies area there must be a better set up. The casino was OK, typical cruise ship casino. They did not over promote the casino, it was there if you wanted to visit. You have to walk through the casino to get from the Palladium theater to the Centrium or upper dining room level, how clever of them! Entertainment We went to the 2 productions shows in the attractive 2 level Palladium theater. Because I am a frequent Broadway Theater goer I try not to compare cruise ship productions to the standard. However I must say that the 2 lead singers in the productions were outstanding. The shows themselves, one a Broadway review, and the other a Jazz review were a bit flat. There was a team of dancers who seemed to do a lot of the same simple dance steps over and over. The stage often seemed a bit empty by the small amount of dancers, fewer then I have seen on other ships. The cruise director, sorry forgot her name, was a nice change from the usual overbearing cruise directors, who repeat the same corny “cruise” jokes over and over. She seemed a bit more current and “fresh” then most I have encountered. Over all we were very pleased by this cruise, and I would certainly cruise on this ship again and recommend it to others. To me it is a perfect size, there were never long lines for anything, even though it was a sold out sailing. I look forward to cruising with RCI again.

Read More

By ADK_CR

  • New

Feb 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

We sailed off without a hitch from Tampa Florida. Our 5-night Western Caribbean cruise normally leaves from New Orleans, LA, but since Hurricane Katrina closed the ports there, Tampa is where you'll port until further notice. This was my first cruise so I was not sure what to expect nor did I have any pre-conceived notions of what the ship should look like. I thought the Grandeur was a great ship. It is big enough that you have lots of

space and it never seemed crowed except for the midnight buffets. However, we learned our way around the ship in about a day and a half; it is very easy to get around and not intimidating. The bar and dinning staff are the ship's best features. We found our dinning staff ready to bend over backwards for us and the bar staff was friendly. We went up to the Viking Lounge every evening for a pre-dinner cocktail and the bartender, Nike, immediately learned our names and what we liked to drink. Each evening that we came in, he greeted us with a smile and immediately got our drinks. Edwin, our waiter was impeccable. He had recommendations ready each evening and learned our tastes immediately. The assistant waiter brought my hot tea first thing each night. There was so much food to eat, it was utterly sinful. The food by the way is wonderful! Great work in the kitchen. The ship is clean, it does show some signs of age, like the cracked granite bar top in the Viking, but that is minor, especially for the great deal we got on the cruise price. The shows put on by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers was first class. I cannot rave enough about the amount of talent in this group. Do not miss their shows! You can't go bored on this cruise unless you really want to be bored. The event schedule is packed from morning to late night. My complaints are with our stateroom attendant. Just not up to pare, we put our dirty pool towels on the floor, as instructed, and there were taken, but never replaced (no pool towels at the end of the cruise results in a $25 charge per towel!) We heard about the towel animals and were left with 3, but then found out there is a whole herd of animals, so we should have had one for each day, not just 3. I ordered champagne and strawberries to be in our stateroom on departure day. I had to ask the purser’s desk about my order on day 2 of the cruise and when they were finally delivered, my personalized note was not included, and this was a bummer. My jewelry came up missing, and I still have received no response from Royal Caribbean though I have called twice and sent an email. Time in the different ports is short; we went scuba diving and had very little time to see Cozumel. In addition, you are tendered to shore in Cozumel because the piers are destroyed from Hurricane Wilma. This process of getting to and from shore takes up to 45 minutes EACH way, so a lot of shore time is taken away from you. My biggest complaints are with customer service after the cruise, my jewelry being stolen and our stateroom care. The cruise itself was fabulous, just wish I still had my jewelry. Oh yeah, on night 5, the sewer smell began, but not until the very last evening, guess the system was just full. Our stateroom was on the top, 8th floor, so we did not deal with the smell much except in the public area.

Read More
  • New

Jan 28, 2006

Western Caribbean

My family, My wife and I and two kids (7 & 8) sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas for five nights and stopped at Cozumel and Grand Cayman. This was our second cruise so there may be a few comparisons to our first cruise, which was on Princess. Let me start by saying that the Guest Reservation Specialist that we booked our cruise through made a very good cruise a little less enjoyable. After we booked our cruise she advised us to call

HER directly with any changes or other concerns. We did this four times with changes and questions and left four messages with our names, phone number, reservation number, and brief description on what we needed and she did NOT call us back one time. Also when we booked the cruise she asked us if we wanted 6pm dining or 8:30pm dining. We asked for 6pm and it was not available so we readily took the 8:30 dining. At no time did we request to change if a 6pm space became available. To our suprise when we went to dinner the first night at 8:30pm we were sat at a table but then had to be moved because we were given the 6pm dining and not told about the change. Another dinner problem was that when we booked the cruise, we were asked if we wanted to sit together as a family or at a large table. We remembered how much we enjoyed meeting people on our last cruise, so we asked to be sat with other people. This did not happen. We were put at a table for four. I have no idea if this was because of our younger kids or not, but nothing was mentioned of this during booking. Our specialist was Barbie Garcia at extension 30787. Avoid her at all costs!!! The cruise itself was very enjoyable. The staff, especially the wait staff, was much more friendlier then the Princess staff (although that might've been because of our kids). The food was extremely good in both the formal dining room and the buffet dining room. The rooms were comfortable but the furniture was a little dated and older looking. The beds were basically cots. Princess had real beds in their staterooms with much more comfortable mattresses. The room was far from dirty, but not nearly as spotless as the room on our Princess ship. The cleaning staff made towel animals for our kids every night and the kids absolutely loved them. The excursion we went on went very smoothly and both island stops went without a problem, even though they were both tender stops. The pool was nice although we were not happy that it was a salt water pool. Princess had a chlorine pool and my opinion is that they are much more enjoyable when pool swimming. Getting on and off the ship was much easier then Princess. We were on the ship in ten minutes and off the ship in fifteeen minutes. Not the extremely long line we had to deal with last year. Overall a good time was had by all except getting frustrated with Barbie, and we would probably cruise Princess again if we go on another cruise, but this is not because of Royal Caribbean being bad, as much as our Princess experience just being awesome.

Read More
  • New

Dec 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

I took this cruise with my 2 teenage kids as a Christmas present. Overall we had a good time, but I guess I am not a RCCL kind of person. EMBARKATION: Simple fast and very easy. The longest line was 20 min to get our picture taken for our sail and sign card. Tampa is a nice port and was very well laid out. ROOM: Outside was good enough size with a small couch and extra bunks that were tucked away into the ceiling. Overall the room

was smaller than a similar room on Carnival lines, but clean, and well taken care of. It met our needs rather well. TEEN PROGRAMS: My kids liked the activities that were avaiable, and made use of the ones that they were interested in. DINING ROOM: Overall very disappointing! Very slow service, food quality was very poor. Sent multiple deserts back to the kitchen uneaten because of their quality. Dry and crunch chocolate cake, poor taste and texture for the cheesecakes. Soups were just "weird". Meats were sometimes cold and overdone with no flavor. We were usually one of the first ones in to dinner and due to the service one of the last ones to leave. We sat at a table for 6. The Windjammer food was hit and miss. Some was great, and some was not. Breakfast was always good, other meals it just depended on what you chose. Some was overdone, or had little flavor, and other items were great. the hotdogs were fantastic and the solarium grill. 1/4 lb deli style, the pizza was frozen, and the burgers overdone. SHIP: Very well appointed but the layout was very confusing. I spent 12 years in the Navy and sailed on 5 other cruises and every where I went I seemed to be lost on this cruise ship. Just very confusing and not well designed. The artwork and furnishings were very nice. PORTS: Cozumel was great, really enjoy this port and had a great tour with Pelicanos Tours. 4x4 island tour and off road with a beach lunch and snorkeling. We booked this with the ship and it was expensive but we had a great time. I love the mexican people on Cozumel and we enjoyed spending some money there to help with the Wilma restoration. The island was hit hard and they are recovering but it will still take some time. Grand Cayman, we scheduled our own island tour and had a private tour for the 3 of us. We went to "HELL" and the Turtle Farm and had a good time. Tried to shop but GC is very expensive, save it for Mexico, unless you are shopping for jewelry or things like that. ACTIVITIES/CRUISE STAFF: Excellent. Play the game "QUEST" it is fantastic and lots of fun. The entertainment was good, (I prefer Carnivals shows) entertaining and worth the time since they were free. SUMMARY: I will try RCCL once again but this was my second cruise and I am not sold on them. Overall my experince with RCCL is far below my experiences with Carnival. I am going on my 3rd with Carnival next week. This cruise ranks #3 our of 6 cruises, and it will most likely be lower after next week. It was fun and we had a good time and got our monies worth, but the food was poor and the dining room service was slow and bumbling. The one bright spot in the dining room was the head waiter, she was fantastic, this is the first time I have tipped the head waiter in all my cruises. This was a 5 day cruise and the price was good, but next time I will try a larger newer ship, and if it isn't any better, it will by my last time on RCCL.

Read More
  • New

Dec 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

WHY THIS CRUISE? We have been on four cruises before this one—two on Royal Caribbean (Sovereign of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas) and two on Celebrity Summit. Our last two cruises were 10 and 11 day cruises. This particular cruise was a 5 day cruise on Grandeur of the Seas. The ports of call were Cozumel and Costa Maya. We had never been on a short cruise; the price was very inexpensive so we decided to give it a try. We purchased

our own airline tickets through AirTran. We always fly a day ahead of the cruise to allow for delays due to bad weather. (On one of our cruises, the weather was so bad that if we had flown the same day as the cruise, we would have missed the ship). This cruise left from Tampa. We found the terminal to be very nice. Embarkation was speedy and efficient. SHIP We cruised on the Grandeur in 1997 on her third voyage. We were anxious to see how she had fared since then. She is still a beautiful ship, although she is showing her age. One of the things we did not like was that the carpet in the public areas, such as stairwells, was spotted and dirty. We have never noticed this problem on the other ships. Aside from this, the Grandeur is still grand. We like the “brass and glass” of the Royal Caribbean Centrum areas. The Celebrity Summit had a more European look with more refined features. Both looks are elegant in their own way and would not cause us to choose one line over the other. We enjoyed the Viking Lounge on the Grandeur. There was an excellent view, great Pina Coladas, and a super bartender! DINING There are many dining venues available. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and dinner in the dining room. For dinner we sat at a table for six as we enjoy meeting new people on our cruises and always choose a big table. We were, as usual, pleased with the excellent quality of the food and the taste on the RCCL cruise. One of our disappointments on the Summit had been the bland taste of the food. The food on the Grandeur was far superior! Our waiters were fun and accommodating. Dining was always a pleasure. We have found that renting a tux is the easiest way to handle formal nights. The tux is delivered to our room. We don’t have to pack black shoes, a suit, dress shirts, etc. In addition, the tux makes the formal evenings seem extra special. CABIN We enjoy having a cabin with a balcony. On our first two cruises, we had Oceanview cabins, which were nice. But now that we have tried a balcony, we probably will always want a balcony. Sitting on our very own balcony and watching the world go by is our idea of relaxation! We have seen dolphins, beautiful sunrises, ships passing in the night, etc. from our balcony. We also have met some very nice “neighbors” while each of us was on our balconies. The only problem we have ever encountered is that on one cruise our “neighbor” smoked a cigar on his balcony and made it unpleasant to be out there if he was outside. EXCURSIONS: Our two ports of call were Cozumel and Costa Maya. We enjoyed both ports and all the friendly people we encountered there. On Costa Maya we took the “Chacchoben Mayan Ruins” excursion which we booked online. We wanted to see ruins, but didn’t want to take the excursion to Tulum, which was 6 hours long. This tour was about 3 ½ hours. The Chacchoben Ruins were actually as big as Tulum. The bus trip and visit to the ruins was very nice; the tour guide had much knowledge about the Ruins and enjoyed discussing them. We were impressed with the knowledge and abilities of the ancient Mayan civilization. There is a gift shop at the ruins and you can also buy refreshments there. When we were at Cozumel on our previous cruise, we went on the Catch-the-Wave Bond Adventure. It was a fantastic experience. This time, we decided that we wanted to tour the island and see not only the coastline but also damage done by Hurricane Wilma. The excursion was a tour of the island and shopping. (We booked this directly from the TV in our room.) The devastation on the island was so sad. Everywhere we went, islanders thanked us for coming. Since 90% of the income for Cozumel comes from tourism, our business was very much appreciated. The island government is doing a fantastic job of rebuilding. On this tour we also saw some Mayan Ruins. Our tour guide was excellent and she had a great sense of humor. At the end of the island tour, we were taken to the main shopping area. Many stores have reopened. We ate at “Poncho’s Backyard”. It was recommended by the tour guide and was a great choice. We would highly recommend it! TECHNOLOGY: This is one area where RCCL seems to be lacking. Celebrity excels in this department. Celebrity had a computer program where we could download the pictures from our digital camera and store them on their server. At the end of the cruise, we were able to burn a CD using these stored pictures. They also had web cams and our friends and family at home were able to see the ports we were at each day. There was also a web cam in the Internet Café. Through this, our family could actually see us in the Café. RCCL needs to bring their ships up to this level. We also felt their website needed to be more user friendly. DEBARKATION: On previous cruises, the process of debarkation had caused a stressful conclusion to an otherwise restful vacation. On this cruise, the debarkation procedure went smoothly. We had no problems finding our luggage. We had purchased a transfer from the terminal to the airport and that process went smoothly also. SUMMARY: We would highly recommend both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity for cruising. In fact, we have a cruise scheduled this fall on Radiance of the Seas. The ships are beautiful and the staffs are pleasant and accommodating. On this cruise, we paid the tips when we booked the cruise. We won’t do that again. We feel that it is more personal to be able to give the staff cash. Plus we can reward for good service and deduct if we are disappointed. Back to the cruise, we enjoyed our five day cruise and the price was definitely right. We are willing to try other cruise lines, but are hesitant because of our good experiences with RCCL and Celebrity.

Read More
  • New

Oct 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

First of all the Baltimore port was easy to find and boarding the ship was very well organized. We arrived around noon and were on the ship within 25 minutes. The staff and crew really were excellent. Decks 5 and 6 were easy to navigate and we never got lost one time. (some ships have partitions blocking the way or you can not access the stairs and elevators from both sides) This ship has a very good layout. The shows were good and my

favorite was a comedian that juggled on a ladder and then later rode a unicycle. This guy was funny. The food was good and plentiful. I read in another review that there was a charge for the ice cream. This is true at Ben & Jerry's. There was also free soft serve ice cream up in the windjammer buffet. (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla) around lunch time. They also scooped ice cream out of the round containers during the afternoon snack time. There was also very good ice cream available in the main dining room for dessert every night. All free except Ben & Jerry's. Enough said about ice cream. Because of hurricane Wilma we did not stop at Cozumel but we stopped at Georgetown in the Caymans. We did not stop at Coco Cay because of the weather also. It would have been impossible to board the tenders in rough water. But we did stop in key west for around 15 hours. Since they avoided the bad weather we had smooth sailing all the way. We also stopped at Grand Bahamas island and port Canaveral. I would recommend the sting ray city in the Caymans and the alligator, airboat ride at port Canaveral, they give you a generous portion of gator tail to eat and it is very good. We also saw 4 gators,2 of them sit tight and let the boat float right up to them. I have really only one complaint about royal Caribbean. I asked about leaving the ship early while we were in port at port Canaveral because of an emergency at home and they told me that I could but they would charge $300 per person. That is totally ridiculous. That was while we were docked at the port!) All in all I would recommend the Grandeur of the Seas. It is a beautiful ship with an excellent and very friendly crew. I will probably take this cruise again when they repair the dock in Cozumel. I have left out a lot of other good things about this ship but you get the idea. I would rate this cruise number 2 on my list putting Holland America's Zaandam as number 1 and Carnival's Miracle at number 3 (they are fairly comparable) and the Imperial Majesty's Regal Empress at a very distant and regrettable last place.

Read More
  • New

Oct 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review Western Caribbean Dennis Sheppard This was our 8th and 9th cruise with RCCL doing a back to back Bermuda / Western Caribbean. We had done back to back cruses before with RCCL and we were treated royally as they showed us they appreciated our business - alas such was not the case this time and we were very disappointed in the way RCCL is treating their loyal customers.

Thing started out from the start badly as they had messed up our dinner seating with the freinds that we always cruise with - this was corrected but only after a lot of complaining. Not something we like to do on vacation. Staff at the Pursers desk seemed to be inexperienced and under trained to handle any problems that were presented to them. Oders for items that were to be delivered to rooms were not filled - instructions were either late or incorrect. Generally there was the impression given that RCCL was interested only in the new cruisers and did little to show their appreciation of their loyal customers. We have always cruised in a group of 6 to 8 people or more - this cruise was somewhat disappointing - mainly from the administration point of view. At this point we are seriously thinking about trying RCCL's competition. There were good things about this cruise - the dining room service and food was excellent - the cabin was clean and kept well - but the attitude of management just did not stand up to our previous experiences with RCCL.

Read More

By Joe_CR

  • New

Jul 17, 2005

Western Caribbean

I thought it would be a good idea to have a teenager’s perception. This cruise was my sixth and I have done five with RCC. I have been on the Sovereign, Navigator, and Voyager (2X). This was my first time going to Bermuda and I was excited. This cruise was much smaller that the Voyager class ships but still beautiful. I drove to Baltimore from New York which took about four hours. Since my parents have Platinum status with RCC, we got

on the ship in hardly any time, but if you are new to cruising, the line was very long. Once onboard we toured the ships and waited to go see our rooms. Dining Room: My family went on this cruise with another family of five. We all sat together on the fifth floor and our waiter, Rajiv, from India, was spectacular. The food was good, but some of it was a little to ethnic. Dessert was great and the singing and dancing the waiters did to entertain us was amusing. Windjammer: The food in the windjammer was okay. Breakfast left a lot to be desired. I was bored of eggs and pancakes after day two. The omelet station line was huge and you had to wait twenty minutes for an omelet. Lunch was okay. Towards the end of the cruise we began to eat in the dining room which was much better. We only ate dinner there once and it was good, but not as good as the dining room. We only did this because we got back from Bermuda late. Pool: I personally did not use the pools because of the fact that they are filled with saltwater and crowded. There are little kids everywhere and they splash the water into your eyes which burns. Entertainment: I attend the Welcome aboard Show, and Farewell Show only. The welcome show was good because of the comedian. The same goes for the Farewell show. I regret missing Knight Magic which I heard was fantastic. I had no interest in going to the production shows because I have gone in the past and they are boring. Karaoke was funny to watch because the number of people that could carry a tune I could count on one hand. The Quest was a blast. It is an adult scavenger hunt where people will do almost anything to win a keychain. Overall the entertainment that I attended was great. Activities: After a day I started to become bored. The rockwall was hardly ever opened because of wind, ping pong is only fun for so long, and there was only two shuffle boards to play on which were almost always occupied. It might be that I have been spoiled by going on the voyager but I found a lot more time to watch the movies in the stateroom which included, Million Dollar Baby, Be Cool, Spanglish, In Good Company, and The Pacifier. Adventure Ocean-My brother, who is eleven, was at the kids club every night. He enjoyed it very much. However, when you get older, they start paying less attention to you and you have a lot more free time. Stateroom: My brother and I stayed in an outside cabin which was fine. The beds were comfortable and we could move easily except for the showers which were very tight. Our Cabin Steward was Anderson and he was funny and did a great job. Overall I give this cruise a 7 out of 10.

Read More
  • New

Jul 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

We cruise at least once or twice a year, and usually on Royal Caribbean because of the combination of quality and economy. We try to pick different ships each time and so we have experienced four different Royal Caribbean ships in the past three years. The Grandeur of the Seas was the least impressive of the four. This cruise was the first time we have ever faced a change in itinerary, although the change was small. Our stay in Bermuda

was shortened from 36 hours to a little under 22 hours. As a result, the cruise line promised us half off the “cruise portion” of our fare, and a coupon for half off another cruise. We departed Baltimore four hours late and endured a lifeboat drill right in the middle of our formal dinner on the first night. The best word I could use to describe the Grandeur of the Seas and its staff is “lethargic.” It seemed that, from the cruise director (Dwayne) all the way down to the waiters and room attendants, everyone was just enduring the task at hand rather than offering service with zest and excitement. This was particularly true of our head waiter and the dining room staff to which we were exposed. They seemed to just put up with the passengers rather than to serve them. For example, when the dining room staff “sang” to us on the last night (lip sync) most of them just stood there and waved. You could tell that they were enduring the moment rather than trying to enjoy it. In one particularly humorous moment, we were just inside the dining room right before the main seating in an attempt to change to the second seating. Someone came on the public address system in the dining hall and reminded all the waiters to “push the wine” as they were not selling enough of it on this cruise. The lady changing our table assignment whisked us out of the dining room and asked us to come back in ten minutes. She was then very helpful and we got what we wanted after a glimpse of the commercialism of Royal Caribbean’s dining facilities. The ship was in decent shape, other than the temporarily repaired 40 by 8 foot gash on the starboard bow just above the water line. That was received in Mexico about six weeks ago according to a crew member. The ship hit the dock because someone “misjudged currents or something.” The individual entertainers were good (we don’t attend production shows) and the quality of the food was fine, although we did not see any of the dishes that make cruising fun (like lobster, escargot, etc.). It seems to us that Royal Caribbean is all about money and will do just about anything they can to make a few more dollars off of you or to cut costs if they can get away with it. In the end, we would probably take this ship again as we live very near Baltimore and can drive to the dock in less than half an hour, but we must say that the senior staff on this ship would benefit all of the passengers if they could get their staff members to be a little more excited about what they are doing. It could be that what we really like the least is that RCL is so obvious about their attempts to make a little more money off of each passenger that their continual selling is detracting from the cruise experience. Between the lethargy and the commercialism I would say we will probably be shopping for another cruise line to see if another one might be more customer friendly.

Read More
  • New

Jul 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. We were on our honeymoon. I had read several reviews claiming this ship to be older and showing it before we left, but I was pleasantly surprised. Let me start from the beginning. As two other cruisers have posted. We had engine trouble and left late, and had a shorted stay in Bermuda. We got 50% of our money back and 50% off our next cruise. This was a great, great deal for us. We had heard from many people

not to expect a cruise to be the best way to see any of the places you port. So we weren't. When our trip was shortened, we did not care. We just wanted to be on vacation, in the sun, with tons of food, and people planning activities for us. And this is exactly what we got. I did not get the impression at all they they weren't putting in 100% because we got money back. Everyone was helpful and upbeat. No one during check-in seemed to know about the discount, but I asked the purser as soon as I got on board and he explained it to me. Again, it was a great deal!! The activities staff was amazing and upbeat. Another reviewer thought that they were "lethargic." That actually makes me excited to take another cruise. I thought that everyone was helpful, and overwhelmingly nice. And if they were not good compared to this reviewer's other trips, then I am am anxious to see other crews. We had a room on the 2nd deck with a window. This was the only room available when I booked the cruise. I would definitely not book a window room again. We got a deal on the room, but in the future, if I decide to upgrade I will go for the balcony. The window didn't make much difference to me, I'll save some cash and choose an inside room next. They were big enough for all our clothes and suitcases. The food was good. The amount of food was unbelievable. I never went hungry, not even in the middle of the night. The room service is a great thing for newlyweds. :) I loved never having to get out my wallet, or figure out the price of food. It wasn't the greatest food I ever had, but it was certainly very good, and I never had any complaints. The pool was crowded, but the ship was full. We expected this and got to the pool early. It wasnt any different than if we had gone to a resort. The shows were awesome. We loved having entertainment every evening after dinner. We had two comedians, a magic show, and two performances by the Royal Caribbean Dancers (a jazz and swing night and a Broadway Muscial sampler). I recommend going to all of them. Get there early, they fill up every night. Getting off in Bermuda was my only complaint of the trip. There was no help on how to get around or anything. And since our trip was shortened, this was very important. We waited in line for the ferry, bus, and taxi, (none of which we were able to get on) for two hours. We finally gave up and went back on the ship and bought a shore excursion for that night. We had already bought a shore excursion for the next morning, so we never made it out of the port. Again, we weren't expecting this to be the best way to see Bermuda, but it was have been nice to see a beach. If you need constant activity this ship had alot, but from other reviews, I see that we had nothing compared to other ships. If you want a vacation for an awesome value, abundance of food, and relaxation and don't care where your destination is, then a cruise is the way to go. We will definetly go on another one. We are going to try a bigger ship next time though.

Read More
  • New

Jul 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

My family and I just returned from the July 3rd 2005s ailing on the Grandeur of the Seas to Bermuda out of Baltimore, Maryland. RCCL has some issues with this vessel and it would most likely be in the best interest of all future passengers if this ship was taken out of service and refurbished. On our sailing, the ship had engine troubles. There is visible evidence of the damage she suffered after hitting the pier in Costa Maya on a

previous sailing. We were delayed leaving Baltimore and were informed that we could not sail at maximum speed to Bermuda because of the engine issues. This mechanical problem reduced our time in Bermuda greatly. We were scheduled to arrive in Bermuda at 8am on Tuesday and set sail at 5pm on Wednesday. Due to the engine problems, we docked in Bermuda on Tuesday at 2pm and set sail at noon on Wednesday. In all fairness to RCCL, they did a great job of quieting passengers by refunding 50% of the cruise fare if you choose to still sail knowing that the island time would be shortened. We decided to sail because we had been planning this family vacation for a year and days at sea are great way to pass the day! With all of that said, let me comment on some of the more common items people generally look for in a review. The Port of Baltimore is an industrial port, nothing scenic there at all. But RCCL does a great job getting you on and off the ship. Check-in went smoothly for us once we got to that point. When we disembarked in Bermuda, it seemed as though this was the first time RCCL had been there. There was no one at the pier initially to guide you on ferry and bus schedules. Because we were in port late, everyone was anxious to get out and explore. It was a little unpleasant for a while until an RCCL employee came out with a bullhorn and started providing information. We booked a Junior Suite on Deck 8. The room was plenty spacious enough for our family (2 Adults, 2 kids). The balcony was a nice size. The beds were the most uncomfortable beds we have ever slept in. The mattress on our bed was so thin and the bed squeaked every time you tossed or turned. The mattress on the pullout sofa the kids slept on was worse. I peeked in an interior room that pull down bunks and the mattresses on those beds seemed ten times thicker than what was on our beds. The room was clean enough, but the sliders didn't look they had been washed down in a while. For the amount of money charged for a Junior Suite (or any suite for that matter) you would think these cabins would be on a different deck. There is a tremendous amount of noise from the pool deck, which is right above. Our cabin attendant did a good job. In Bermuda, we did the Don't Stop The Carnival excursion and the Restless Native Catamaran snorkeling tour. Both were excellent and I would recommend either one. Service was pretty good all around the ship. Food was ok. Dining room staff really did a great job, especially with the kids. They brought them all types of food to try for dinner, which was great, because our 9 year old discovered he liked salmon. Bar service was good, although they had no Coors Light on board, even though they continued to advertise they did. Also, there were no limes for Coronas or any other mixed drink that required a lime. We finally got limes when we left Bermuda. Kind of odd. Spa service was good. We did a couples massage class and that was really great. Activities for the kids seemed to be geared for the younger group. The 6-8 year olds seemed to have a blast. Our 9 year old went to the evening activities, but preferred to hang out with us during the day at the pool. One thing I absolutely did not like was the $5 an hour charge for the nighttime party zone for the kids. It is completely supervised, but you must pay in cash. Our airline lost our bag with all of our formal wear, so this is just an informational tip, but you cannot rent a tux or buy a dress shirt for a child on this ship. They could have accommodated our 15 year old, but we opted to not go as formal as we had planned. Overall, we made the best of this trip. I would not rule out RCCL for future cruises. This was our 5th cruise with them and they really did a lot to ease the pain on our sailing. I wouldn't do this ship again. I would opt for a newer ship in the Voyager class. We sailed on the Explorer last year and it is a beautiful ship.

Read More
  • New

Jun 23, 2005

Various ports in U.S., Mexico and the Bahamas.

The Grandeur of the Seas Group Ship Stats: Maiden Voyage: December 14, 1996 Passenger Capacity: 2,446 Godmother: Aviva Ofer Gross Tonnage: 74,000 Length: 916' Beam: 106' Draft: 25' Cruising Speed: 22 knots I have decided to review this ship in it’s entirety or at least as many areas as I can access and photograph from Deck 11 heading across the deck and down to each floor from there. Deck 11 Midship

The Viking Crown Lounge Viking Crown Lounge This is a signature lounge on Royal Caribbean Vessels and is always a great spot to have a quite cocktail or enjoy some great dancing late in the evening. In the daytime it is a wonderful place to curl up with a good book and enjoy the spectacular sea views. The View From the Viking Crown Lounge Deck 10 Aft The Grandeur of the Seas Day Spa Reception Actually Deck 9 and 10 aft encompasses the Shipshape Fitness Center and Grandeur Day Spa. Our Fitness Instructor, Andrea The fitness center is not extremely large but certainly offers ample equipment to work out and enjoy yoga and spinning classes. The Fitness Center The views from the treadmill certainly helps to motivate a long run. The Salon Deck 10 around the ship The Rock Climbing Wall All the way aft on Deck 10 is the Rock Climbing Wall and along deck 10 you will find the jogging track and shuffle board areas. Shuffleboard Court Deck 10 Forward The Video Arcade This area of the deck features the Video Arcade, The Entrance to Adventure Ocean Adventure Ocean for the younger children and Fantasies for Teens Fantasies for the teenage guests. Deck 9 The Solarium (Seen From Deck 10) The Solarium The is another signature public area on Royal Caribbean vessels which offers a quite and relaxing area to enjoy the hot tubs and pool. The area is for adults only and therefore tends to be a bit quieter then the pool area on sea days. The Solarium Snack Area They also have food service where they offer hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries and pizza from 10:30am to 6:30pm and again from 10:30pm to 3:00am. There is also a full service bar in the Solarium that is open from 10:00am to 6:30pm/ The Main Pool The Main Pool Area The pool area is sufficiently large for the size of the ship and was a very busy place due to our sunny itinerary. There was a group playing music by the pool on and off during the sea days and on embarkation day. I always seemed to find a deck chair someplace even during the busiest of times as there are deck chairs and lounges also available on Deck 11 along the railing. The Pool Bar The Pool Bar is open from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Deck 8 The Internet Cafe Is primarily suites and cabins but mid ship you will find the Internet Café as well as the Crown and Anchor Study. The Crown and Anchor Study Deck 7 The Library This deck consists of cabins and mid-ship you will find the Library and the Card Room. The Card and Game Room Both are great spots to get away from any crowds. Deck 6 Aft moving forward The South Pacific Lounge The South Pacific Lounge is located on Deck 6 and is the location for the Captains Welcome Aboard Reception, the Crown and Anchor members party and many of the activities that are enjoyed on the ship. It is a lovely and very large public room. The Schooner Bar The Schooner Bar Is located on the starboard side of the ship and as always is one of the NACTA Members favorite hang outs. Hanging Out in the Schooner Bar Piano entertainment is available during the evening hours and a full bar with great service and ambiance awaits you there. Singin in the Rain The Singin in the Rain Lounge This lounge is located on the port side of the ship directly adjacent to the Schooner Bar. It is an area that features a couple of wide screen TV’s that show CNN and sports cable channels. It is a rather quiet area and I noticed many folks simply found a seat to enjoy the views and read a good book. Entrance to the Conference Center The Conference rooms are also in this area and there are four meeting rooms that are well equipped with all the necessary meeting facilities. One of the Meeting Rooms in the Conference Center Photo Gallery The Photo Gallery The photo gallery is located about mid-ship on Deck 6 adjacent to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Bar and Lattetudes Coffee Bar Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Bar Shops on Board The Perfume Shop There a good variety of shopping venues such as a jewelry store, logo store, perfume store, liquor store and another shop offering a variety of items. The Gift Shop It was a busy place much of the cruise, especially on the days at sea. The Palladium Theatre Entrance to the Palladium Theater This is the main venue for the shows on board the ship and is actually on Deck 5 and 6. It is a great size theatre and offers good views from most all seating options. The Palladium Theater Deck 5 Aft to Forward The Great Gatsby Restaurant On deck 5 and deck 6 aft you find the main dining room on the Grandeur, the Great Gatsby. It is a beautiful dining room. Our tables were on the 4th deck and we had some lovely views from the window next to some of our tables. The waiters, assistant waiters and head waiter in our area of tables were just terrific. We were treated royally by each of them and we enjoyed making new friends with our servers. Picture of Dining Room I must mention one person that really stood out in the dining room and that was one of the head waiters, Eric Nelson. It is uncommon on so many ships to see a head waiter involved in serving passengers along with his staff but Eric does. He was so very attentive to the needs of the tables in his area. On many ships you do not see the head waiter visit your table till it is time to look for the tips and or gratuities. Not so with Eric who was there to greet us each evening and to see to the needs of his passengers. His service and attitude toward the passengers is to be commended. The Shore Excursion Desk Continuing along Deck 5 you will find the Pursers Desk and the Exploration Desk The Casino Royal Casino Royal Is located just past this area and features plenty of gaming fun for gambling enthusiasts. Slot Machines in the Casino Royal Deck 4 The Staff in the Champagne Bar The Champagne Bar This is one of my favorite spots on the ship and is located on Deck 4 midship. It is a great little lounge where you can enjoy the entertainment offered nightly by the string quartet in the center of the ship Deck 3 and 2 are primarily cabin decks and deck 2 is often used as the deck for departing the vessels at the ports of call. Beginnings I arrived in Baltimore the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel which is 5 minutes from the BWI airport. They offer a free shuttle service from the airport. The following morning I shared a transfer with a couple of our group members and we arrived at the port quite early. Actually, I believe we were the very first to arrive. We had anticipated a longer ride from the airport area and it is actually only about a 20 minute ride. Pic of checking Luggage We were able to check our luggage with the porters and proceeded to go through the check in process. It as very efficient and we were allowed to board the ship around 11:00am which was great. We were not able to head right to our cabins as they were still in the cleaning process. However we were free to explore the ship and enjoy the luncheon buffet in the Windjammer café. Cabin 2116 Pics of cabin Mario, My Cabin Steward - The Best! We sailed from the Baltimore Harbor at 5:00pm on our way to the first port of call on Sunday which will be Grand Bahama Island. Just Clearing the Bridge Leaving Baltimore I am escorting one of our NACTA Seminars at Sea and we have 40 people in our group for this 9 day cruise. Our first group get together was at 7:15pm in the Viking Crown Lounge and the view was terrific. After the party we headed down to the Great Gatsby dining room where we are all seated in tables of 8 and 10 so we can enjoy our networking and camaraderie. Dinner was delicious and most of us were pretty tired and called it an early night. Saturday, June 25, Day Two Day at Sea Today was a day at sea and our first seminar session. Tracy, the group coordinator on board the Grandeur had the meeting room all ready and prepared for our 3 hour session. The meeting went very well with the exception of some increasingly high winds causing some folks to not feel too great as the day wore on. The afternoon on board the ship was pretty rough and rainy from time to time. The ship seemed pretty quite as many folks hunkered up in their cabins for a nice afternoon nap. The seas began to calm at about 3pm and I enjoyed a great workout in the gym and a spinning class that had me really worn out by the end. This was the first formal night on the ship and the Captains Welcome Reception prior to dinner. As the captain on a ship normally does he was prepared to share with those at the party more details about where many of the passengers were from. There were about 9 countries represented however the preponderance of passengers where from the U.S. and mostly from the east coast. The number of passengers from Maryland was without question the highest and the crowd cheered the fact the RCCL leaves from their home port of Baltimore. The Grandeur is certainly fulfilling a much needed demand by sailing from Baltimore and they should be applauded for their focus on this market. It was obvious that the passengers from Maryland and the surrounding areas certainly appreciate this commitment from Royal Caribbean. Dinner was wonderful and much fun was had by all. Wine flowed and the escargots were fantastic. Some of the group went to the show in the Palladium Theater and some of us headed off to karaoke. It was great fun and the karaoke participants were really very good. I think all of us plan on going back for the finals of the contest. Sunday, June 16, Day Three Grand Bahama Island Today we docked in Grand Bahama Island at about 2:00pm and were scheduled to be n port until 7:30pm. The morning weather prior to the arrival in the Bahamas was beautiful and a very welcome change from yesterday’s in climate weather. My destination on the island was of course to find an internet café. The ship docked at the Grand Bahama Harbor which offered a variety of services. Since we arrived on a Sunday some of the stores and services were closed. The internet café right at the port was closed and I headed with a group of our members out to Port Lucaya Market Place. Lucaya There are two main shopping areas on the Island, the International Bazaar and the Port Lucaya Market Place. We had been told that the International Bazaar had been damaged during the last hurricane and many of the services had not yet been rebuilt so we opted for Port Lucaya. It is about a 20 minute drive and the cost is only $5.00 U. S. per person. Since our driver informed us that gasoline here is about $2.69 a gallon the price of $5.00 is really very low for such a distance. Lucaya Beach The Lucuyan Beach is where you find some of the major hotels and the Sheraton Hotel is located right on Lucuyan Beach. Our Lucuya which is an all-inclusive resort is also very close to the shopping area. There are several nice jewelry stores, linen stores and other services at the market place. There was an internet café that charged $5.00 for 15 minutes and since I had brought my laptop with me off the ship I was able to connect using my own hardware. I purchased the all day pass so that I could work as long as needed and the cost was $20.00 for a 24-hour period. The benefit of course was that I was able to download needed files from my email and have them right there on my computer. We headed back to the ship at about 5:30pm and enjoyed the pre-dinner show at 7:00pm featuring Revolution, A Tribute to the Beatles. It was a great show performed by four Beatle look-alikes and sound-alikes. I have seen Rain on other Royal Caribbean ship which is a similar program. It always seems to be a big hit on their ships as people really enjoy the nostalgia and the great music that the performance showcases. As in keeping with our plan in the dining room, our group of agents move from table to table among our area each night so that we can meet and enjoy conversation with all of our agent friends. The wait staff at each table where I have dined has been great. We have several different waiter and assistant-waiter teams and they have all been very accommodating and the service has been terrific. The Maitre-d is also very attentive and has been helping the waiters out each night. He has impressed us all as he is working with his team which is obviously a key to the success of the service offered on the Grandeur. After dinner this evening special event was the 70’s Disco Inferno party up in the Viking Crown Lounge. There was a special performance by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers with a “Tribute to ABBA” and “Not Exactly the Village People.” This was certainly the hot spot of the evening and there was standing room only. It was pretty crowded so I watched the dancers for a few minutes and headed to the internet café to finish up the days work. Tomorrow we are in Coco Cay. Monday, June 27 Day Four Coco Cay, Bahamas The Coco Cay Dock We arrived in Coco Cay at about 7:00am and tendered just off the island. The tender service was very efficient as the tenders that are housed at Coco Cay are large and carry about 300 people. I had not been to the island in a number of years and was amazed at all that is offers for the passengers. The island is well maintained and offers an incredible number of services and venues for people to enjoy the day. The Beach at Coco Cay There are a variety of beaches to enjoy all equipped with lounge chairs, bars, water mats to float on and the list goes on. Just about any beach activity you can imagine is offered on Coco Cay. They have snorkels and fins, parasailing, jet skis, a water slide, catamarans and the list just goes on. Certainly there is no lack of available activities to enjoy for the day on Coco Cay. Coco Cay Activities We had great weather upon arrival and only late in the afternoon did the clouds begin to float in. This was probably a good thing as the intense sun made for some pretty sunburned passengers. I had signed up for a yoga class on the beach and about 9 of us met at the spa and then tendered over to the island. We found a quiet beach and enjoyed a very relaxing and challenging yoga class taught by Andrea the gym instructor. If you are a yoga enthusiast, I really recommend you participate in this activity. Coco Cay The rest of the day I spent enjoying the sun and exploring the island with my handy camera. I returned to the ship at about 2:30pm and spent some time in the internet café catching up on emails. A few of us enjoyed the very challenging spinning class at 4:30pm. The show this evening was a pre-dinner production show by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. The show was entitled My Romance and those who attended the show shared that it was really wonderful. We all enjoyed another great dinner in the Great Gatsby. The evening late night entertainment was Country Night in the South Pacific Lounge. Tuesday, June 28, Day Five Key West, Florida We arrived in Key West at about 6:30am and due to the need to go through passport control each passenger had to show their passport and or identification along with their sea pass card to U.S. Immigration officials. The lines were very long however and some of the passengers were very irate about the long lines. I however felt that the crew did the best they could based on the fact that only a few officers were there to check thousands of passenger’s documents. We were all able to disembark the ship by 9:00am. It was a beautiful day in Key West and I headed down Duvall St. to the Starbucks in hopes that I could get wireless service on my laptop through Team Mobile Hot Spot. However the Starbucks did not offer the service. The manager there told me that just behind at the La Conch Hotel one could access their service in the lobby. The La Conch which is a Crowne Plaza property is beautiful hotel and I was able to work for several hours there with no cost to me at all which was quite a find. Some of us met up at Sloppy Joe’s which is a famous watering hole in Key West for lunch and then we headed back to the ship. We had to be on board by 2:00pm for a 3:00pm departure for Cozumel our next port of call. Abigail (NACTA’s Manager) and I planned a surprise birthday party for her mother who was traveling with her on this cruise. The entire group of 50 of us were there and she was certainly surprised. A good time was had by all and we enjoyed a dinner and a bit of late night dancing in the Viking Crown Lounge. Wednesday, June 29, Day Six Cozumel, Mexico The Grandeur of the Seas Docked in Cozumel We arrived and docked at the International Pier at about 10:00am right on schedule. This is not the closet pier to downtown so it is about a 10 minute cab ride at about $5.00. The weather was beautiful and I decided to walk in to town which is about a 45 minute jaunt. I have done it several times and really do enjoy the nice walk along the waterfront. I found an internet café about half way to town and stopped to work for a few hours. A group of our agents had planned to meet at the famous Carlos and Charlie’s for lunch. I joined them and then headed out to do some shopping for our next seminar on the 30th. As is pretty common for Cozumel, there were about 4 large ships in port so there were a great many passengers strolling the streets of Cozumel. Some of the members of our group opted to go snorkeling and scuba diving with the ships program and said it was just great. Other members went off an enjoyed the beaches of Cozumel. We even had a few adventurous souls who rented jeeps and toured the island. They raved about doing this so I hope to give that a try on the next visit to Cozumel. We departed Cozumel at 7:00pm and enjoyed a great dinner once again. The headliner show was a magician by the name of Tyler Knight with his assistant Mistie. As always these types of magic shows just astound me with there talent. Thursday, June 30, Day Seven At Sea Today we had our second seminar session in the conference facility from 9:00am to 12:00pm. The seminar was great fun and we all learned a great amount from one another. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the ship and the many activities that are available on board during a day at sea. Some of us rallied yet again to participate in the Spinning class which has become a daily tradition for about 3 of us. The instructor Andrea is just fantastic and motivates us more and more during each class. We all walk away exhausted but in a great way. Thumbs up for Andrea as she helped us ward off some of the Calorie Demons of Cruising. Our group met for cocktails and then headed to the Centrum for our scheduled group photo. Following are some shots of our group having a great time together in the Schooner Bar. Note the ladies shoe shots! Great fun was had by all. Insert Group pictures and Shoe Shots Tonight was formal night and lobster was served in the dining room which was a real hit as always. Some of the party people headed to the disco and others to the casino and other venues available to enjoy on the Grandeur. Friday, July 1, Day Eight Port Canaveral The passengers have to clear U.S. Passport and Immigrations Control before the ship is cleared for the day. While the process was a bit hectic and unorganized in Key West it was very efficient and well handled in Port Canaveral. I purchased a tour to Cocoa Beach that was $32 for roundtrip transportation to the Holiday Inn on Cocoa Beach. There were a number of us who took this tour. The overall opinion was that it was really not worth the money and we would not recommend this option. It was called Fun and Sun and most of us felt just sharing a cab and going to a better resort would have been well worth it. The Holiday Inn is really more like a motel then a resort and people were rather disappointed with the services there. I visited the famous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop in Cape Canaveral and bought some gifts for my surfer husband and son and then headed back to the ship. The weather turned pretty stormy at about 2:00pm with the typical Florida summer weather of late afternoon lightening and thunder. Evening options included the a headliner vocalist and entertainer Bobby Arvon as well as the ever popular Quest Game that RCCL does on most of their vessels. Later in the evening many enjoyed the 50’s & 60’s Rock ‘N Roll Dance Party. Saturday, July 2, Day Nine Day At Sea Today was our final day at sea and I had big plans for an exercise type of day. I started out the day with a yoga class taught by Andrea. It was a wonderful and relaxing way to start the day. The weather was perfect and the pool deck was a busy place from early morning to late in the afternoon. Our spinning group met again for an afternoon class and had great fun yet again challenging each other to work hard. Pic of Andrea Fitness Instructor We had planned a final cocktail party for the group so that we could all exchange business cards and enjoy one another’s company for one last evening. We had some great fun sharing experiences about our last 9 days on board the Grandeur. Sunday, July 3 Arrival in Baltimore, Maryland The ship experienced some mechanical difficulties early in the morning on Sunday which caused a delay in our arrival in Baltimore. Captain Svein Steinmoen came on the ships intercom at about 7:00am to inform the passengers that we would be arriving late and that they would assist those passengers with flight re-arrangements. They had a letter explaining the situation on each of our doors. They offered to reimburse up to $100 per person for needed airline changes. They gave us the name of the contact to send our receipts to in the Miami office. I thought this was a very nice offer. I was able to call Southwest using my cell phone and reschedule my flight to San Diego. They let passengers stay in their cabins until 11:00am which was great as I was able to finish this review and get work done during the delay. Conclusion Our group really enjoyed this cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. The crew and staff aboard the vessel are more than accommodating and the nine-day cruise went by far to fast. The ship is clean and very efficiently run. It is a great itinerary for families traveling during the summer from the east. There were a great number of extended families traveling together on this itinerary who were having a great time. I would certainly recommend this that live in the surrounding Baltimore area who prefer to drive instead of fly and take a wonderful trip on a tremendously maintained and operated ship.

Read More

By Jen_CR

  • New

Jun 23, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise on Grandeur and with RCCL. We traveled with my parents, sister, and her boyfriend and were able to get dining and rooms together without any problem. We found the staff to be friendly and most helpful. Examples: Our safe's batteries were dead and our room steward brought maintenance up right away. Another example was when our phone went dead, they had another maintenance man in there in about 15 minutes. The

only disappointment on this trip was the tour in Grand Bahamas Island, but even then RCCL came through for us. It was the 3.5 hour "Highlights, Shopping, and Beach" tour. When we boarded the bus, the driver took us on a 1.5 hour tour of all of the subsidized housing where he honked the horn at his buddies and waved. The description advertised going to Port Lucaya, the International Bazaar, and Tranquility Shores. When we got to Port Lucaya, after learning that we had an hour there to shop, we asked about the International Bazaar (our main reason for signing up for the tour) and were told it was destroyed in the hurricane. Because of the misleading description and the lack of a tour, we filed a complaint with RCCL and got a 50% refund. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing, until the end on the last night where an engine broke. My husband and I were thrilled...more time on the boat! Others were a bit irritated. Our waiters were terrific. Vladimir had 3 or 4 tables, one of them with about 10 children. He managed to make all of us feel as though we were his top priority while keeping the little ones entertained with his sense of humor nd magic tricks. GIVE THIS MAN A RAISE! The food was always delicious and we were able to sample items on the menu we had never tried before (I LOVE to cook and we had a chef in our group as well). There was a variety each night to please even the most discerning palates. The entertainment was fun and plentiful. Dance lessons of different genres were offered throughout the week, the most fun being the line dancing the first day out at sea with an especially rocky boat! There was Karaoke, Rock-i-oke, games, arts and crafts, wine tastings, demonstrations, basically something for everyone. Parking yourself on a lounge chair with a mango tango was a relaxing option as well. All in all it was a fantastic cruise and we would love to sail on Grandeur a third time. Keep up the good work, RCCL staff!

Read More
  • New

Jun 9, 2005

Western Caribbean

Having read some of the previous negative reviews here on the Grandeur, I wondered if I was on the same ship! To summarize, my husband and I enjoyed our cruise and felt that, overall, the cruise line and staff did a great job. Everyone we encountered on the cruise echoed our sentiments. So I think the nay-sayers are a definite, if out-spoken, minority. We especially enjoyed the convenience of sailing out of Baltimore, which isn’t far

from where we reside, saving us the cost and hassle of an airline connection. PROS: Boarding; convenience of the port; service, especially in the Great Gatsby and in our stateroom; the “drink of the day;” weather (OK, RCI had nothing to do with that, but it may help you choose your cruising week); stateroom layout; Windjammer breakfasts; adult swimming pool; our excursions; the casino. CONS: Having to pay extra for soft drinks and ice cream; slow and sometimes baffling elevators which should have stopped at our deck but didn’t; cigarette smoke blowing into our stateroom from another stateroom (not RCI’s fault – we just hate smoke); having our first formal night’s photographs lost by the photography staff after wasting 40 minutes in line to have them taken. We arrived for boarding early and were able to get on the ship quickly and painlessly around noon. However staterooms weren’t ready until closer to 2PM, but they fed us a buffet lunch, which I didn’t think they owed us since we were on board prior to the announced time. We used the remaining time to begin to explore the ship. Our stateroom, though not huge, I found to be very efficiently laid out. I especially enjoyed the floor to ceiling corner shelf where I kept most of my non-hanging clothing. We each had a small nightstand with small drawers at our bedsides. We love to read in bed and would have liked brighter bedside lighting, but with the general room lighting added we had enough light to read by...it just meant we had to get up one last time to douse the lights. I also liked the large mirror over the desk area, which had side panels that opened to reveal more shelves. The desk area also housed several drawers and larger shelves, as well as the safe and TV. I liked the safe, which operated by swiping any credit card, not by having to program a number as some I have used. You could order movies on the TV; there was no movie theatre on board. The closet had ample hangers and both long and short hanging areas, with yet another set of drawers within. I used them for items I wouldn’t be needing again, such as souvenirs and my growing shooter collection. Our veranda was small but adequate. Our stateroom was extremely well attended by Darna. Stateroom attendants left adorable towel animals in the rooms on several nights; sometimes they even donned our sunglasses! It always gave us a chuckle when we returned from dinner to see one waiting for us. There was a demonstration near the end of the cruise for those who wanted to learn how to create these creatures. We gave the food mixed reviews. We always had decent meals in the Great Gatsby, but I expect gourmet food in such a grand setting. I thought the chef was far less creative than on our previous two cruises. I would have enjoyed more French saucing, more authentic foreign flavors, more innovation and fresh herbs in the presentations. One night I ordered the turkey dinner and it didn’t taste much different from a TV dinner. We did enjoy our beef choices, lobster tail, the Caesar salad and the desserts. The breads, though good, were rarely served warm, and never with unusual butters. I loved the “shooters” which were offered with dessert, a different one each night served in a different color cordial glass. Our wait staff did their utmost to keep us happy. They tried to anticipate the menu items we would enjoy most and always sent us off with a happy and contented feeling at the end of the meal. On previous cruises we would always end up ordering breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Not so on this cruise. First, the breakfast and lunch menus in the Great Gatsby were the same every day, save one special. Second, the views from the Windjammer were wonderful – I spotted diving dolphins one day at lunch. Third, the Windjammer had chefs cooking up omelets and eggs to order. But I wonder why this cruise line has not heard of Splenda. They offered only the old, awful tasting sugar substitutes. We didn’t take advantage of all of the stage shows, mainly because they were often before dinner, but those we saw were on a par with other cruise lines. On previous cruises they would always follow dinner, which is a more pleasant format for us. We prefer to enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset before dinner, and did so from the Viking Crown lounge most nights. There was a stocking snafu, however, and some of our mixed drinks were made from poorer mixes by the end of the week. We enjoyed the nachos with toppings in this lounge, but again, they ran out by the end of the cruise. Cruisers could always pick up fries (excellent), burgers and pizza in the solarium pool area to tide them over to the late seating if they wanted. We enjoyed this pool because there were many children on board, and this area was limited to age 16 and over. So it was a pleasant area to read or swim, although we would have preferred to have the ceiling opened (it never was) during the beautiful Caribbean weather. We really enjoyed our excursions. We took the scuba lessons on Grand Bahama. Cococay was beautiful with great snorkeling and the cruise line did a wonderful job of feeding all those beach-goers an ample and varied lunch with grilled fare. The island is home to many iguana, to the delight of little boys and those who enjoyed feeding them their leftovers. We both enjoyed the ruins at Tulum and the snorkeling at Xel-Ha. Our guide, Luiz, was full of good humor. We heard that other passengers really loved the dolphin encounters. We preferred to explore Key West on foot and had some fresh seafood at a bar overlooking the marina, where I was surprised to see a dolphin dive a few feet away from us. At Cape Canaveral I took the Merritt Island Wildlife Sanctuary tour and had an excellent and very well-informed guide. Highlights were spotting alligators and manatees. But most people on this excursion were starving by the time we were returned to the ship, and since we had had breakfast at 7 and weren’t back until 2PM, they were begging the driver for a fast food stop as we left the sanctuary. A tour of that length should have offered a box lunch. My husband did the NASA tour but the terrorists have spoiled that for us; he was frustrated by the distances that had to be maintained for security reasons. With our late seating, we didn’t really feel much like doing much else later at night, but there seemed to be parties and dancing enough to please just about everyone on board. Those with early seating enjoyed the late night buffets. The children’s programs did a wonderful job of occupying all those kids. As for ship maintenance, this one looked just about right for its age to us. Overall, we’d be happy to sail with RCI out of Baltimore again, especially if they improve upon their dining room fare.

Read More
  • New

Jun 9, 2005

Western Caribbean

I went on a Carnival cruise last year, I spent half as much and had twice as much fun. Royal Caribbean is supposed to be better than most cruise lines (NOT!) All they do is charge extra for everything! Carnival had free soft serve ice-cream. Royal Caribbean expects you to buy Ben & Jerrys for $4.00 Carnival had much better service than Royal Caribbean, the staff seemed to be bothered by the guests. We had problems with one or 2 excursions

and the guest relations people could care less. In Cozumel the " Deluxe beach break" is a joke! The beaches are soo crowded you can't move, the water was dirty, and the food was terrible. Also there were party boats dropping people off on the beach throwing up from too much alcohol. All I can say is that Royal Caribbean was a huge let down. I will not use them again. As a matter of fact they made me not even want to cruise again. If you price an ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT you'll find it to be a better deal in the long run. If you read this and cruise with Royal Caribbean anyway, you'll wish you had listened!  

Read More
  • New

Jun 4, 2005

Western Caribbean

Our cruise was set to visit Bermuda. We arrived at Baltimore on the 5th. It was a dreary day and the ship was large and overwhelming in the port. We boarded and went to the Windjammer to wait for our rooms and to relax and eat. We toured the ship and were immediately pleased with our choice. The most memorable part of the trip for me was dinnertime. Our waiter was Habib El Abed, he was just like one of our family by the 2nd night. He made

dinner worthwhile each night. He knew all our names, knew when we would be calling for room service at 4am and even had food ready to come to our rooms. He even invited us to his home in Tunisia to visit him on his vacations. I think we made his work more fun, as he made our trip more memorable. I cannot forget Hernando the bartender in the Schooner Bar. I met him on the 1st night, had a 20 minute conversation with him and for the next 4 nights when I did not show to the Schooner Bar he always seemed to ask where I was. Not just myself but Hernando asked about each person in my group by name when they did not show to the bar. People like Hernando and Habib make the cruise stand out in my mind.

Read More
  • New

Apr 24, 2005

Western Caribbean

Our cruise was scheduled for April 23rd but due to the fact that the captain was unaware of the loss of a anchor he wrecked the ship into the dock at Costa Maya. This delayed our trip by two days and limited it to a 5 day cruise. Full refunds were offered but a last minute change in our plans was not possible. As a result we settled for the $300 stateroom credit which did not cover the cost of the two days we had lost and decided to make

the best of it. Unfortunately, the best was not very good. The smart half of the people cancelled their trip therefore RCI cancelled half of their entertainment (really fair to the rest of us). The entire staff had a chip on their shoulder and whenever there was any complaint the patented response was "you could have gotten a full refund". Upon boarding, our room had not been properly cleaned with half filled bottles littering the dresser and a dirty towel in the corner. I understand that they had little turn over time to get us on but they were not accommodating when I informed them of the open bottles and asked that they not be billed to me. In the dining room, 5 requests for a soda finally brought the result after my child had finished his meal. Due to the fact that our trip was shortened we were not offered Costa Maya or Grand Cayman. We went instead to Key West, hugging the coast the entire way. Close to the coast we had terrible weather, rough seas and a lot of sea sickness to go with it. Our one sunny day.. Cozumel! We booked an excursion but due to the tardiness of the tenders (ours actually hit the dock?!), we missed it. Back on board they stole yet more of our time as we had to wait in line to get the refund, and without a "we apologize for the inconvenience". I also found out that RCI, when a previous trip was shortened to 5 days due to a hurricane, offered a $500 stateroom credit and 50% off of your next cruise. How is it that a trip foiled by an act of God gets fuller reimbursement than one foiled by a mechanical error and the ignorance of a lost anchor??!! I mean, I didn't slam their boat into the dock! Last and most offensive thing: Safety. Now, most of us who have been through the routine one time are not overly concerned with the safety drill. However, as we were on a boat that suffered a 42 foot long hole and was patched with a thin piece of metal, I took it very seriously this time. In preparation for the drill I attempted to secure a toddler life vest. I told housekeeping, the pursers desk, various room stewards, etc. 8 requests over 44 hours and still not lifejacket for my 3 year old. My last attempt at the pursers desk brought two replies "you might want to sit down because it may take a while" ( I had refused to leave without it) and "You could have cancelled". Finally, after a call to the Florida Coast Guard and one to RCI headlines, we got the vest with only 2 more hours of our cruise wasted by the cruise line itself. In a nut shell: We were charged for a 6 day cruise (reimbursement for the loss was not prorated), received a 5 day cruise, had rough seas, poor service, lots of attitude, one day of sun on which we were late to our port and missed our excursion. We will NEVER go RCI again. As a matter of fact I've scheduled a NCL as a "make-up" cruise as my RCI experience brought me home more frazzled and stressed out than when I left for my "vacation". Ocean Adventure: Despite the numerous problems we had, my son thought the trip a smashing success. We could not even get through dinner before he would ask to go back. The programs were innovative, the staff well trained and truly caring towards the children.

Read More
  • New

Apr 2, 2005

Western Caribbean

This ship needs an overhaul! We had cruised on the Grandeur out of Baltimore in September, 2004, during the midst of hurricanes Frances and Ivan and had a wonderful time due only to the friends we met onboard. This cruise was very mediocre. I’m sure my expectations were too high, but many items still ring true six months later. New Orleans is a WONDERFUL location from which to embark. Check-in lines were very short, if even existent

and we were whisked onboard without any delay whatsoever. The Julia Street Port is right in downtown and the taxi drivers actually know where it is (compared to Baltimore, where we had to stop twice for directions). The port is literally ‘attached’ to the River walk market, so last-minute shopping is most convenient. The ocean view staterooms are comfortable (be sure to try and get on deck 3 or above for better windows) and there’s plenty of storage space for clothes. Avoid mid-ship near the elevators – it gets noisy when trying to take a pre-dinner catnap with all the folks coming and going to the dining room. Bring an iron! Because of fire hazard, RCCL does not provide irons and setting up a makeshift ironing board on the vanity chair with a hand towel over it is well worth saving the money to have all of your clothes pressed by the ship. Breakfast and Lunch – unless you want to be waited on, just go to the Windjammer buffet for both breakfast and lunch. Be patient for the made-to-order omelets – they’re definitely worth the wait rather than the standard pseudo-scramble in the chafing dish. Lunches are good, but be mindful of ‘leftovers.’ Often, something that didn’t ‘sell out’ at dinner the night before is ‘re-created’ into something different for lunch the next day – often faintly disguised in some mysterious sauce. At lunch time, food is not re-stocked immediately, so you might have to go back a second (or third) time if your favorite wasn’t available (oh, darn! another opportunity to eat!). The burgers, hot dogs, pizza and fries in the Solarium are fine to kill a craving or to tide you over (if you have late seating dinner), but they’re certainly not remotely gourmet. Unless you’re a kid, avoid the ice cream in the Windjammer at lunch. I don’t know what it is, but it certainly is not anything close to any soft-serve ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my life. A new addition since September is the Latte-tudes coffee station and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream bar (additional cost). I’m not a coffee drinker myself; however, our friends with us said the free coffee available outside the Windjammer was just fine. Dinner – sigh – what a perfectly good waste of an hour and a half. Pretentiousness seems to be the focus here rather than food quality. Presentation is great, however, that’s about the only thing I would say is ‘great.’ Vegetables are not consistently cooked – some are literally cooked to death while others may be practically raw – on the same plate! Be sure to speak clearly and enunciate when ordering a steak or prime rib, as well. Countless times at our table, ‘medium rare’ was heard as ‘rare’ and ‘medium well’ was heard as ‘well done.’ Pasta dishes are quite tasty, though it’s kind of difficult to screw that up. First-time cruisers: remember to order anything and as much as you want! There’s rarely a time in your life that you can order 3 appetizers, 2 entrees and 3 desserts for dinner and walk out without paying! Food is rather bland, however, so keep that in mind when ordering something you expect to have some zing, such as the Jerk Chicken on Caribbean night. With that said, however, avoid having dinner in the Windjammer if there are any staff members eating there at the same time. The Windjammer staff pays attention to them, not to the paying customers. It took practical begging to get water and we had to clear our own plates so we could have dessert. Dessert – an ounce of pretension is worth about an ounce. Stick with the cookies and ice cream. Most everything else is tasteless and is more ‘pretty’ than good. The Ship – although generally in very nice condition, some of the ‘little things’ grated on me – especially since they were in the same state of disrepair as in September ’04. Many deck chair frames are chipped and/or peeling of finish; mold or stained mystery something exists in the Solarium pool; windows on the pool deck are very difficult to open. Generally speaking a feeling of ‘dinginess’ is how it can best be described. Also, it could use a good dusting more than once a week. The Staff – generally really really great. On the whole, they are very kind, polite and attentive. Be aware that some of the junior staff are sometimes more focused on trying to do their job and have a tendency to, for example, keep on barreling by with a cart with passengers walking by rather than waiting and allowing them to pass first. Drinks – if you are a big soda drinker, invest in the unlimited soda pass. But ditch the cup – it’s a pain to pack around and you can still enjoy unlimited soda without only the sticker on your SeaPass card. Also, avoid the ‘welcome aboard’ drink. At $7.95 per, it’s a killer (and not that great) first dent in your SeaPass account. However, if you are a regular bar patron, find a bar in which you feel comfortable (my favorite is the Schooner Bar) and make friends with the bartender. Also, try the ‘drink of the day.’ What have you got to lose other than $3.95? Shops of the Centrum – go for it! Have an extra hand to bring home liquor – buy it! $10 for a bottle of Absolut is just one example! Watch for the sales, however. Some items go on sale later in the week, so you can sometimes save some money by waiting. Ports of Call – Cozumel – 2nd cruise in a row there and still plenty of options. Xcaret is a favorite! Horseback riding is overpriced to see some fake ruins, but the ride is nice and the horses are not the ‘follow-the-leader’ types one can encounter. Grand Cayman – This was a VERY busy and hectic port. We counted EIGHT other ships in port at the same time, so all the area around the tender location is insane! Hell – a bunch of cragged limestone rocks and a gift shop – been there done that – not going back. Turtle farm – you actually get to hold one! Nautilus – neat to see the shipwrecks from the comfort of a semi-submersible. Costa Maya – An interesting port built entirely for cruise ships. Ours was the only one to make it in due to rough currents, so we had the entire village. Beachfront (no beach swimming, though) with a huge saltwater pool, beach chairs and restrooms – all free. They have free folkloric shows, as well. There is plenty of shopping, too – everything from the requisite jewelry to handicrafts – bargaining only in the handicrafts section. Caution: drinks and food is VERY expensive here. Kohunlich Ruin Excursion – supposedly neat, however, NO WHERE on RCCL’s site or in the mailed-to-your-home information packet does it say that you spend 5 of the 7 hours of the excursion on a bus!! We canceled and just hung out for free at the port. Lastly, at all costs, avoid spring break or any month near spring break!! With spring break in our area long over, little did we know that we would be onboard with 600 (yes, six HUNDRED) loud, obnoxious, ill-mannered, disrespectful teenagers. Many of them took more than advantage of the 18+ drinking age at sea and were, therefore, even worse than normal. Many staff didn’t even attempt to enforce the shoes-and-shirt policy in the Windjammer to these beasts. They ‘invaded’ the bars getting their soda-with-the-sticker so much so, that it was often impossible to get something to drink. Families – I’m not a parent myself, though I have heard nothing but absolute RAVES about RCCL’s Adventure Ocean program for pre-teens. I have seen kids onboard begging to go back for more and not wanting to go hang with their parents. All in all, I WILL cruise with RCCL again – definitely. But, next time will not be on the Grandeur – been there, done that, over it.

Read More
  • New

Mar 5, 2005

Western Caribbean

My husband and I were first time cruisers. We were not sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised by the service we received and the care and upkeep that was constantly being done to the ship. I am a clean freak and most things met up to my standard, my husband is a lot more laid back and did not mind or even see most of what I mention here. The outside deck chairs could have been cleaner. The looked like they had not even been

hosed down for a while. There are people cleaning up garbage that gets blown in the wind but not enough. Especially on the windy days it seems garbage is always on the outside upper decks. Some of the carpeting in the public areas as well as in the stateroom had stains, as did some of the chairs. The public bathrooms were always clean and well kept as was the bathroom in our stateroom. However our shower could have been cleaner. The floor had some mildew and it seemed as though they did not clean above a certain height. Sheets and towels were always clean and well supplied when needed. Our room was checked twice daily and things were always neat and tidy when we returned. Sometimes there was a sewage smell in the main hallway or when opening a toilet but nothing major. We had the larger interior stateroom and were glad that we booked the larger room. Next time we will probably opt for a window as it is hard to wake up in a dark room. Storage space was ample and we had enough drawers and shelves. The only difficult thing was getting stuff out of the suitcase as there really is not a good place to set the suitcase and unpack or pack. We were worried that the three days at sea were going to be boring, but it was just the opposite. We had plenty to do and the Cruise Director, Tom, was great! He was everywhere and kept the activities fun, upbeat and he is quite funny. The shows were good, guest entertainers were great. We laughed so hard one night we were crying. Plus we obtained quite an addiction to trivia when on board as it was everywhere, in the library and during activities. One item for those who have not been on a cruise before is that the Windjammer has food and drinks available most of the day. Don’t buy bottled water to use on the ship, just get water, tea or lemonade from the Windjammer. The bottled water in your cabins is also cheaper as there is no gratuity included. Our itinerary included Cozumel and we did the Tulum excursion which we really enjoyed and then had time to explore and shop in Cozumel. The ferry from the island to the mainland can be rough. Several people were sick and on the return we found there was an open second floor which was much more comfortable especially on such a beautiful day. The second stop was Grand Caymen. We anchored early but were unable to enjoy the time as we had scheduled the Land and Sea tour. Although the turtle farm, Hell and the semi-submersible was great, too much time was wasted on the tour, showing the devastation left by Ivan. Would suggest spending time on own on the 7-Mile Beach, going to the turtle farm and Hell on own and having time to explore the shops and maybe rent a bike. The water was too inviting and we did not get the chance to enjoy it as it is a distance from the dock and we had to be back by 4:30 p.m. to catch the tender back to the ship. Tendering was easy and fun. The third and last stop was Costa Maya. Nice because it was a dock and we could get off the ship at leisure. Good shopping but not much more to do unless you book an excursion or don’t mind being in the pool or on the beach the entire time. We took the Dune Buggy excursion, which was scheduled much too late 2:30 p.m. The fishing village was nice to see but the 10-minute stop was not necessary. The drive to the next beach was long about 1 hour over dusty, bumpy road. Beach very nice but arrived at 4:00 and only had an hour to spend time. The return trip was by “highway” and then dirt road through another fishing village with children begging as we went through. An eye opener but not necessary. Got back to dock just as the sun was going down, but too late to shower and change before the main 6:00 p.m. dinner. Did more shopping and had dinner at the Windjammer. I much prefer dinner in the Great Gatsby. Lunch and breakfast fine at the Windjammer but liked the food and service better in the Gatsby. My husband and I are not fussy eaters and were very happy with everything we had except one dessert, which the waiter did try to warn us against. Several nights our meals included two main courses and two desserts. It is a miracle we did not come home weighing more. Overall a great experience. We are now hooked on cruising and would defiantly book another Royal Caribbean cruise.

Read More
  • New

Feb 19, 2005

Western Caribbean

My first cruise. We went with another couple who like us, had never been on a cruise. I did a lot of research on the internet and eventually booked through a travel agent, mostly because of her knowledge and experience. Ship - From the very start we were impressed by the ship. It exceeded my expectation. It was ornate with wood and marble. We quickly discovered that we could feel a great deal of movement because of the waves of the gulf.

My wife put on a motion sickness patch for just in case. It seems in her particular case the patch made her feel ill and blurred her vision. She removed the patch and her vision cleared the next day and she felt much better. No more problems for the rest of the cruise. State rooms - Our rooms were kept very clean and made up twice a day. The couple we traveled with did not have the good service we did. They noticed that only the bed was made and not much other attention to detail made. The rooms were small, with lots of storage. I did not feel especially crowded. Other reviews noted a sewer smell on the lower decks and state rooms. I found this to be true. There was a hint of odor in the hallways of the 3,4 and 5 decks the day we departed and I awoke to as serious sewer smell the next morning. My wife says she could not smell it. The couple we traveled with avoided their state room on the second day because of the foul smell. I reported it twice and was told they would look into it. From the 3rd day on it had mostly gone away. I asked a few other passengers on lower decks if they noticed and they all said no. This was probably the only note worthy complaint of mine. Loved the window! Food - The food quality ranged from average to excellent. The service in the main dining area was exceptional and friendly. I resented having to pay $42 for a soda card and could tell the bar tenders were hoping for a tip, which I did a couple of times even though gratuities are part of the card price. I soon accepted that we paid $84 a couple so we could have cola and had a good time. Steak, lobster etc. every night helped me forget about the soda cards! Entertainment - The entertainment was very good and was every where. We were never bored and spent a lot of time in the Solarium hot tubs ( 16 yrs or older ). The pools were salty and cold, the hot tubs nice and warm, somewhat crowded from 10am - 6pm. Since the weather was great you were hardpressed to find a lounge chair after 8am. Met a lot of nice people. Noise level - there were a few states that had winter break which attracted families with kids out of school seeking off season prices. Therefore there were lots of kids running around. They would run the halls and stairs non-stop which you could hear from your state room. I had brought a Sleep mate ($40) with us that makes a rushing air sound and it masked most of the corridor activity. We slept well every night. The kids obviously had a great time and were mostly just being kids. Cozumel - The nicest port. The little shops by the pier are cheaper than any place on the whole cruise. However, the gift shops on the ship seemed a better bargin for what they had as the days went by. Cabs are fairly inexpensive. We went to Chankanaab (pronounced; shock-n-knob) and snorkeled (great snorkeling), then to downtown Cozumel for shopping. Great picture opportunities. Grand Cayman - The water was surreal in color and we found it to be a nice port quickly rebuilding from Ivan. We took a trip to Stingray City and snorkel with Capt'n Marvin. Was worth the $35 pp. The shops are basically American prices. Tender boats were no problem for us. Costa Maya - Cool looking port with pushy Mexican shop keepers. Very high prices. We took the Chacchoben ruins tour which I enjoyed. My fellow travelers did not like it because what should have been a 3 hr trip stretched to 5 hrs, leaving no time for snorkeling at that port. We booked through RC and had a nice modern air conditioned bus. Overall - I like Royal Caribbean and would definitely cruise with them again. I like the Grandeur of the Seas too, but would book higher to decrease the chance of the smell incident. I assume it is a problem they will eventually conquer. The weather definitely played a part in our lovely experience. For the money spent I feel it was a great value. They really do try very hard to pamper you. I tipped some of the attendants above suggested because of their efforts. Hope to sail again with RC.  

Read More
  • New

Jan 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

First, let me say that we had a Wonderful Time! The Grandeur of the Seas is a beautiful vessel and the service was outstanding. I highly recommend a Royal Caribbean Vacation and we will take more. This review is going to concentrate not on the things that you have read in other reviews, but on items that were not in other reviews. I will also cover issues relating to Divers, as my wife and I are certified divers. Transportation –

Recommendation that is fun and very cost effective. Limos. For example, you can just use Google search engine and type in New Orleans Airport Limo and you will get a plethora of responses. We selected Elegant Limos. We had five people in our party and were met at the airport with a placard. We got a porter and never touched our luggage and had a wonderful ride to the quarter. Cost $45 plus $15 tip for a total of $60 – that was less than the airport shuttles and we got a stretch! It really started the vacation nicely. New Orleans – If you are going out of New Orleans then PLEASE take time to enjoy the city. You can book inexpensive hotels in the quarter from Price line or Hotwire for $60 a night. Acme Oyster House – awesome. K-pauls restaurant excellent and they now take reservations (Chef Paul’s place – with the spices… you know him, trust me.) Breakfast at Brennan’s – a must once in your life. And Commanders Palace up on Washington. Grab the Trolley off of Canal that takes you right up to Washington in the Garden District for $1.25 each. Commanders Palace for dinner is pricey. But lunch…. $13.95 lunches AND quarter martini’s (yes… twenty five cents) during the week. It was our best and cheapest meal. Take a horse drawn carriage ride off of Jackson square for $50. Enjoy yourself. It was a great way to launch our vacation – wind down and relax and get ready for our cruise. Boarding the cruise line – Our cruise left at 5pm and we were there at 2:15pm for boarding – about an hour earlier than everyone else…. We walked right up to the counter, walked right up on board, went to our cabin, and proceeded to go get a frozen drink and watch everyone board and listen to music…. Was painless! Sea Sickness – okay, I didn’t think I really got sea sick – but I did – and I tested the theory. Go with the Patch – its prescription so get it early. Put it behind your ear and you feel no nausea. I lost mine once, and went a day and a half without it – figured I didn’t need it. I got sick and sleepy – put on the patch and was fine ten minutes later! Why risk not enjoying your vacation for $20 worth of medication. Dining Tables – if you requested a special table or request – go ahead and find the dining manager right away. We had requested a small table for the five of us at the early dining – we ended up sitting at a table of ten, and it was too late by the time we went and asked to be moved. This is one of the few disappointments of the trip – but a small one. Alcohol – okay, I searched and searched for the answer to this question, so let me set everything straight for everyone! You do NOT need to smuggle in alcohol. Go to the duty free shops, buy your alcohol, and pay the $9.50 per bottle to take to your room – otherwise they hold it for your departure. The fee you pay for the bottle in your room is still cheaper than if you bought the bottles in new Orleans and smuggled them on. (I think I got a bottle of Kettle One vodka for $17! Tanquarey Gin…. $12.50 a bottle – you get the point). You can stop by any bar and pick up tonic and lime! Kids Programs – The Adventure club was awesome. Our daughter is seven and rarely requests to be in the kids programs on our travels. Her favorite line on this trip was “what time is it?” She loved it. The staff was unbelievable. Every one of them was degreed in leisure or psychology. Their late night program is from 10pm to 1am – its babysitting for $5 an hour and the kids love it – it was great! We always spent time with our daughter each day during breaks and swam and played games, but in reality, she had her own vacation and great time. Tipping – with cruises you have to tip. No worries. Use your sea pass card and fill out the early tipping sheet, and it just automatically puts it on your account and you get vouchers to put in the envelopes. You don’t have to worry about cash at all. Cabin Selection – you will hear a lot of … your not in your room much…. That is a cop out for cheap people that have never had a balcony. We paid I think $200 per person more and got balcony deck seven. It was WONDERFUL to wake up, have coffee and sit on the patio and read. It was our own private sanctuary to read, play cards, and enjoy the ocean view. Next time, we will probably pay yet another couple hundred to have a larger room. It just made it much more enjoyable. Extra Spending – okay… here’s the shocker…. Alcohol is NOT included, nor are soft drinks. You can purchase an unlimited soft drink card for $28 for kids and like $42 for adults. You get unlimited soft drinks then. Worth the price – otherwise, you pay for every drink. Everything you do has a cost… drinks, photos, special souvenir glasses, shopping, excursions, travel in the towns, etc….. so just plan on an additional $1,000 for these expenses. I think ours was $1102 and that was tips, spa, drinking a lot, and shopping. However, it is a LOT less than Disney World! This actually was one of our cheapest vacations I remember with everything, and we lived well on vacations and didn’t cut anywhere. Make sure you use Amex or a credit card with enough limit, otherwise you will get tense and dread that call to the guest relations desk. Excursions - We went to Cozumel, Grand Caymans, and Costa Maya. Cozumel – there is a dock. We landed at the International Pier. The required junk shops are there. Very tourist oriented. This pier is right next to Aqua World. We landed at 7am and got right out there. We wanted to go deep sea fishing. However, the fishing excursions off of the boat were expensive. As are the dives. We booked on the Internet a couple of weeks before departure and got a full half day for $400 – we prepaid it and could use Amex. We got picked up and were off within 10 minutes. Great time. If you are a diver, you are getting in early enough to catch the early morning dive boat at Aqua World or Aqua Safari. If you book directly, you will save about $35 a person. You have to be back on board by 3:30pm or so, so if you are diving or deep sea fishing, you don’t have much time to spare. If you are not doing that kind of excursion, then take the $7 taxi and go into town. Carlos and Charlie's is a must. The Shrimp Bucket is also there and has some of the best shrimp and mango margaritas I have had anywhere. There is a golf course in town as well at the country club. If its not too hot or raining, it’s a nice course. Grand Caymans – okay, our least favorite port. British run. It doesn’t have that fun, care free feeling the Mexican ports have. Very stringent. It looks like a movie set on the front end. The diving excursions were $110 each, so not having been there, I’m used to grabbing a dive boat, for $50 a piece… not here. We did NOT take the excursion, so we had to get a tender ticket….. not a good idea. This is not a dock, this is a tender port. That means that little boats have to haul you to shore and back. We were cleared from port at 9:45am , 15 minutes early. People that booked excursions got the first ferry. To make a long story short… we got to shore at 12:30pm – almost three hours after getting cleared. There were no dive boats. My wife and I had lunch, shopped in about ten stores, all identical, and got back on board. Now, my daughter went to sting ray city, and it was great. She had a wonderful time with her aunt and uncle. So, the moral to the story… here you want to book excursions. Costa Maya – this is a dock. There is a port oasis right there. Shopping, drinking, swimming, beach, snorkeling… but all created just for the ships. The bus is $3 a person and taxis are $2 a person to take you into town. There were no diving excursions supported by the ship. But there was the familiar dive booth getting off the ship. And great prices - $70 for a two tank dive. The bus took us into the town which was dirt roads and lots of small shopping stores under canopies. Nice people. Good prices. The goods in town were less than half the price of the cruise port shops. Now, for the diving. Have you seen Captain Ron? My wife and I kept waiting for our dive master. We were waiting for the 32 Hatterus just like the last twenty dives my wife and I have had. Guess what… our dive master pulled up in a thirty year old ford, got out the equipment from his trunk, and then we proceeded to walk over to the small Pirates of the Caribbean fishing row boat and trolling motor. We went out about 1000 yards, put on our stuff and got to roll off the back of the boat just like in the movies. First time doing the backwards roll bit…. We figured that if the air was good (the tanks were up to date), and the Regulator was ok, we would survive. It was a nice dive. The dive master was always with us. Some beautiful reef. The dive master had been diving there for twenty three years. It was a great time and a good dive. Even though it violated the first ten safety rules of diving, it was an experience that we would not have missed. We shopped and then went back to the cruise port. We swam, sat at the bar and drank margaritas until the ship whistle blew. Staggers up the dock and got on board. It was a great port. This is a great place to dive or just enjoy the beach. Still take a trip into town and shop. Departing – Well, don’t get in hurry. We had breakfast, played cards, didn’t get tense. If you are flying Southwest, go up to the Internet Lounge and print out your boarding passes! We got group A. Got off the ship, called the limo back to the airport. Internet and business – On deck eight was an internet lounge for $.50 a minute. If you don’t have to work, don’t do it. However, if you must, no worries, you have good high speed internet. Summary – we will be back. Next time, we will get a small suite rather than just a balcony. My wife and daughter had a wonderful time. I got to read and relax. We talked to a lot of people that have cruised before on Carnival and others, and they all said that the Royal Caribbean was their favorite. Next time, I think we will try the Voyager of the Seas, one of their new mega ships with ice rink and golf simulator….. isn't technology great! Steve, Lonnie, and Jordan Williams  

Read More
  • New

Dec 4, 2004

Western Caribbean

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 slighly 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 Promanade deck but it was not open on our sailing which was a bit dissappointing. 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, RCL 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, jetski 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 quick 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 a 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 lounges 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 kids 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 AM - 11:45 with a break for lunch and 2 PM - 4:45 with a break for dinner and from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM 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 PM - 2 AM and is $5 per hour. Kids can also dine with other kids at 6 PM 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 palm's read and sampled beignets. I wish I had allowed more time for a carraige 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 RCL 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 More
  • New

Nov 22, 2004

Western Caribbean

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 2 ½ 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 Café 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 4:00pm. 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 6:00pm is too early for me. So, we found ourselves wondering by the Windjammer buffet around 7 to 7:30pm. 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 café, 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 café 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 café 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 café 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 loosing 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 C Ds, 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, sun glasses 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 More
  • New

Oct 14, 2004

Western Caribbean

As you can see I have taken a lot of cruises, 20 on Princess, 9 on Celebrity,1 on Royal Caribbean in 1989. I am so sorry it took so long to come back but back I am. I have already booked for next year on the Grandeur. I did it right on board, which is something I never do. What does that have to say, plenty,  believe me. Where to begin? Our cabin was spotless, we had a jr. suite and our cabin steward could not do enough

for us. The food was way above average. Tom Canosa, our cruise director was just so, so great and his staff well just an extension of him, just great. The entertainment was the best I have seen or heard in a long time. Lorna Luft )Judy Garland's daughter) was so great, I just don't know what to say but great! I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Every night's entertainment was beyond what I expected. Kudos to Royal Caribbean! Princess lines take note, its time to shape up as our last 2 cruises were not so great. The Grand's food was sub par, to say the least. Wake up! p.s. this is the first time I have ever given a cruise review.

Read More
  • New

Sep 3, 2004

Western Caribbean

First, I'll give you the good points, but then please read the rest of my review to understand why I returned disappointed with my vacation (the first time I've ever been disappointed with any type of vacation!). GOOD: The wait staff is great. You couldn't ask for more. GOOD: The food, in general, was good, varied, and bountiful. The late-night chocolate buffet and the magnificent midnight Grand Buffet are not to be missed,

even if you just go to look. We didn't actually eat at any of the late-night events, but we did take pictures of the ice and food sculptures in the Grand Buffet. GOOD: The children's program was outstanding -- in 9 days, I barely saw my 10-yr-old who normally prefers family time with us because he often choose to stay in the kids' area and participate in their activities, even at mealtime. GOOD: The ship itself was very clean, attractive, well designed, and easy to navigate. GOOD: Our balcony stateroom was enough space for the three of us, including our luggage, although drawer space (if you're the type to unpack) was tight and it's difficult to maneuver a large suitcase around the cabin (if you're the type to keep your clothes in the suitcase during a trip). GOOD: The spa rivaled anything on land for massage, facial, or nails. I live in a major metropolitan area, but I had the best manicure of my life while on the Grandeur. Both service and products were top of the line. GOOD: The casino was open during the day and late into the night. GOOD: Bingo. I don't normally play, but it wasn't just old ladies and the bingo staff made it fun. GOOD: The entertainment. The resident piano player was talented, fun, and knowledgeable in every genre without being cheesy. The production shows were way better than I expected when I reluctantly agreed to attend them. Guest entertainers were total pros. Movies (on the TV and in the ship's theatre) were relatively recent and varied. Satellite TV was generally good in content and reception. GOOD: Daily newsletters, delivered the night before, were well-organized and easy to understand to keep track of the day's events. Now the BAD: Royal Caribbean is an anomaly to me. Some aspects of their operations were top-notch; other things left a terrible taste in my mouth. Please note that I have no complaints about inconvenience caused solely by weather. We booked this cruise with full understanding of hurricane season, and we left port knowing that Hurricane Frances could cause us some foul weather, delays, or port substitutions. I don't blame Royal Caribbean for the rough seas or the number of people who got seasick (including my husband and son). I do, however, have several concerns about things that Royal Caribbean could control -- things that detracted from our vacation and things that seemed so contradictory to their obvious effort to provide quality service -- stupid things that I'd forgive with a fledgling company that was still trying to work out "kinks" in their system. I'm not sure that I can forgive such dumb, distracting oversights from a company as established and seemingly reputable as Royal Caribbean, so I'm not sure that I'd ever cruise with them again. For example, upon arrival in our balcony stateroom, we found a bag of trash, left from the previous guest, in the closet while the rest of the room was spotless and prepared correctly for our party of three (husband, wife, and child). Mealtime brought other contradictions. Evening meals in the main Great Gatsby dining room were absolutely great from start to finish (food, presentation, wait staff), but breakfast was another story. The quality and timeliness of delivery were poor; pancakes, for example, that could best be described as "chalky" and orders took forever to arrive from the kitchen! This forced you to use the buffet-style Windjammer if you had planned any kind of morning activity, and the Windjammer had its own set of contradictions. The Windjammer's cooked-to-order egg station was a great unexpected touch, but it caused frustration for us more often than comfort. With only 2 cooks with 2 burners, guests lined up by the dozens for their eggs, often forcing you to settle solely for the pre-cooked buffet offerings, and the only egg offering on the line was a practically-inedible scrambled egg "mass" that scooped up like ice cream and tasted like paste. I stood in line for almost 30 minutes one morning to get an omelet -- I took the French toast on the buffet when I didn't have the luxury of so much time on days when I scheduled tours, spa visits, and a photography class, but I would much rather have a fresher, more protein-oriented meal that didn't need syrup. I didn't like starting so many vacation days by compromising on my breakfast simply because the facilities (the Great Gatsby and the made-to-order line) weren't adequate to provide for all the guests in a more timely manner. Of course, I became a little grouchy about these things when I was awaken one morning at 7:30am by the sound of pounding and metal scraping against metal directly under my cabin as maintenance work (not repairs) was being done. Again, this seemed completely out of character with other efforts to provide us with a fun, relaxing vacation. The stateroom attendants were incredibly attentive and the ship scheduled and encouraged us to attend lavish night-time events, like the late-night chocolate buffet, midnight pool party, late-night "grand" buffet, casino events, and production shows that kept us out past midnight on several evenings, but then the maintenance crew started pounding on my cabin floor literally at the crack of dawn. It sounded like they were right in the bed with me! Complaints to the front desk didn't help; the workers finally stopped at 9:30am when they were finished, well after I had given up on any possibility of falling back asleep. I probably could have put these little inconveniences behind me (I'm not one to complain often) but then came the bombshell that shattered my faith in Royal Caribbean: a correction to the itinerary. Although the published itinerary included 4 stops (Key West, Cozumel, Belize, and Grand Bahamas Island), we only made the first three. Leaving Belize on time, the captain announced that we needed the next 3 days to get back to Baltimore from Belize, so we wouldn't be able to stop anywhere else. I would have understood if we needed to skip the Bahamas or substitute another port as a result of the previous weeks' hurricane damage. I would have understood if we needed to get out of the Caribbean/Sargasso Sea in order to safely avoid Hurricane Ivan. However, when folks suggested safer ports like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Charleston as the fourth stop, the captain stated that our corrected itinerary had nothing to do with hurricanes. His exact quote was "we don't have time for another stop," and he noted that "this might not have been what you were told [about this trip]." These comments indicate that Royal Caribbean never intended to make a fourth port on this cruise and that skipping a fourth port had nothing to do with severe weather past or present. I believe that many people, including myself, would have been less likely to book the cruise if they knew the true itinerary -- 2 days at sea, 3 very short visits to ports with no direct beach access, and then 3 more solid days at sea. The sea days were especially wasted since any outside facilities (pool, deck, rock climbing wall, etc) were practically useless except on the days when we were in port. While sailing up and down the cold Atlantic waters, outside facilities were very limited by cool, windy, and sometimes volatile weather. Access to the outside decks was completely restricted one day and the pools were emptied on the southbound journey as we encountered swells of up to 12 feet in the remains of Frances. Again, I know that the hurricane-affected weather is not Royal Caribbean's fault, but it severely limited one's choices for activities that didn't cost additional money. The sea was calmer on the 3-day northbound route, but the captain reported winds across the deck topping 40 knots at times and the water in the pools (brought in from the sea) was so cold that no one even managed to get in for the last 2 days of the trip home. We were disappointed to find that our "sunny 9-day Caribbean vacation" was actually less than 36 hours in the sun and a few hours in a cold pool. When I think of all the good things that Royal Caribbean did with such thought and effort, it's hard to believe that they miscalculated the amount of time needed to get from Belize to Baltimore. As a result, I have to conclude that they purposefully misstated the itinerary because they knew that experienced cruisers would avoid 3 days on the cold Atlantic waters on the return trip. Therefore, I'm not sure that I could trust them with my future vacations. Finally, prepare yourself for disembarking when you get home. Whatever time your boat returns to the home port, don't plan to even hit Customs for a couple hours and if you're flying, give yourself enough time to get through Customs, pick up your luggage, and secure transportation to the airport. For example, they insisted that everyone vacate their rooms by 8am when the boat was supposed to dock. We all then sat around in the common areas until after 10:30 before the first group was allowed to leave the ship. Besides being inconvenient, it struck us as a scam to get people to buy more drinks since the ship's restaurants closed shortly after we pulled into port. I seriously doubt, however, that this practice is unique to Royal Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Aug 7, 2004

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise ever for my husband and myself (55 and 54), both cruises taken this year. We chose Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas because it was leaving out of Baltimore, 30 minutes from our home, and we did not have waste time and money flying to Florida. Our destination was Grand Bahama Island, Florida Keys, Cocoa Cay, and Port Canaveral Florida. (Our first cruise was last April on the brand new Caribbean Princess

to Jamaica, Grand Caymans, Princess Cay, and Cozumel, Mexico). We knew it was hurricane season, but didn't let that worry us. Well, guess what happened? STATEROOM: We had booked an inside room but were delighted to be upgraded to a larger outside room with picture window. (On the Princess we had splurged for a balcony room, so we cut back this time). There was adequate storage, but we could have used a few more hangers. Bathroom small, but adequate. Flushes were not as noisy as on Caribbean Princess! Lots of medicine cabinet space. In the main area there was a dressing table/desk with large mirror and mirrored –door shelving up both sides, good storage, drawers.. Queen bed with nightstands on either side. Very soft sheets, comfortable mattress, but scratchy blanket! No bedspread at all -- I guess because of summer. Our room attendant left us cute animals made from twisted towels, which was fun. SERVICES: There is no self-laundry or ironing like on the Caribbean Princess., but the rates for getting shirts, suits, pants done are reasonable. I suggest bringing travel steamer for wrinkles. Internet is 50 cents/minute, which adds up quickly. It is hard to get on and off for less than $3.00. Usually $5-6 if you write anything. On the Caribbean Princess it was 35 cents/minute. SHIP: First of all, the ship is very nice. The Centrum area is lovely with many curved marble steps with silver and gold lighted railings and appointments. It is an impressive 8 decks high with visible glass elevators moving up and down full height. The casino is very large, I believe larger than on the Caribbean Princess -- and I loved the entrance floor which looked like buried treasure under glass with coins, jewels, strings of pearls, crowns, and even a skeleton! Hubby lost $40 and I won $50, so we came out ahead! Public areas are very nice, roomy, with nice comfortable furniture in wonderful fabrics. The South Pacific room is where they had most of the dancing and it was very impressive, very large, with great sofas and chairs on different tiers, tables, beautifully decorated and comfortable. We enjoyed the Duxbury Cadillac band there, usually 50s-70s music, and they were excellent. They did country music one night too. FOOD: The Windjammer buffet is good, with most everything you could ask for, and out-of-this-world desserts -- but they weren't always open -- when they were closed you could get pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries from the grill in the Solarium (aft). The coffee and tea was pretty good (Seattle's Best coffee) everywhere. The Great Gatsby dining room covered two open decks and was lovely. The food was excellent, with many choices. If you didn't like what they listed, ask for something else! Want two lobsters? Ask for it and you get it. Want one steak and one lobster, as you wish! Two entrees? Three appetizers? So be it! Our waiter was from Slovakia. He was maybe 25-33 and a little crazy....in a fun way. We joked with him a lot. His name was Tomas (pronounced Tow-Mass). He aimed to please and worked hard for his tips. The waiters sang and danced on certain nights, and it was fun. We had a GREAT bunch of people at our table and laughed a lot. ENTERTAINMENT: The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers put on a fantastic musical show. Two of the girl singers were OUTSTANDING. One show was 50's music, one 40s Swing, and one called The Beat Goes On -- 50s - 80s? They had a comedian we did not see, and a juggler we did not see. Lance Ringold (sp), two-time gold medal Olympic gymnast was there on Friday, and did a show featuring films of him in his heyday, then came out dressed as an old man with a walker, then proceeded to show us he still had the goods. He also surprised us by playing piano and singing and by doing an arial hanging silks routine, ala Cirque de Soleil. PORTS OF CALL: Our first stop was Grand Bahama Island. We took the party boat/shopping trip to Port Lucaya. The boat was fun, music, dancing, complementary Bahama Mamma alcohol or lemonade beverages. The shopping excursion was bad -- nothing I was interested in. Overpriced junk or high-faluting expensive stuff. A bus "tour" brought us back -- "On the left is our oil refinery, here is our used car lot, here is our Winn Dixie...." Bleak. bleak. Bleak. Another tour might have been better. Our next stop was Key West... this was great. I wish we spent two days in Key West...but as we got there, we heard they were beginning to evacuate for Hurricane Charley. Key West is beautiful with LOTS to do. We took a Catamaran Sail and Snorkel and it was very nice. We walked the streets and loved seeing all the culture and shops and quaint scenes. Not enough time. I bought lots of lotions and bath products at Key West Aloe, GOOD STUFF! Our next stop was Cocoa Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island. It was nice, I was disappointed. The water was not clear, too many people? The snorkeling was hazy, not pristine like we had before. There were lots of fish if you went out where directed, and a sunken plane, and a sunken boat, but the waves were high and we were warned of being pulled out, so we didn’t go out far. Our kayak trip was canceled due to high seas expected. The beach barbecue was nice to have, but nothing special taste-wise.   Our next stop was to be Port Canaveral, Fla, but the hurricane was headed right that way, so we went out to sea instead. Charley hit Florida hard...we spent one day at sea avoiding it and then started up the coast toward Baltimore. Charley started getting closer, so the captain turned us around south-east to let him pass, and then we followed him up the Chesapeake Bay to home. We did not hit bad weather, we did not have any seas higher then 4-8 feet....Captain Sven kept us out of harm's way. Sorry to miss Sea World in Florida, but it was closed anyway! We had fun watching Shrek 2 movie, having dinner with new friends, and enjoying dancing and music on the ship. They also played some audience participation game shows in the South Pacific Room (Quest, Newlywed game)…..BEWARE! If you are shy or private, DO NOT VOLUNTEER. These were quite racy with very personal and intrusive qestions! However, one funny point….in the game QUEST, the audience divided into teams for a scavenger hunt. One quest was for each group to send up a man with bright lipstick on….each group would send a volunteer and wave their group number for a point. The next asked for baldheaded men, and each group sent a representative for a point. Then the emcee kept one bald man and seated him, and asked for a lady with bright lipstick to come from each group to kiss his head. So 20 women run up, leave their smack on his head for a point. The Emcee asked the man, how did you like that? The man replied, ONE MORE TIME! So the emcee said, okay, all those men in lipstick, come on down! It was hilarious to see the look on the bald man’s face as all those lipsticked men ran up to get their points. The bald mans wife was hysterically laughing next to us. But as I warned, that was the MILD part of the show. All in all, we had a fun cruise. The ship is lovely. The staff was great and aimed to please. Key West is a great town. Grand Bahama Island I could have done without, but perhaps choosing a different shore excursion would change my mind. Cocoa Cay was too crowded and the swimming area was so small, I wondered about sanitation with that many people sharing the water in close proximity– if you know what I mean. We enjoyed the dancing on the ship and got some nice pictures on formal nights all duded up in gowns and tuxes. We even found a quiet little place high over the Centrum where the band music from down below wafted up so we could dance privately...hubby gets nervous dancing in front of people. Royal Caribbean is a very nice line on which to sail, and the Grandeur of the Seas is a lovely ship with great staff and a captain who puts safety first and a crew who aims to please and pamper.

Read More
  • New

Apr 30, 2004

Western Caribbean

Well let me start by saying that I have been on 6 other cruises Carnival Celebrity NCL & RCCL lines. Embarking was the fastest Vie 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 that 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 Vie 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 were Elegant & the Disco the nicest I've seen on a ship! ALSO DIDN'T NOTICE ANY ODORS ON THE SHIP THAT I READ ABOUT! 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 the hell 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 allot of shows! The value for price was excellent!!!! I cannot stress this enough!! I booked through cruise. COM as I receive their E-mail specials weekly. I got a lag inside for 2 for $500.00 per person & booked my own air! $500 was allot 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 allot of them. I would recommend booking through a online agency as I found that the prices are allot cheaper as these agencies buy cabins in blocks of 100 or so at a much lower rate & sell them at a profit RCCL 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 this ship 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 RCCL is my favorite cruise line! I had the best cruise on this ship & I cannot think of anything wrong w/ it other than the shrimps were too small!

Read More
  • New

Apr 23, 2004

Western Caribbean

Embarkation-New Orleans Embarkation could not have been better....It litterally 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. DONT 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 thouroughly 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 definately had the better of the snack foods with thier 24 hr pizzaria and serving breakfasts and lunches by the pool. Service- We found our service to be very,very vanilla and average compared to what we expirienced 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 snorkling you want with free equipment. IT WAS AWESOME!!! BOOK THIS EXCURSION!!! After it was over,the boat dropped us in town and we treked down to world famous Carlos n Charlies and had an absolute Blast. COZUMEL RULES!!! Grand Caymen- This was our second trip to Caymen 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 scenary and all in all I was glad Iwent. 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,Restaraunts,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 restaraunt 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 More
  • New

Mar 13, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

Many thanks to the previous reviews. They were valuable in our trip, I’ll try and share our experiences and add a few things not mentioned before. This was our first cruise for my wife and I, and two daughters age 11 and 5. Arrival: We parked at the Fulton Place Garage, as recommended. It worked out well, one note though, most people who do this drive over to the pier first and drop their luggage and family off first, or at

the very least, drop their luggage at the base of the garage before driving up 8 floors to park. We drug our stuff down one half flight of stairs before catching the elevator. Embarkation: I was worried about having all the proper documents for boarding, including our marriage license because it obviously doesn’t match my wife birth certificate. They hardly looked at any of the documents, and we boarded the ship in about 15 minutes. We boarded about 1:30, and quickly found our cabin on the 8th floor bridge deck. Cabin: We had room 8588 on the bridge level at the very back of the ship. We were dead center at the back, so we had a great view from our cabin. Never have been on a cruise before, we were surprised how small the room was. The four of us fit with no problems, but I can’t say it was roomy. In fact our deck out the back was half the size of the room, seems like they could have made it half as large, and added that to the room. Anyway, it was very comfortable and very quiet. Even though it was spring break and lots of kids of all ages were on board, the only sound heard at night was the low rumble of engines, which were a lot like a sleep machine, soon as our heads hit the pillows, we were out! The TV serves up only a few channels, CNN International, Bloomberg, Discovery, Cartoon Network and a whole host of “ship based” information, which we were pretty interesting. They also had 3 or 4 movie channels showing current DVD releases. Kids Programs: This is what would put us back with RCL or even the Grandeur again. The kids program was outstanding. We were nervous that our reluctant 5 year old would enjoy being separated from her 11 year old sister. We could not have been more wrong. Each of them woke up every day and asked when they could go to “kids club” as they called it. They have various programs for various ages, and our kids just loved it. They didn’t want to leave at night. One side note, they are pretty strict (which is good) about discipline. They have a '3 strikes you’re out rule', and we saw one little 7 year old boy who got all 3 strikes the first day. He was not admitted the rest of the week. Food: We are not gourmets, but we do eat pretty well. I’d have to give the food on the trip a solid “B”. At moments it was outstanding, but for the most part, it was just o.k. The absolute worst night for dinner was the “surf and turf” night. Everyone at our table of 10 agreed it was downright lousy. The steak was very tough, and the lobster was bland and stringy. My wife kept reminding me they serve the main course, 1100 meals, in 22 minutes, how much can you expect? On average, the appetizers and deserts were the best part of each meal. We started ordering 2 appetizers plus a salad half way through the trip. We took the recommendation in an earlier review and brought some wine on board. I thought this would be a hassle, but my wife insisted. It turned out to be completely uneventful. Just carried 3 bottles on board in a sack, no one ever asked or said a thing, even through the x-ray machine. We were only charged a corkage fee of $12 on one of the three bottles at dinner time, but we did order wine with every meal the other nights. I think this is one way the wait staff helps justifies the tip at the end of the cruise. There are two midnight buffets on board, the first near the pool, the second in the main dining room. We did both, but could have skipped the pool buffet. The one in the main dining room is not to be missed. It may have been the highlight of the cruise! They give you an hour or so to take pictures and videos, before letting everyone go to work. Just the visual presentation is pretty outstanding. Go hungry and enjoy! Oh, we were going to at first buy the “coke card” that gives the kids unlimited sodas. We ended up passing on that, and were glad we did. They had lemonade, water and tea at all times for no charge, and at dinner the girls ordered soda every night (they actually bring it without asking after the first night), and we were never charged for it. Ports of Call: Once again, we have never cruised before, I’m not sure if I would pick the same itinerary or not. First of all, I didn’t realize that traveling out of New Orleans means a 8 hour trip down the Mississippi each way. Also, it did not make a lot of sense to go to Cozumel first, then over to Grand Cayman, and then back to Costa Maya (which is south of Cozumel, more later). I also question the whole value of stopping in Grand Cayman. We arrived at our scheduled time of 10:00am, however, I was new to the whole “tendering” process. This means you have four boats, which each carry 100 people, who ferry the entire 2100 people over and back to the island. We did not step foot onto Grand Caymen until 1:30pm, and they wanted you back on the ship by 4:45pm. We did have just enough time to go to Stingray City, which as others have said before me, you must do at least once. It’s really great. We would have liked to spend more time in GC. Costa Maya is a new deep-sea port just north of the Belize border and south of Cozumel by a couple hundred miles. I think one morning somebody woke up and said “Gee, let’s build a deep sea port in the middle of nowhere”. Because that is basically what it is. There is a totally commercial shopping center at the end of the pier, where you can buy some trinkets or go swimming in a pool, or have a cocktail. You can also take a cab to the “fishing village” near the port. After you’ve been there five minutes you know this is no fishing village, but simply an extension of the commercial shopping center, albeit a little dirtier and prices a little cheaper. They cancelled several of the snorkeling tours on this stop due to jellyfish problems. One person at our dinner table actually went out on her pre arranged snorkeling trip and came back and demanded a refund due to the jellyfish. Of course, the locals kept saying “Jellyfish no problemo”. One highlight, there is a small building near the “fishing village” of Mahahual. It marks the entrance to “Tequila Beach” which is a nice clean beach with restrooms and a bar. Cold Corona’s were $1.00. They have a big yellow bouncing platform/slide out in the ocean you can hang out on or let the kids roam around on. This place is only 5 minutes by taxi ($2.00/person) from the pier. Cozumel has been pretty well reviewed in other places. It’s awesome. We rented a Jeep for $60.00 and drove around the island, stopping at Channakab beach to snorkel. The only RCL excursion we booked was Stingray City. As others have said, it’s much cheaper to pre book your excursion via the internet pre trip, or as we did, figure it out when you get there. The only big advantage to booking with RCL is if you are on an extremely tight schedule, as we were in Grand Cayman. If your excursion is late and you book it with RCL they know you are going to be late and the ship will not leave. If you book it on your own and you are late, well, let’s just say we were told you were truly “on your own”. For us the peace of mind in Grand Cayman was worth the extra $15.00 I read the other reviews about entertainment, and this seems to be what varies the most on this particular cruise. The Beatles Tribute band was outstanding; everything else was entertaining, but not Vegas. The pools were in good shape and constantly being cleaned. You see the Cruise Director Tom everywhere doing crazy and zany stuff, especially with all the college age kids aboard. (Think lots of Belly Flop contests!) At the end of the week comes (at least for us) “tip shock”. The recommendation was for $72.00 per person for the stateroom attendant, waiter, asst. waiter, and head waiter. What I tried to figure out was if my 5 year old should be tipping $72 bones, in the end we ended up charging the full $288 in tips to our cruise card, still not sure that was the right thing, but I sleep at night with no regrets. Other reviews have mentioned the constant selling on board. We really did not see this. Yes, waiters walk around with drink trays constantly asking if you’d like a cocktail, but no worse that most restaurants. You can have your picture taken nearly twice a day if you want, but don’t have to. Oh, don’t bother trying to smuggle liquor on board. It’s really cheap to buy at the ship store, one liter of Stoli Vodka was $9.95. We departed our last port of call (Costa Maya) at 8pm, instead of the listed 1am departure. No explanation was offered or given. It was no big sweat, since it was dark and there is not much to do anyway, but it would have been nice if they had at least said why. It took two days to get back to New Orleans, we arrived about 5:00am, and were off the ship by 9:30 and on the road by 10:00am. The customs procedure was even more lax than getting on the boat. No one asked the usual customs questions, we just herded off the ship, grabbed our bags and were off. (I’m NOT complaining!) So, in general, we really enjoyed the relaxation and enjoyed the cruise. This is not a cruise for those looking for a lot of activities in the ports of call, as you really only have about 20 total hours on land the whole week.

Read More
  • New

Dec 20, 2003

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise on the Grandeur in 14 months. Embarkation was the fastest ever, with the exception of having to pay RCCL an extra $ 280.00 as our travel agent got us an exceptional price using RCCL's regional discount program. RCCL said it didn't apply at the dock and we could either pay or not go. I gave them a check for $280.00 which I immediately stopped payment on. The travel agent and RCCL are fighting that one out.

Frankly I think it was a bait and switch. Anyway even with all that were about the first on the ship, baggage following about three hours later. We had an outside stateroom deck three. We had the room steward rearrange the furniture so the couch was facing the window, not the back of the bed. RCCL cabins are very small compared to Holland America. Last cruise on the Grandeur we had a balcony cabin but since we spend little time there the balcony cost seems high. This was a X-mass cruise and the ship was full of kids. I was very surprised as I expected most families would keep their kids at home. But, RCCL kid's programs kept the 500 little monsters at bay for the most part. We took most of our meals in the dining room. The food was very good and the service very good. My only grip is RCCL makes their wait staff put on shows almost every night and to me they get old. For first time cruisers it is probably fun. The shows were good and well done. Not exceptional but what one would expect. We even had Charo at the end. The ports of all were good. I in particular liked Costa Maya. The little town near the pier of Majahaul was cute and like going back in time. Too bad the developers are going to ruin it. Cozumel was the same as always. We always rent a taxi and go the East side of the island. It is very nice sans tourists. There is a great bar there called Coconuts, right on the beach complete with an iguana and parrot. The walls are lined with panties and bras from past patrons. Key West was OK but has grown tremendously. We even witnessed a knife fight between to bums. It took the police 30 minutes to get there. However Hogs Breath and Hard Rock Cafe were cool. The sunset at the pier was cool as well. Overall it was a good but not great cruise. The Grandeur is showing her age and needs refurbishing. Rust showing everywhere. One bright note, the Captain named Herman Ziny was everywhere. He is a great dude and saw more of him than any other of my 25 cruises. Peter Cunningham Fairhope,AL

Read More
  • New

Oct 10, 2003

New England/Canada

If you are looking for an extremely relaxing cruise that includes visiting quaint fishing villages and viewing trees filled with beautiful fall colors, then this “fall foliage” cruise is for you. The following will go into detail as to how our experiences were onboard the Grandeur of the Seas as well as our shore excursions in New England and Canada. This was our fourth cruise with RCCL and this time we decided to do something different;

cruise in cold weather. EMBARKATION: As I have recommended in my previous review on this website (cruisereviews.com) of the Enchantment of the Seas, we arrived a day ahead of the scheduled departure of the cruise to avoid any last minute hassles. We flew into Boston’s Logan International Airport in the early afternoon. We stayed at the Westin at Copley Place downtown. It is a wonderful hotel and I recommend it. Also, ask for a room that overlooks the river to have a spectacular view. We ate dinner that night at Mama Maria’s in the Italian section of Boston (near Paul Revere’s house). You’ll need reservations but the food is fantastic. Day 1 (Boston): During the morning we walked the Freedom Trail and stopped at many sights along the way that included old cemeteries, churches, historic buildings and homes, and the Constitution “Ole’ Ironsides”. It’s an excursion in itself and it’s free. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing for it’s a long walk. We then went back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage, grab a cab, and off to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal to check in. We checked in at 3:15 pm with no waiting in line. Therefore, I recommend checking in 1-2 hours after check-in opens to avoid long lines. Also, even though the information you receive about checking in for the cruise may say 1 pm they will usually allow people to begin checking in 2 hours prior to that. However, you probably will not be able to go to your stateroom until 1 pm. You can however, explore the ship and catch a small buffet lunch onboard. I personally would check in later and avoid the hassle of waiting in line. We again booked a balcony room and picked online as to where we wanted it to be located on the ship. The reason for this is we have found that the closer that you are to the Centrum (the atrium in the middle of the ship) the more ambient noise there is from people using the common areas such as the elevators and the musicians that play into the late evening. Also, avoid booking a room that has a door adjoining two rooms unless you are utilizing the two rooms for a reason. The door is a poor sound barrier between your room and the folks in the room next door. We stayed in room 7120 and found that it was perfect because it was close to the elevator and stairs but far enough away from any ambient noise. We had the mandatory life drill and the ship left promptly at 5pm. Day 2 (Bar Harbor, Maine): We pulled in at 8 am and we did the Best of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island excursion. The excursion consisted of a six-hour bus tour with several stops for pictures and exploring. Lunch was included where everyone ate a 1lb whole steamed soft-shelled Maine lobster with all the fixings (steak is a substitute for those will allergies to shellfish or a dislike for seafood). Though the tour lasted all day there was still time for a half hour of shopping near the pier. I highly recommend this tour if you want to see a little of everything Bar Harbor has to offer. This port is the only one where you go ashore by tender from the ship since there is no pier for the ship to pull into. Day 3 (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada): We were informed prior to our cruise that Halifax would probably be our least favorite port of call. I’m sad to say they were right, at least for what we saw. Besides the fact that the day started off foggy and rainy and that a hurricane had come through a week prior and uprooted many of the trees around town, there wasn’t much to see or do in downtown Halifax. Also, a majority of the shops were closed because it was Canada’s Thanksgiving Day. We did the Hop on/ Hop off British double decker bus tour that stopped at approximately 10 different sites in the downtown area. Of all the stops, Citadel Hill, which is a fort from the 1800’s, was the only stop we enjoyed. There is a fee to get into the fort though. Also, the currency is the Canadian Dollar and to avoid taking a loss of paying more for less, everyone recommends using your Visa to pay for all purchases in any of the Canadian ports. The conversion of Canadian to US is done automatically by Visa and will be billed as such. I spoke with a number of people that did the Peggy’s Cove excursion and they enjoyed it, so that is what I recommend to you. The reason is that it takes you away from downtown and to a quaint fishing village. Day 4 (Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada): We arrived into port at 8 am to a clear, cool, sunny day. We chose the Sailing on the Bras D’Or Lake excursion. We boarded a bus that took our group for an hour scenic drive to Cape Breton where we boarded a beautiful 60’ sailboat (that has a story in itself) for an hour and a half sail. During our time sailing we saw bald eagles, seals, and the home of Alexander Graham Bell that consists of over 600 acres. Afterwards, we were treated to a delicious lunch at a nearby resort. An opportunity for shopping was given and then we re-boarded the bus for an hour drive back to the ship. Sydney and Cape Breton is absolutely gorgeous, especially with the trees at peak colors. This was one of my favorite ports ever. Day 5 (At Sea) Day 6 (Quebec, Canada): We heard that Quebec was a beautiful city and we heard right. We took the Quebec Countryside excursion and saw a sugar shack on the Isle de Champlain, which sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, Montmorency Falls, and Lake de Beaupre. We spent the rest of the day in Old Town, which is split into the upper and lower half and is within walking distance to the ship. Here is where the history of Quebec is seen along with a plethora of restaurants and shops. Eight-five percent of the people in Quebec speak French so brush up on your French early. We were at this port from 8am – 11pm. Day 7 (Saquenay River/ At Sea): We sailed down the Saquenay River where we saw hills with a lot cascading waterfalls, whales (Beluga and Minke), and a statue of the Virgin Mary way up in the hills on a cliff. Then we turned around and headed back out into the St. Lawrence River and back to sea towards New Brunswick. Day 8 (At Sea) Day 9 (St. John, New Brunswick, Canada): We were welcomed into St. John as we debarked the ship by roses for the ladies and small pins for the men. We opted for the Covered Bridges Bicycle excursion where we were taken by bus on a 45-minute ride to the Village of Sussex. Once in Sussex, we were brought to a café owned by the man who took us on a very professionally done 2-hour/ 15-mile bicycle tour of the countryside. The ride included going through old covered bridges, riding through hilly rustic areas, and a tree lined path along a river. It was a good workout and the only downfall was an overcast sky with a light cool rain falling. After the ride, we were treated to lunch at the café. Following a tasty lunch we boarded the bus and were led by an outstanding tour guide for an hour ride through the scenic countryside. Our guide, Bill, went well out of his way to make stops at places for pictures as well as inform us on much of the history as possible during the trip back to the ship. A side note is that you should be in fairly good shape for the bicycle excursion. Day 10 (Portland, Maine): This port, south of Bar Harbor, brought us back into warmer weather. Like St. John, we were welcomed by their tourism bureau with brochures and the local newspaper. We opted for the Best of Portland/ Kennebunkport excursion. This is an all day tour that points out a lot of the historical facts and sites about Portland before moving on to the quaint villages of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Kennebunkport is the home of George and Barbara Bush and is driven-by on the tour. A two-hour stop is made in these two villages where there are many seafood restaurants and shops to explore. Here though, lunch is not included in the cost of the excursion. Like Bar Harbor, this excursion is a great way to see a lot of what Portland, Maine has to offer in one day. Debarkation: We purchased airport transfers during the cruise at the Purser’s Desk at the cost of $20/ pp. This is equivalent to the cost of a cab ride to the airport however cabs are scarce at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. Getting off the ship went smoothly, however, we had four pieces of luggage that were picked up outside our stateroom the night before. Thinking that they’d be together for pick up in the colored section that we were assigned in the cruise terminal; they weren’t. We spent a long time trying to retrieve all of our luggage among rows and rows of luggage. Next time we will put some sort of ribbon or tape on the luggage to make it stick out better. The ride from the cruise terminal to the airport is very short and the buses are assigned certain airline terminals so make sure you let the porter know which airline you are flying. The Ship Itself: Grandeur of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas, both Vision class ships and therefore identical layouts, made it easy to navigate from day 1. The downfall though is it took away all the excitement of exploring the ship since we recalled where everything was located. As with the other three RCCL ships we’ve been on, Sovereign, Adventure, and Enchantment of the Seas, the Grandeur was clean and immaculate. We were informed the first day that the staff would not be shaking hands with the passengers to prevent the transmition of disease. Also, they repeatedly informed all the guests that proper hand washing should be performed at all times. These precautions were given to prevent the possibility of the Norwalk disease from occurring. (We saw on the news while we were at sea that Carnival had this happen to them and they had to cancel their cruise two days into it). Therefore, we weren’t offended in any way. The service was fantastic and we had a great stateroom attendant and dining room wait staff. Suggestions/ Observations: As stated in the Enchantment of the Seas review, I suggest booking excursions online prior to 10 days of the ships departure to avoid long lines and the possibility of the excursion being sold out by waiting until the last minute to purchase the excursion on the ship. Also, it’s a great feeling to walk into your stateroom the first day to find all of your excursion tickets awaiting you. Motion Sickness- bring enough anti-motion sickness medication with you on your cruise. Many brands are over-the-counter but a lot of them make you drowsy especially with the combination of alcohol. I personally recommend Bonine because it shouldn’t make you as drowsy as others do. Crown and Anchor Society- I recommend to everyone that thinks they’ll sail RCCL more than once to join the Crown and Anchor Society. It’s free to sign up and the benefits are great. See RCCL’s website for everything that’s included in the program. of the Lettermen), Comedian Rich Ceisler, Marty Allen & Karen Kate Blackwell, pianist Craig Dahn, Bobby Avron (the voice of tv’s Happy Days), and magician Charlie Frye. Summary I believe that by reading this review along with my review of Enchantment of the Seas, you will gain a better understanding of how RCCL operates along with a couple suggestions as to how to better enjoy your cruise. Our goal is to cruise with Serenade of the Seas next October 2004 for the 15 day Panama Canal route. Also, once Celebrity and Royal Caribbean credit each other towards cruises, we’d like to try a cruise on Celebrity. Grandeur of the Seas will be sailing out of Baltimore, Maryland next year instead of Boston. From what I’ve been told, Boston will be a port of call. As always, please feel free to email me with any questions you may have to Irishff14@aol.com

Read More
  • New

Aug 22, 2003

Baltic

We sailed the Grandeur of the Seas, August 23, 2003, leaving from Harwich England. We bought air through RCI which included transfers. They were waiting for passengers at the airport, downstairs from the customs area at Gatwick. They will ask to take your luggage and you won't see it again for hours. If you need something earlier keep it with you. The bus ride to the port at Harwich is 2 1.2 hours. Our bus had broken a/c so it was

a very uncomfortable ride. Check in at the port went quickly and we were able to get into our cabin at 12:00 p.m. which is when we arrived. Sunday was a sea day as we sailed to Oslo. The North Sea had 8-13 foot swells so it was a bit rough. We enjoy this though!! There is a lot of ship traffic in the North Sea and Baltic which is interesting. We had our Cruise Critic party at 11:45 which was a lot of fun meeting those we had been talking with for months! Monday we arrived in Oslo to sunny skies and 65 degrees. We were off the ship at 7:10 a.m. We do all the ports independently. We didn't dock where we were supposed to by the fort, but instead at the ferry terminal. We walked into town and found tram #12 and took it to Vigeland Park & sculpture garden. It went to Frogner and stopped due to construction, but it was only a 5 minute walk to the park. The tickets for trams and buses are expensive, $4.30 per ticket, good for l hour. We ended up using it for 2 hours with no one checking. It was 8 a.m. and the park had few people in it. People on bikes riding to work and a few gardeners. It was so peaceful, a wonderful way to enjoy it before bus loads of people arrived! From the road directly in front of the park we caught bus #20 and rode it to Bus #30 line. The drivers will help you if you ask which stop to get off at. We then took bus #30 straight to the Fram museum. We used our original bus ticket for all 3 of these rides. It would be best to get an Oslo card which covers admissions and transport. We didn't since I couldn't find it that early. You can buy this ahead of time on-line and not worry about wasting time looking for it early in the morning. The Fram opens at 9 a.m. so it's important to go here first. The ships papers said it opened later, ignore this. At 9:30 we walked next door to the Kon Tiki museum. Both these museums are worth seeing. A 15 minute walk from here brings you to the Viking Ship museum which has 3 old Viking ships. This was the least impressive museum of the 3, although it has a huge parking lot so this is where the cruise ship tours come. We then walked to the Outdoor Norwegian Folk museum. This is only a 5-6 minute walk from the Viking museum. We enjoyed it a lot, although some houses were closed. We then ferried across the bay to the main harbor and walked to the City Hall. City Halls are very important sights in these countries. We were able to see the wood carvings outside and the first floor, but the important 2nd floor was closed due to election day. We were told it had been open in the morning. From here it's a 10 minute walk to the National Museum where we saw "The Scream" and Munch's other paintings. This is a free museum but you must check your backpack in free lockers. We then walked down Karl Jhons Gate, not to attractive, but found a department store selling tourist items. I bought a troll that I loved! Get the paperwork to get the VAT back. They are very good returning it on the ship just before you sail as long as you have the paperwork. They give you the refund in US$'s. We then went to the Cathedral, then to the Akershus Fortress where the Norwegian Resistance Museum is. It is a good museum, but the English is written in small letters and it's a dark museum, so is difficult to concentrate on. I liked the resistance museum in Copenhagen better. We had walked for 8 hours but had seem so much! This is a very expensive city. Cherries $9 lb., slice of chocolate cake $10, child’s t-shirt $30, postcard, $1.25 for one, Ouch!! We sat at the back of this ship on deck 5 to watch our sail away, past beautiful small islands with summer homes on them, don't miss this! Tues. Sea Day We slept a lot, catching up still and getting ready for the hectic schedule to come. Wed. Stockholm Heavy rain in the a.m. but cleared at 10:30 am. 65 degrees Beautiful islands sailing into Stockholm. We arrived at 9 a.m. so had time to enjoy the sail in. There is a Tourist Info Office right at the dock in a small red building. We bought the Stockholm card here. This is a good buy at 220 crown. Again, the admissions add up. We walked in the downpour to Slussen Ferry Dock for the ferry to Djurgarden where the Vasa museum is located. It is an easy, but 25 minute walk to the ferry. Get off the ship and walk along the water toward town. You could take the ships bus to town and if it's summer take a different ferry over, which wasn't running in late august, or take the bus from there. We were dropped of the ferry at Tivoli and walked 5 minutes to the Vasa. It opens at 10:00 a.m. and we arrived at 10 sharp! We spent 50 minutes at this museum which is excellent! We then walked to the Nordic Museum which is right across the street from the Vasa in a large brick building. We really enjoyed this museum, it's different from most with Christmas exhibit, shoes, china, clothing. Quite interesting. Next we walked a short way, 6-7 minutes to Skansen Outdoor museum. Again, this is excellent, but quite large. You can't possibly see everything here in a short time but it's worth seeing what you have time for. We did find the reindeer!! We spent 45 minutes here. From Skansen we took bus 47 (bus stop right in front of Skansen) to the City Hall at the city center. We asked driver to tell us when to get off. He did happily and pointed to us which way to walk! It's past the train station. You must go on a guided tour here and the next was at 2:00 p.m. It was 12:30 so we should have gone to Gamla Stan first. We had to walk back to Gamla Stan and onto the Royal Palace where we saw the changing of the guard. The guards talked softly to the tourists. I had never seen that done before! We went to the Armory to see the large coaches and wooden sleds. We then walked in Gamla Stan, shopping a bit in this delightful area of small streets. This is the Old Town of Stockholm. We walked back to the City Hall for the 2:00 tour. This is a ways, so had to really rush. We had a tour of the Nobel Prize Banquet hall and city hall council meeting room. It was a good tour, although a little long. Back to the Royal Palace for us and a tour of the Treasury with it's small but beautiful crowns and swords. Then we had a bit more time for Gamla Stan, and a walk back to the ship. My legs desperately needed a break after all the walking we did today! Thursday Tallinn Sunny/rainy 62 degrees We were very tired after yesterday, but still got off the ship a bit before 9:00 as soon as we could. We docked early here. I wanted a Tallinn card but there is no TI at this dock. Ask for directions to Terminal A where you can buy the card. We got the card that is good for museums, not the one with the tour included. One man we knew on the cruise could never find the meeting point for the tour and was told it's very hard to find. This city is easy to get lost in. To find Terminal A walk from the ship toward town and shortly upon leaving the gated area turn left. You're heading for the ferry terminal D. walk toward it, but when you can see Terminal A turn left towards it. It's not far. 10 minutes at most from the ship. Inside terminal A is a TI and money changing station. Buy and Sell at good, fair rates. They bought US$'s at $14Kroon and sold for $15 which was only a 3% markup. We only changed $20 USD and got 280 EEK. It was all we needed for the day! The 6 hour Tallinn card covered all museum entrances and buses. We never needed a bus. The card was 60 EEK or $4 US. We walked to town, a very easy walk, past Fat Margaret. They have excellent Matryosha nesting dolls at many shops here. Expect to pay around $55-60 USD for a nice stack of 5 though. We walked through the Old town up to Toompea, Tallinns fortified hill. The view is superb!! Postcard girls are everywhere. Buy postcards from them, they are so sweet. We met on from Georgia. She's trying to support herself and eventually follow her older sister to the US. Excellent sites here are kiek in de kok, with a photography exhibit, medieval cannons left over from the Livonian wars, and other interesting exhibits. St. Nicholas Church with WW II ruins behind it, Dome Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Holy Ghost Church with old outdoor clock, Estonian History Museum, Tallinn Town Museum, among others. At each site, they wrote down the # of our Tallinn card. There is still plenty of time to wander and shop. It's easy to get lost here, which we did a lot. The shop selling CD's of Estonia Music was gone, empty shop now. I asked a waiter at Old Hansa, a restaurant many enjoyed, where I could buy CD's. He told us of Black Market ones under the bridge between Old town and New town! Visit a pastry shop for the best cookies! .35 each, for a cake base, fruit filling, meringue and then covered in chocolate!! We found the internet in Tallinn! A unique experience. We had asked at the TI in town center where it was. She gave us directions of which street to go to. We did, but couldn't find the internet. Asked at the spa, and hair salon on this street. They didn't know. Well, I finally found it, next door to the hair salon. It's a single door, looks like an old Russian apt. building. On the small sign if you look carefully it says internet. The shops right next to it don't even know it's there! Walk up 4 flights of steps in this old building, and down a long, old hallway with many doors. At the end of the hall is an excellent internet center with 5-6 computers. High speed. 30 minutes was $1.50!!! Great after the .50 a minute internet on the ship. It was an easy, relaxing walk back to the ship. Friday St. Petersburg, Russia!! Partly cloudy 57 degrees Again, we didn't want to do ship tours. We looked into and got information from Red October and Denrus. Both e-mailed us their itineraries and prices, which were quite high. It was still early and we couldn't find anyone to team up with. Then I saw posts about Palladium and heard many good things about them. You do need to get Russian Visas, but their prices were great for 2 people. $10 hour for guide and $12 hour for car and driver. We decided to go with them for part of the time. They gave us free visa support. We e-mailed our information and they faxed the necessary paperwork. We filled out the application and sent it along with Travel vouchers and a passport sized picture, I cut from a mat finish, photograph I had taken with $100 each and our passport to the Russian consulate in New York via Fed Ex. 2 weeks later we had our passports back with the Russian Visas inside. Follow the instructions and it's not bad at all. It was so exciting, now we could go tour on our own and have total freedom to do what we wanted!! Almost everyone I corresponded with said don't do it, it's to hard. Well, it wasn't hard, but easy the way we did it. We did have to plan ahead a lot though. We had Palladium pick us up at the ship the first day. They need a gate pass to do this which is $25 a day. We were going to meet them at the port gate, which is very easy to do, but decided to have them get the pass for l day so they could return us to the ship at 11 p.m. that night. A wise choice. We met at 8:30 a.m. but we got off the ship as soon as we were allowed so we wouldn't be behind many people on ship tours going through the same custom lines. There are only 2 lines. We had NO problem with customs. They looked at our visa, stamped the white paper attached and sent us on our way. We waited outside the customs house for 30 minutes for our guide. It would be okay to meet at 8 a.m. if you want. Our driver and guide were excellent! Elena, our guide was so smart, had so many facts to tell us. She has been only married for l year and has traveled a lot outside of Russia. We think she was from a well to do family. The guides must have individual passes for each site you visit, and they must take a test every year to renew their guide passes. We could have not been happier with her services. I had some phrases for her to translate for us into Russian for the time we'd be on our own, and she happily did it. We started out with a city tour covering everything imaginable. We also went into several churches and saw services going on. Quite interesting. Each church was different from the last. We stopped at many sites and took pictures. It rained a bit. Then we drove out to Peterhof, stopping at Chelsma Church on the way. It's a pink and white striped church, looks like a candy cane! Small and quaint. We went inside during the service. In front of this church new drivers were taking "drivers ed" and learning how to do 3 point turns, etc. It was fun to see. We saw very old apt. buildings along the roads, and summer houses with their gardens. They also looked old to me. We saw Peter and Paul cathedral across from Peterhof, a large and beautiful church. We loved Peterhof and it's fountains! Don't miss this, a real highlight. We had plenty of time to walk the gardens and see many, many fountains, and the trick fountains the kids were enjoying. Yes, we got wet here!! There are bathrooms here but you must get the tp in the lobby area first. None in the stalls. Most people didn't realize it and were without! We had local currency and need it to pay for admissions and restroom facilities. After Peterhof we drove back to St. Petersburg where we had Palladium drop us off at the Hermitage. We had bought tickets ahead of time on the internet. This way you don't have to stand in line. It's also good to take pictures with. Elena took our e-mail confirmation and used her guide pass to walk us in that entrance, right to the ticket window without waiting and got our tickets. This was so nice of her, over and above service! She wished us well, gave us some tips on what to see, although I had the Lonely Planet book and had it all planned out. We were here at 1:30 p.m. There weren't many people here since it was lunch time. We checked our backpack. In this area there is also a money exchange desk. We changed more US$ into rubles. The exchange rate was very fair. We had started with $100 US$ amount we changed at our airport bank into rubles. We used the lonely planet map of the museum which I had highlighted all the rooms we wanted to see. It was easy to follow, we felt we saw all of the highlights with no problem, spending about 3 hours here. It wasn't hot, and when we needed to ask the Russian women in the room, guarding it, where stairs were etc. they were very helpful. We used hand signs to communicate! They even smiled! We left the museum and found a bench just outside in a small park by the building and sat and had a lunch I had brought from the ship. We were in St. Petersburg with no guide eating lunch at the Hermitage! It was a thrill! It's important to bring bottled water also. We walked to St. Isaacs next, found it easily, bought tickets, no line. Buy the tickets up the steps on side opposite the Bronze horseman statue. Don't stand in line with the Russians on the street. You must also buy a separate ticket for your camera if you want to take pictures. Do so. Excellent mosaics here but not as good as Church on Spilled Blood. We shopped at the street market across the street next. They were getting ready to close up, but I bargained well and got 2 sets of very nice Matryoshka nesting dolls, hand painted for $50. They started out asking for $50 USD each, but I got 2 sets for that price in the end. They'll bargain if you get more than l. I had wanted 3 so it helped in the bargaining, but ended up with two. They like USD, but the rate is same for rubles or $, no mark up for $. We asked them for directions to the Moya, yes they spoke English well! We walked here following the canal. We felt like we were walking in an older Paris, very simular. We felt very safe, just had to watch for traffic. We went to the Moya canal where the bridge crosses Nevsky Prospect. Here we joined others for a canal cruise. 1 hour for $7. They would wait until the boat was full before they'd leave. There is a small canal side cafe for drinks as you wait. We only waited about 20 minutes. It was a small boat, holding about 20 people at most. The guide was a Russian woman giving the tour live for over an hour of non stop talking. They thought she was quite funny also! We couldn't understand a word, but it didn't matter a bit. We cruised the small canals and the Neva. It was excellent. It was getting cool so they gave everyone a wool blanket, and when it started to rain just a bit, they handed out umbrellas! This was great fun. We had theater tickets later for a folkdance show at Nikolayevsky Palace at Truda Square, 4. This was an excellent show, the best folkdance show we've ever seen! The had many, many costume changes, dances and singing. Even a comedic guy in a costume after intermission, falling on people, including me in the audience! It was great fun. They show was 2 hours with a break for champagne, vodka, fruit, and desserts. Before the show though we went to the Astoria hotel and cleaned up. Then we walked through the city some before going to the Palace. We knew where it was since Palladium showed us the location earlier in the day. It was very close to the Neva river west of St. Isaccs. At 11 p.m. our driver from Palladium picked us up at the palace and drove us back to the ship. The streets were deserted so we were happy not to have to find our own taxi back. Saturday St. Petersburg, cloudy, no rain, 57 degrees Today we met a walking guide at the port gates. To get to the gate from the ship was simple and free. The taxis usually will charge $10 to go to the gate. They may ask for more, but $5-$10 is usual. If you want to go for free, simply get on the old port bus. The bus stopped right in front of the ship to the left of where all the tour buses line up for ship tours. There is a blue wooden building that is the bus stop. We waited about 10 minutes for the bus to arrive. As we were waiting 2 employees from the ship also came and waited with us. When we asked the purser on the ship where the bus stop would be, they said, no, no you don't want to use the bus, it's very old. We told them we didn't care if it was old, but they wouldn't answer our ?. Just must find it on your own, but it's very easy to spot. We hopped on the bus and 5 minutes later it was at the port gate. It was free. Customs at the ship was again easy, and the Russian customs official even laughed with me at my passport picture, which looks nothing like I do today! And who said they don't smile! You show your passport again at the gate. Keep the blue paper with your cabin # on it that the ship gives you the night before you arrive in Russia. We passed on through and met our walking guide, Olga Stepanova. I had found her on the internet, she is also recommended highly on the Fodders sight. She usually uses a car and driver, but that's not what we wanted. We wanted to tour by metro and bus. We had thought about doing this on our own, but we still had so much to see we decided before we left to use Olga to help us get around quicker. She's a fully licensed guide and I sent her a list of what we wanted to do ahead of time. She charged $10 an hour, a bargain. We walked from the port gate straight out to the street where we crossed the road and she flagged down a mini-bus. It's just a van that is used as a mini bus for people. I think it was #41, not sure though. The 2 people who worked on the ship ended up doing the same thing, but got the next bus. We took this mini-bus for .50 each to the center of the city, to the metro. Rides inside the city are .25. We took the metro to Kuznechnyy rynok indoor market. It's a fruit, vegetable, meat, dried fruits, flower market. We had great fun here. The dried fruit stall had 3 men working in it who were just delighted at us Americans being there. They sold us fruits and told us they were Saddam Hussein figs! They knew they were punching our buttons!! We had a fun time with them though. I got one dirty look from the artistic vegetable stall when I took a picture here, but very friendly cheese ladies. We tasted the nasty, soft cottage cheese stuff. Not good. Olga couldn't figure out why we wanted to go here, but she took us anyhow! She has her opinions, but will comply to what you want. Just insist kindly, she's a pushover! Next we took the metro to Alexander Nevsky Monastery and Tikhvin Cemetery. I guess I made a mistake here when I took pictures in the metro. Greg and Olga were buying tickets, a card for 3 rides and I snapped a couple of pictures. A metro guard rushed out of his office looking for me. Saw me, but didn't know it was I taking the pictures, and left. Then I asked Olga if pictures were ok. They don't like them, but I could if not caught! The metro used to be used as a bomb shelter so they're still protective. The metro is very deep. Olga was great, she didn't talk nonstop, and we got to talk to her about her life, not just about the sites we visited. She's been a guide for 15 years. We found bathrooms at a hotel, nice and clean, then hopped a mini bus again, this time to Peter and Paul Cathedral and Fortress. We drove down Nevsky Prospect with Olga pointing out more sights, which we would come back to later in the day, walking. We had a good visit inside the cathedral seeing the tombs of Peter the great and family, the cells, and the fortress. I got my picture taken in the lap of Peter the Great statue with the small head and big body! Olga really doesn't like this statue, but I told her tourists do! We took the mini bus to the Church on Spilled Blood with the most beautiful mosaics we've ever seen! A camera ticket is very important here. After finishing our day in St. Petersburg, walking and seeing so much, Olga got a taxi for us back to the ship. We didn't want to do the mini-bus back on our own since we would have to transfer to a 2nd bus and we don't know which corners to catch them at. The taxi was only $10 to the port gate, where we again, took the bus back to the ship. A port gate guard came up to us this time and asked if we were Americans. We said yes, and he said he had a $20 US bill and could we give him change for it. We both thought, rightfully so, that it was counterfeit and he wanted to pass it to us, getting real currency. We refused, telling him we were out of US currency, that we had used rubles, which was true. He kept trying, but finally realized we weren't going to give him any $. We were almost at the point of thinking we would have to comply though, so we could go on. When the woman checking our passports here to go back inside the port was looking at them, he came into the office, grabbed them from her hands and threw them back at us. Oh well, we were on our way. We were very, very happy with our time in Russia. I had a list of many smaller things to see here and using Olga really helped us out. Sunday Helsinki 57 degrees, cloudy No time for rest, still exhausted, we were off the ship at 7:30 am. Helsinki runs shuttles from the ship into the city for $4 one way per person. No one knows the public bus also goes from the same location, but around the corner for 1Euro each. Just ask the guide at the Helsinki tourist bus there by the ship where to get the bus. We were in the West Harbor and took bus #16. The Helsinki site said it would be bus 15A, but it was nowhere to be found so we stopped bus #16 and this was the correct one. It drops you off on the Esplanade. We later, at the ferry to Suomenlinna, bought all day transportation passes for $4.80 Euros each. This is a great deal since many bus rides are $2Euros each. This pass includes the ferry. It was Sunday and very quiet in Helsinki. We did our own city walking tour, seeing Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral, Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Cafe Kappeli, which was quiet, not crowded. It's a pretty, but very small city. We shopped in the Market at the Harbor, buying some wonderful items! Great market. We then took the ferry to Suomenlinna island and the fortress. Boy was this place dead on a Sunday morning. Most things don't open until later in the day. I felt bad for those on tour we met here. They paid $60 for the tour. We ferried back to the harbor and walked to the Swedish Theater where bus #24 is. Easy to find. We took this bus to the end of the line which goes to a wonderful wooden bridge you walk across to Seurasaari open air folk museum. This place is wonderful. Smaller than Skansen in Stockholm, but everything was open, and the setting is so pretty. It's on it's own island. Many families were here for the Sunday morning, feeding the squirrels. After seeing most of the houses we walked to the connecting island which was having an ancient Viking Festival. It wasn't to good. We then went back to the bus stop. Walking over the wooden bridge, some cars drove by carrying people dressed as the wedding party for a wedding to be held in the church at the open air museum. We took bus #24 back to town, passing the Sibelius Monument. We saw it from the bus, deciding not to get off since time was running out and we wanted to still go to Temppeliaukio Church. The church in the rock. We got off the bus and walked to the Railroad station to take a picture of this fantastic building, then walked to the church. We got lost, so again asked for directions from a local who walked us part of the way there. This church has very limited hours on Sundays, so we were very happy to get inside. It's a wonderful sight. We walked back to the Esplanade to catch bus #16 back to the port, and arrived at 2:20. All aboard was at 2:30 so we just made it! Monday p.m. Copenhagen 60 degrees, sun/clouds/rain It was a sea day for much of the day, arriving at Copenhagen at 7 p.m. We rested, sure did need it. We wanted to walk to Tivoli. It was raining though so we wisely hopped on the public bus #26 which was at the pier. It would be a long walk for the evening so it was a good decision taking the public bus. We would have missed the entertainment at Tivoli if we would have walked there. You need to get passes to get off the ship so everyone doesn't get off at once. They let a lot of the independent people off at the same time they called the first bus groups. We loved Tivoli! We got a schedule of events as we walked in the main gate at the office to the left of the gate. Magic show, bands, pantomime, acrobats, rides, food, a great place. It's all lit up when the sun goes down. Great fun. We took the public bus back to the ship that evening. Tuesday Copenhagen We wanted to walk the city this day so left the ship at 7:30 and walked to the Little Mermaid statue. No one else was there so we got good pictures! We walked onto Nyhavn which we weren't to impressed by. It was early still, I'm noticed it was much more lively around lunch time. It's just a small area. We didn’t buy the Copenhagen card here, didn't think it was a good value for what we had planned. The large fountain was disassembled, being redone. We walked to the Old Market, New Market area. Old market was a disappointment, not much here. Stroget was excellent though. Ecco shoe store with $60 shoes!!! I bought 2 pairs. We walked by the stork fountain, the old phone booth and much more, taking pictures. Stopped by the railroad station, then walked to City Hall. They were having a special handwork, art show which we walked through before it opened! Saw the famous clock through the shear curtains, then walked to Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket museum which opened at 10 a.m. We arrived at 10, it was excellent and not crowded, had a wonderful Gaugin collection along with a lot of sculptor. Next we walked to the National Museum, again excellent. Don't miss the prehistoric section on the ground floor. The entrance is by the lockers, it's the best part of the museum and a bit difficult to find. It has bog people, rue stones and so much more. Walked down the Stroget again, stopping for a Carlsberg Beer rest! We then walked to the Rosenburg Castle. This looks to be far away on the map, but it isn't. Just ask for directions. We toured the castle and the crown jewels, in another area here. There is a nice, big lawn here you can relax on. The 3rd floor of the castle is the highlight, after the crown jewels. From here we walked to a church with frescos, could have skipped this, then onto the Resistance Museum by the fort. This is in a dark wood building, hard to spot at first. We enjoyed this museum much more than the one in Oslo. They won't take credit cards here without a European pin # so don't run out of currency. We used our last to buy tickets here. We walked back to the ship and got our VAT back at the shops across from the ship. We met Captain Zini’s Mother and Father in law on our Deck 8. They were wonderful people, his mother in law was so much fun talking to!! This was a wonderful trip. So very much to see. We used Rick Steves Scandinavia book and Lonely Planet book also for planning. The best maps are in Lonely Planet. It took a lot of planning, but it was so worthwhile when everything just fell into place! I wouldn't do anything different, but we did come home exhausted. We spent 3 days in London after the cruise. We saw Mama Mia, and Chicago and did a London walks Pub walk. We went to Brighton for a fun day, also with London walks, and went to Greenwich which is an easy trip and very worthwhile. Hopefully this review will help some of you plan your ports independently! Greg and Lorrie

Read More
  • New

May 2, 2003

Baltic Capitals

When a doctor prescribes fresh air and rest --- go cruising. This 28 day back-to-back cruise was all relaxation and new and fascinating ports. These were our third and fourth cruises on the Grandeur of the Seas, which makes 14 RCI cruises. We've experienced the health benefits of one or two week cruises before; however, we found four weeks' health benefits to be increased exponentially! That's it. . . . do what the doctor orders! Since

we've written and published on the Grandeur before, concerning her common areas and art work, this review will concentrate on service, food, recreation and primarily the many new ports (for us) during the 28 days. EMBARKATION We flew into New Orleans May 2nd and stayed overnight at the Hilton Riverside on the Mississippi River. New Orleans was in full bloom with the scent of magnolias every where. This charming city needs no introduction, since her fame is epic. From our hotel window, we saw the Grandeur sail in at 4:30 am, all ablaze in lights, she is really glorious. After a five minute cab ride to the pier, we waited with other Crown & Anchor members for priority boarding. The computers were down for a short period, after that glitch, boarding was quick and easy. Our friend, Hotel Director Tony O'Prey (New Zealand), was on the dock and we knew we were headed for a great cruise. Departure was delayed to accommodate late flights. THE SHIP Captain Michael Lachtaridis (Greece) has reason to be proud of his gorgeous ship, which is 916 ft. long, with a 106 ft. beam, a 25 ft. draft and has a gross tonnage of 74,000. She carries 2446 passengers and a crew of 760; however, on the first leg of the cruise, there were 1,600 passengers; 850, or more than half of them, were repeaters and 200 were either Platinum or Diamond members of Crown & Anchor Society. Actually the Grandeur is perfect in size -- stable in the water and easy to circulate. Thanks to Mr. O'Prey, her condition is excellent, from the Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 11 with its life size Viking Armored Warriors) to the elegant Great Gatsby Dining Room, South Pacific Lounge, Casino Royale, Palladium Theater and her five deck tall Centrum with balconies. The crystal canopied Solarium is where Vincent spent his early mornings in the hot tubs. Great for a healthy rest! Captain Michael soon became a favorite of the passengers through his daily announcements at noon. The messages were repeated by the smiling passengers who enjoyed his humor (i.e. "Well, I must congratulate my navigators, because after four days at sea, they have found Bermuda. It's not easy you know, because it is a small island in a vast ocean")! We had smooth sailing all the way, with many days of flat seas and felt safe in the hands of our capable Captain, even when the ship was surrounded by thick fog. His humor is refreshing, but his "steering" (not driving) is legend. Decks 2 & 3, and the forward half of 4 are all staterooms. The Gatsby Dining Room is aft of Decks 4 & 5. Deck 5, forward is the main floor of the Palladium Theater; next is the Casino Royale and midship is the Purser and Explorations desks, while aft is the balcony of the Gatsby. Deck 6, forward has the balcony of the Palladium (Watch out for columns, when choosing seats, since some block the view of the stage.). Midship are the Boutiques, Photo Gallery, and Elevators (Birdcage style). Toward aft is the Conference Center, Schooner Bar and the South Pacific Lounge. Decks 7 & 8, are all suites and staterooms, except for beside the elevators where the Library, Card Room and Computer Center are located. Decks 9, 10 & 11, are all Public Areas: Deck 9 forward has the Windjammer Cafe (buffet dining), midship is the main pool, solarium and toward aft the Ship Shape Spa. Deck 10 has the Youth Centers forward, the jogging track, and the upper level of the Spa. Deck 11 holds the beautiful multi-level Viking Lounge with a wonderful view of the sea. FOOD & SERVICE The Hotel Director Tony O'Prey has a very well trained staff which insures excellent quality of food and service. In the Great Gatsby Dining Room, we had table 18A for two, with top notch service from our waiter Habib El Abed (Tunisia) and his assistants Helena Maslejova (Slovakia) and Decima or "Dee". The meals were nicely paced and everything the proper temperature, considering this station was the farthest from the galley. Maitre d' Yusuf Cavdar (Turkey) kept a close eye on everything, not only at the Captain's table (where we dined elegantly and deliciously with Captain Lachtaridis), but also at every table in the restaurant and in the Windjammer. Asst. Maitre d' Anna Frankowsa had a memory for details that made every meal pleasurable; she always went the extra mile. The TransAtlantic crossing had menus aimed to the American passengers' taste, while the Baltic trip had new menus to accommodate the many British and European passengers. These menus had numerous offerings and variety including vegetarian dishes and calorie counting Ship Shape items: Appetizers: Escargot, Spring Rolls, Grilled Portabellos, San Padre Crab Cake, Festival of Fruits (with Lychee nuts) etc.... Soups: Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, Crab & Shrimp Bisque, Thai Lemon grass Soup, N.E. Clam Chowder, etc.... Salads: Caesar's, Boston Mimosa, Oak leaf and Escarole, Cobb Salad, Titanic Salad (a` propos) etc.... Entrees: Filet Mignon, Duck a L'Orange, Sesame crusted Salmon, Pasta and Shrimp, Broiled Lobster, Lamb Gremolada, etc.... Desserts: Baklava, Chocolate Profiteroles, Apple Pie, Berry tart (or any tart, pear, apricot, all were great), Caramel Custard, Swan Puffs, etc... etc... etc... The food in the Windjammer was varied and fresh, but we prefer the dining room because trays are hard to handle for us. On board there is great ice cream and cookies (Macadamia nut, Oatmeal raisin, Pecan sandies, Chocolate chip, etc...), all fresh daily. We also lunched at the Solarium with Pizza, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and French Fries. Room Service is terrific on board, 24 hour, fast and fresh. We had full American Breakfast daily served in our stateroom --- what a way to start the day! RCI aims to please, and we feel that almost everything exceeded our expectations. CABIN During the transatlantic crossing we had Stateroom #7108 with balcony, and excellent service from Cabin Attendant Colbert Bodden. He placed a Chaise Lounge on the balcony for Vincent, and he kept our cabin spotless and homey. During the second stage of our trip, throughout the Baltic Sea, we were in wheelchair accessible Stateroom #3606, a large airy ocean view room with a huge bathroom/shower (8'X8') equipped with safety rails etc. This cabin was in beige and pastels with one picture of a lakeside garden on the wall. Simple, but nice. Roy Slate, our cabin steward, was exceptionally polite and took great care of us. Thank you, Roy! ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on board is in the capable hands of Cruise Director John Blair; he gives "110% effort." His show "A Tribute to Neil Diamond" should not be missed. Other headliners whom we enjoyed were as follows: John Christie in "The Best of R & R;" concert pianist Craig Dahn, a student of the great Liberace, in red sequined jacket and shoes, he played a Pagliacci air that was memorable; Italian tenor Renato Pagliari had a wonderful voice, but we wished he had sung more operatic arias than pop. The RCI Singers and Dancers were exceptionally good in "Tapestries: A Tribute to Carol King." The murder mystery "Lethal Libations" was funny and engaging. Social Hostess, Katrina Blair (Mrs John Blair), was excellent and so was John. This couple goes all out to entertain the passengers and their efforts are appreciated. There are many other games like the usual bingo, contests, athletics, etc..., going on every day. There is something for everyone. PORTS OF CALL Most of these ports were new to us and we enjoyed the lessons in geography and history. We flew into New Orleans from Miami on May 2nd. We don't like to fly in the same day as departure, if we can help it. We had supper at Mother's (Home of the "Poor Boy") and loved the ambiance of this great city --- Jazz and the French Quarter. May 3, 2003: New Orleans, Louisiana. Departure was delayed to accommodate a late plane with cruise passengers. We sailed down the Mighty Mississippi River and all was lovely until we passed "Gnatville." Vincent innocently opened the balcony door and bugs swarmed into the cabin. We attempted swatting them for 10 minutes, but quickly realized we needed help. The Purser sent up an exterminator, but, even after playing cards for an hour in our pajamas in the Card Room down the corridor, we still could not return to sleep there. We slept in another stateroom, thanks to the Purser, but, most of all, we learned a lesson about "Ole Man River." May 4, 5, & 6th: Days At Sea, we had a wonderful rest and sailed 1,727.8 Nautical miles to Bermuda. May 7 & 8th: Overnight at King's Wharf Naval Boat Yard, Bermuda. Arrival: 4:00 pm (The QEII left early and we docked at 3:00 pm). Departure: 1:30 pm the next day. From King's Wharf most guests took the ferry to Hamilton to see the Harbor Fest. The Clock Tower and the stone masonry were interesting. Pink sand beaches and English gardens make this a beautiful island. Available Shore Excursions: Scenic Bermuda by Rail and Bike ($67), Glass Bottom Safari ($36), Eco Tour by Kayak ($53), Trolley Tour ($25). The next four days were at Sea. May 9, 2003: While sailing East there was a thick fog surrounding the ship all day. Visibility was only one quarter to one-half mile. Sail on! May 10, 2003: the fog lifts. May 11, 2003 Happy Mother's Day. May 12, 2003, there are dolphins following the ship. May 13, 2003: 1,948.8 nautical miles to Punta Delgada, Azores (Portugal). Arrival: 7:00 am. Departure: 2:00 pm. Tours available: Fire Lake & Ribiera Grande, 3.5 hrs ($37); Village of Sete Cidades & Wine Tasting, 3.75 hrs ($44); Sete Cidades & Crater Lake for 3.5 hrs ($37) is the tour we chose. We visited beautiful volcanic mountains and a crater lake. There were many "happy" cows, as the Tour Guide called them, and stunning flowers growing wild (calla lilies, ginger and hydrangeas, etc). The white buildings are trimmed with black lava rock. The side walks are mosaics made out of black and white rocks (a preview of Lisbon's side walks). The tourists were happy too, after sampling the local fruit "brandies" and wines. May 14, 2003: At Sea and this was the first time we saw white caps on the Atlantic Ocean. There were dolphins again following the ship. It was 788.9 Nautical miles to Lisbon, or a total of 4,457 from New Orleans. May 15, 2003: Lisbon Portugal. Arrival: 7:00 am. Departure: 12:00 noon. Available Excursions: Tour of the city 3.75 hrs ($46) was our choice, with an excellent overview of the city and historic information; a must see is the Monument of the Discoveries with Prince Henry the Navigator leading the column. Other tours included Hiking for 4 hrs ($79), Biking for 4 hrs ($89) and Jeep Safari for 4 hrs ($89). May 16, 2003: At Sea. May 17, 2003: Lisbon to Le Havre, France is 914.6 Nautical miles. Arrival: 8:30 am. Departure: 10:30 pm. This city is excellent as a starting point for tours throughout central France and Normandy. Available Tours: Taste of Paris: 10.5 hrs ($111). Be prepared for two long rides and a short time in Paris. Beaches of Normandy: 10 hrs ($154), historical site of W.W.II. Mont St. Michel: 10 hrs ($165). This Abbey was built on a rock by the sea and has a charming village with cobblestone streets etc.... Alabaster Coast, Entretat & Fecamp: 5 hrs ($64). Scenic Chalk Cliffs and the Home of the famous Benedictine Liquor invented by Monk Bernardo Vincellio in 1510. There are many other tours: Versailles, Chateaux & Gardens of Normandy, Honfleur (where Monet painted) etc.... We opted to stroll around Le Havre, playing native with two baguettes tucked under our arms! We enjoyed window shopping and seeing what the French are really wearing and buying this season (Lots of khaki and beige with lace, romantic and fluttery for women and sporty with zippers every where for men). Le Havre to Zeebrugge, Belgium is 195.1 Nautical miles. May 18, 2003: Zeebrugge, Belgium. Arrival: 10:00 am. Departure: 7:00 pm. Available Tours: Brussels Sightseeing, 8 hrs ($130); Antwerp: 8.15 hrs ($130); Ghent & Belgian Chocolate: 4 hrs ($69). We chose to visit Brugge on the advice of several Belgian passengers we met on board. We had a wonderful day; we took the Blankenburg train into town (only 20 min. & handicapped go first class with special assistance in the train stations). We took a local tour from the town center, and ate in the Market Place Square in the De Beiaardier (The Bell ringer), where a young 21 year old Chef Kristof wowed us with grilled shrimp salad, filet mignon and Belgian waffles like we never had before! Then, of course, we shopped for Belgian lace and dolls. May 19, 2003: Zeebrugge to Harwich, England 103.9 Nautical miles. New Orleans, to Harwich, 5,679.1 Nautical miles. Arrival at Harwich meant disembarkation for most passengers, but not for more than 70 passengers, which Captain Lachtaridis dubbed "Frequent Floaters." We sailed on to the Baltic Sea and the Nordic nations. Harwich "Sail Away" was marvelous with a troop of kilt clad bagpipers in the McCallister Tartan (red with thin blue and green lines). Their show lasted for over an hour dockside. More about Harwich on our return. THE SECOND LEG OF OUR JOURNEY May 20 & 21, 2003: At Sea. The somewhat shallow Baltic (especially after the deep Atlantic Ocean) proved to be very calm and flat throughout this trip. May 22 & 23, 2003: St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight). Arrival 3:00 pm. Departure 6:00 pm, the next day. Sunrise 5:32 am, Sunset 10:49 pm (c. 17 hr. day). This city on the Neva River was founded by Peter the Great "as a window to the West" in 1703, and was celebrating its 300th year anniversary, with a spruce up for a visitation by many world leaders which occurred the days we were there, with President Putin hosting formal receptions. The "White Nights" of Russia are amazing. This phenomenon we experienced throughout the trip with days lasting up to 18 hours! When traveling with the ship tours no visa is necessary, but if going off alone a visa is necessary. There was a band at the port to greet the ship and it set a wonderful musical background. Available Tours: Pavlosk & Classical Concert, 3.5 hrs ($98); St. Petersburg Ballet, 3.5 hrs ($69); White Night River Cruise, 3 hrs ($69). We took the Hermitage Museum Tour 3.5 hrs ($56), but it was much too short for such an incredible place (5 linked buildings with more than 3 million exhibits). We got an overview at a rapid pace of numerous pieces of art collected at a rapid pace! Each display room had an elderly dour woman keeping an eye on the collections; but sadly, they did not speak any foreign languages, nor seem to be able to indicate directions or know details about the art work. May 24, 2003: Helsinki, Finland. Arrival 7:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:24 am, Sunset 10:10 pm (c. 18 hr. day). Helsinki is home to the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards (builders of many RCI ships including the Voyager Class ones and birth place of this ship, the Grandeur of the Seas). Helsinki's Senate Square has government buildings designed by C.L. Engell to resemble St. Petersburg. Among several available tours, we chose the City of Helsinki Tour, 3 hrs ($40). The most interesting sight was the Rock Church, carved out of a stone and with a copper tube ceiling which accounts for its wonderful acoustics. Annually it attracts over one million visitors to its religious services and concerts. While visiting we enjoyed the Bach Toccata & Fugue played by the church organist. It's quite impressive. We learned how to say "Good Bye" in Finnish "Hey, Hey." But we wish we hadn't, because both the people and the area are beautiful. May 25, 2003: Tallinn, Estonia. Arrival 7:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:27 am. Sunset 10:17 pm (c. 18 hr. day). This former USSR country is now the best port for shopping. Norwegian wool sweaters ($20 and up) and Russian collectibles are in abundance. This has a fairy tale like old town section, but there are also vestiges of the USSR too, with the huge housing projects for Russian workers, who settled here during the Soviet domination. Tours: We took the Panoramic Tallinn by Coach, 3 hrs ($28). We saw many turreted castles, the "Tower of Fat Margaret" and a very modern downtown. The Manor Houses of Estonia Tour, 6 hrs ($84) and the Countryside Cycling & Old Town, 5 hrs ($67) are two other popular tours. May 26, 2003: Stockholm, Sweden. Arrival 9:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 3:54 am. Sunset 9:36 pm. (c. 18.5 hr.day). All along the way sailing into this capital city were many pairs of swans, lovely little islands and beautiful trees and countryside! Every passenger remarked on the beauty of this city and said it was the most beautiful among the ones visited on this cruise. Tours: We took the Stockholm and Vasa Museum Tour 3 hrs ($46). We had read (over 40 years ago in Life magazine) about this remarkable Flag ship Vasa of the Swedish Navy which sank on the first day of her maiden voyage --- August 10, 1628. The beautiful oak warship was raised 333 years later and restored to its full glory, marvelous wooden sculptures and all. No one should miss this, it far surpassed our imaginations. There were many other tours, but none of this unique character. Seen from port is a beautiful castle with a green copper roof, many tourists mistake it for the King's palace. In actuality, it is a home for the elderly and the Swedes are proud of the exceptional care they give to them. Rightly so! May 27 & 28, 2003: Copenhagen, Denmark (overnight). Arrival 7:00 pm. Departure 6:00 pm the next day. Sunrise 4:08 am. Sunset 9:34 pm. (c. 17.5 hr. day). Copenhagen is the quaintest of all ports, with neat brick boutiques right at the port. Tours available: Tivoli Gardens by night ($18); Walking Tour 3 hrs ($36); Biking Tour 3 hrs ($57); City of Copenhagen 3 hrs ($39) was our choice of tour and it was nice. We saw the "Little Mermaid" in the bay (a tribute to Hans Christan Andersen) and the Amalienborg Palace (which is actually four "identical 18th century palaces"). May 29, 2003: Oslo, Norway. Arrival 9:00 am. Departure 6:00 pm. Sunrise 4:12 am. Sunset 10:09 (c. 18 hr. day). Sailing into the fjords was lovely, at times both sides of the ship had beautiful country side in view. This is the home of Sonja Henie, three time Olympic figure skating gold medalist and nine time World's champion. It is also where the first ski jump was constructed in 1892! Tours: We took the Oslo Highlights City Tour, 3 hrs ($40), which had a foggy start. We went to the Hollmenkollen Ski Tower which was used in the 1952 Olympics. The fog lifted and we just saw the top of the jump; looking up at it we had vertigo, we couldn't imagine skiing off it! This "Viking Capital" has an interesting Vigeland Park which contains a large number of granite and bronze statues by Gustav Vigeland. We plan to tour it on our next trip to Oslo. God willing. Hiking and the Nordmarka Forest, 4.5 hrs ($52) and Hadeland Glass Works & Viking, 5.5 hrs ($76) are other interesting tours. May 30, 2003: Harwich, England and Debarkation which was easy. First to depart the ship are those with flights on the same day. Next, were those with connections to London like us. A 2.5 hour bus ride took us directly to our Hotel Royal Lancaster on Hyde Park. We had stayed there before and its a great location with wonderful service. We had Fish n' Chips at the nearby Archer's Pub, and it was so good that we returned on Sunday for a traditional British dinner of Roast Beef, spring vegetables, oven roasted potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding! June 2nd we flew back to Miami, and our trip came to an end, but the memories are still bright. Now, that we have crossed off so many wonderful destinations, we have to add new ones to our future list of places to go and things to see: maybe, the South Pacific. SUGGESTIONS 1. We have been truly blest with so many fellow cruisers helping with the wheelchair at times. We appreciated those who held the elevators for us, etc. We thank those in the restaurant who provided tables near the entrance. RCI provided cards to reserve the front seats on buses for disabled. However, there were still those few obnoxious people who elbow people out of the way and occupy front seats. Therefore, we suggest that front seats on the tour buses should be reserved for those people with mobility problems. 2. Another suggestion is in regard to the Italian dishes served on RCI ships. We have already suggested in other reviews that if the line wishes to offer Italian food, RCI should hire an Italian chef to train others in the "art" of Italian cooking and the use of proper ingredients. Again on this ship, with the exception of once or twice, the pasta dishes did not meet our expectations, mainly for the use of strange spices, not common in the Italian Cuisine. The food, otherwise, has been very good with flashes of excellence and with plenty of choice on the menu. This has been a great cruise. We have already booked two other cruises on RCI ships, one in October on the Explorer and the other in December on the new Serenade. Happy Cruising!

Read More
  • New

Apr 25, 2003

Western Caribbean

Setting the stage: Second cruise for us. The last was on the Explorer of the Seas with our children and other family members. The Grandeur is about half the size of the Explorer and this allowed us to get to know some other people. We liked that. Also, this was the ship’s last cruise before repositioning to Europe for the summer and due to the late April itinerary, there were not a lot of children on board (ours stayed with Grandma).

There were lots of retirees. This was OK to me. There were small, but fun crowds at the late shows, dancing and midnight buffets (Chocolate lover’s and Gala). There was a contingent of young parents with small children and based on the view at the pool, they all loved it. Personally, I think RCCI had trouble filling the ship, because everyone talked about what a great deal they got on the price. This also meant that the ship was filled with lot’s of people who have flexibility in traveling and/or could drive to the port. In my opinion, 80% of the people came from the Mississippi River valley or one of its tributaries. A real middle-America cruise. Embarkation: This ship cruises out of New Orleans and was very easy to get to. My wife and I drove in from North Florida the morning of the cruise. I recommend parking at one of the off site locations and taking the respective shuttle bus. For us, the Fulton Place garage worked best. It is covered parking and the people we met waiting for the shuttle bus became our friends for the entire cruise. Unfortunately, there were excessive delays in boarding. It turned out, an altercation took place on board the last night of the previous cruise and the FBI had to board the ship when it arrived in port. This prevented anyone from disembarking until 12:00…a far cry from the usual 10:30 AM disembarkation complete. The ripple effect was substantial. This also had a significant impact on those who wanted to park in the parking area adjacent to the ships. There was lots of congestion that didn’t help the situation. Park off-site!! To the credit of RCCI, once we made it into the terminal, the procedure was well orchestrated and timely. Accommodations: We booked an inside cabin. Our last cruise was in a balcony cabin. We were thrilled with the inside. Most important, there was no sun creeping in the window to wake you up after a late night. It was pitch black, which allowed for good sleeping. We read on a previous review to bring a night-light, but for me it became a distraction and I pulled the plug on the second night. The cabin itself was in good condition and our steward did an excellent job of maintaining it. For us, it worked out very well, since we only used the cabin to sleep, change clothes and shower. We plan on booking inside from now on. Save the money and cruise more often. Dinner and meals: We chose the early seating and sat at a table for six in the center of the dining room. I have to say, many reviews that I have read talked about the quality of food on RCCI not being very good. This couldn’t be more WRONG. My wife and I were very impressed with the food. Presentation, size of portions, and taste were outstanding. We did not stray far from our waiter’s recommendations and all were excellent. As always, if you wanted a little more (two appetizers or desserts) they eagerly brought them. The toughest part was “what to eat” because all the food was so good. For other meals, my wife and I ate a late breakfast, and if we were hungry lunch, in the Windjammer. Once again, selection and taste was very good, especially for a buffet. I loved the Greek Salad with a sandwich or wrap. Our wait staff was excellent. I am always impressed at the level of service on a cruise ship. We had coffee the first night, after our meal, and after every other meal, a cup of coffee was served at the conclusion without asking. Cautionary note: I wanted tea a couple of nights instead and let the ass’t waiter know ahead of time. Ports of Call: Progreso, Mexico…we loved it…for very personal reasons. My wife and I just strolled the streets and took in the local flavor. We used to live in Latin America and this was like a trip down memory lane for us. We had an inexpensive, but good, lunch on the water and shopped in some of the local markets…off the beaten path. We felt safe and secure the entire time. Progreso is a small town at the end of an incredibly long pier. Apparently the cruise ships dock here for access to Chichen Itza, the Mayan ruins. Although some people took that trip, others took a trip to some ruins closer by. Quite a few others parked it on the beach for the day and drank $1 Corona’s and other inexpensive drinks. There were some folks who described a nightmarish trip on the Caves and Cavern’s snorkeling tour that resulted in their money being refunded. Apparently, it was not the “excursion they were expecting.” Progreso has a lot of charm and is significantly cheaper than other Caribbean ports. If you are a little adventurous and remember it is not the U.S., you can have a lot of fun. Cozumel, Mexico…OUTSTANDING. My wife and I were some of the first ones off the ship and we went snorkeling. We are avid snorkeler’s. We booked a snorkeling trip via the internet before we left and it was awesome. We snorkeled Colombia, Palancar, and La Francesa reef and still had time to eat lunch on the beach and catch a cab into town for some last minute shopping. We got back on the ship ten minutes before boarding time ended. If you visit this port and love to snorkel, I recommend you surf the net for some much better deals than the cruise-line excursions. We snorkeled the three reefs for $55. The ship wanted $46 for one reef. Try cozumelinsider.com or eagleraydivers.com for some info. Key West, Florida….A wash out. We arrived at 2:00 PM and were looking forward to a wonderful afternoon and evening in this town, but only had time to take in the Mel Fisher museum, before we were deluged by a storm during the conch train tour. Unfortunately, the rain only let up enough around 8:00 PM to lull us into a false sense of security. We made it to the Hog’s Breath and then round 2 began. To get the full picture on the rain, the water came up to my wife’s knees both times (She’s 5’2”). Mopeds were being knocked over, bikes couldn’t move. In the future, I recommend taking the Conch Train immediately, so you get the feel for the island. It is very beautiful and the tour covers everything, allowing you the time to see things and then decide what to do next. Days at sea: We loved the 3.5 days at sea. Usually, you only get a couple of days at sea and visit four ports. My wife and I love the ship, relaxing around the pool, the bars and the shows. Consider the number of days at sea when you book your cruise and remember, you don’t have to ever leave the ship Entertainment: OUTSTANDING. We attended every show after dinner and were rewarded with some fabulous singing, dancing, and comedy. The two shows by the Royal Caribbean Singer’s and Dancer’s were awesome. The impressionist was outstanding. The magic show was the only weak link. It was a little long on choreography and a little short on magic, for me. Also, the comedian on the last night at sea was hilarious to me, but the rest of the ship was not impressed. The majority of people on this ship were from middle America and did not like the comedian’s New York humor. My wife and I spent a lot of time at the South Pacific Lounge in the evening listening (and performing) to Kareoke and the late night comedy acts. Additionally, dancing in the Viking Crown Lounge was great. I would have liked to spend more time in the piano bar (Schooner Bar), but it was a little too smoky, for me. The amount of orchestrated activities from the cruise staff was just right. Not too much, not too little. Just enough to break up the day and get a good laugh. I understand other cruise-lines offer tons of poolside activities. Disembarkation: Quick, uneventful and without surprises. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM and in the car driving home by 9:00 AM. RCCI arranges the disembarkation by the way you arrived. Priority goes to the folks meeting flights that were booked by them, and then the next priority goes to others meeting flight arrangements. Everyone can’t exit at the same time, so they have to have a plan. For those who drive, you could end up waiting a couple of hours after you vacated your room. This is perhaps the worst part of the cruise. It must be done this way, because the cruise ship terminal, customs and immigration cannot handle everyone at once. For those who drive, a little hint. You can pick up “white” bag tags from your cabin steward or purser’s desk the night before you leave. White tags are the first to disembark and this will ensure you are well on your way home as soon as possible.

Read More
  • New

Apr 25, 2003

Western Caribbean

As I was reading these reviews I came across one that was written about the very trip I was on. It was a good review so I decided to write a review also, I will be borrowing from his format as the review was presented nicely. Setting the Stage: This was our first cruise. If there is one thing I have never wanted to do, never dreamed about or longed for it is taking a cruise. I enjoy flying, staying in hotels and exploring on my own.

However, it was given to me as a gift and I have to admit I did find myself getting excited about taking this cruise once it was arranged. We were traveling with a large group of retirees and at 44 we were the youngest in the group, My Mom, sister and brother in law were the only other people we knew in this group. We flew in from Cincinnati to New Orleans the morning of the cruise and had lunch at nice restaurant a couple of blocks from the ship. Embarkation: When we arrived it was very crowded and I heard others comment on how surprised they were at the crowd. It turned out there had been a problem on the previous cruise the night before. The other guests were not allowed to disembark until around noon. I did get a little worried at one point as we were waiting in line to board the boat when I heard the loud speaker from the ship calling everyone on deck for the life jacket/boat safety instructions. However we made the boat but were probably among the last 100 people to board. Accommodations: We had a cabin with a view of the ocean but we were upgraded to a room with a balcony. I had heard horror stories about the cabins and was not expecting much out of the cabin. I was amazed at how large it was, there was a king size bed, a couch, coffee table, even a small fridge in our room. I must admit the bathroom was very small but over all I was impressed with the cabin size. The room was very nice and the only negative thing I could say about it was the glass on the inside of our balcony needed a good cleaning with some windex, with that being the only draw back I'd have to give our room on a scale of 1-10, an 8. Our steward was outstanding, when he saw us coming back from dinner in the evenings he would open the door. He always greeted us with "good morning/evening/afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Dalton". Never having taken a cruise I was tickled when I returned to our cabin and found he had made a stuffed dog out of towels and put my husbands glasses on the dog. Every evening after I looked forward to seeing what new trick he come up with for the towels and I was never disappointed. Dinner and Meals: Our wait staff was wonderful they were very professional with just a touch of humor. The meals at the main dinning room were superb. Eloquently prepared and served. The windjammer (a buffet type restaurant on the boat) had OK meals, but by the end of the cruise I caught on that they must have had a few ton of the frozen potatoes on board and just fixed them differently depending on the meal. There was a solarium where you could order hamburger or hot dogs, pizza, fries and ice cream. We occasionally did this for lunches. I had heard stories about midnight buffets and how wonderful the food was on a cruise. I probably was expecting to much in the way of food and with the exception of the main dinning room I would have to give the meals on a scale of 1-10, a 6. They did have two midnight buffets one was a chocolate gala, which was beautiful to look at. They had ice carvings and everything was set up elegantly. One night they had a Mexican Fiesta in the evening but because of the weather we did not attend and I later heard the weather pretty much ruined the attendance. They had two formal nights, but because other people in our party had decided before the cruise not to attend, my husband and I followed suit and did not bring any formal ware. I was sorry I chose not to attend and on my next cruise I will definitely join in those festivities. Ports of Call Progresso, Mexico: When we arrived at our first port, after two days at sea, I was very excited to finally get off the ship. We decided ahead of time to not book any shore excursions and to explore on our own. I can tell you on my next cruise I will be much smarter. We took a bus into town and for me it was culture shock. It felt like something out of a bad movie. I must say I have never been to Mexico and was expecting to see something out of television advertisements for resort vacations. Progresso is a new port and the town is very poor. We rode into town on a bus that was probably 30 years old with no air conditioning and the front windshield was cracked. When we first entered the town, we passed two military type people standing on the corner with their automatic riffles at their side. We got off the bus at an area that was fenced in with many vendors. I did enjoy the shopping and trying to bargain for deals even though I probably did not get a big bargain, I walked away feeling as though I did. We ventured out into the town on our own and I was amazed at how the people live. I am not trying to come off snobbish here, but I am surprised this port was on a cruise vacation. Other people in our party went on the shore excursions and had a wonderful time at the Aztec Ruins. The ships departure was held up for a couple of hours because they had to replace a broken part on the ship this did not have any affect on our cruise. Cozumel, Mexico: Again we took no shore excursions and ventured out on our own. We walked around a bit and we really should have at least taken a bus into town. My fondest memories of Cozumel were from a little bar right next to the ship called "Senior Frogs." I can say I had a very nice time, the water was gorgeous, I had only seen the Atlantic Ocean so I was very impressed with the beauty of the Caribbean. I have regrets for not going snorkeling or participating in some water activity. My thinking when not chosing a water excursion was that I was going to spend so much time on a ship, why would I want an excursion which once again put me on the water. I learned much about cruises from the mistakes I made at this port but I have to say I enjoyed Cozumel. Key West, Florida: Because we were reentering the United States we had to go through customs before being allowed to leave the ship. I was not happy about this and thought it would be a very long process, however I felt the process went smoothly. Once again we had not booked any off shore excursions and once off the ship we saw others headed for the Conch Train. I made up my mind I was going to make the most of this port, I have been to Florida many times but never had made it to the Keys and I was going to enjoy this! hahaha......The weather however had no intention of allowing me this one satisfaction from a cruise where I had repeatedly made poor choices about how I was going to spend my time on shore. Half way through the Conch Train tour the skies broke loose and rained like I have never seen them rain before. We stood at the depot we were dropped at after the tour was finished and I watched in dismay as the streets filled with water running over the curbs to the sidewalks, I sadly returned to the ship. Later that evening it stopped raining and I coaxed my party to venture back onto shore so we could party the night away. We were not on shore one hour when again the rain began. We made it to Sloppy Joe's bar, where we found a table and sat and drank while we watched them stack sandbags up at the door to keep the rain outside. When we decided we had enough and wanted to go back to the ship we stepped outside, the water was up to my knees. I am just a hair under 5 . We finally flagged down a taxi not caring what price we paid for the fare and with our tails tucked between our legs went back to the ship. Trip Back to New Orleans: We were once again at sea for two days on our way back to New Orleans, if my husband was ever in danger of "sleeping with the fish" it was during this time period. He had grown restless with the ship and was eager to get back home, he was successful at showing his discontent to all who could bare to be in his presence. This of course should have no bearing on Royal Caribbean, but be a note to those of you who grow restless with staying in once place to long. On the trip back the Captain, who was wonderful and had an awesome sense of humor, made an announcement that once a year he has to check the ships navigational settings and we would be doing a 360 degree turn on our trip back, he said we probably would not even be aware the ship was turning. He was right, if I had not watched the wake left by the ship I would have had no idea we were going in one big circle. Summery: For someone who never had any interest in a cruise I did enjoy myself and was very impressed with Royal Caribbean. We are going on another cruise this April, once again I'll be sailing with RCCL and I am very happy with them. We are headed to Hawaii this year and I will be researching the ports of call ahead of time and spending my shore time wiser. My husband will get to spend four days at sea before we reach Hawaii, I've warned him if he intends to enjoy the Islands he better behave on the trip there. :)

Read More
  • New

Apr 11, 2003

Western Caribbean

Arrival We selected this itinerary for our spring break cruise with our two teenagers, our second RCL cruise, 17th overall. We flew down the morning of departure to New Orleans, arriving at the airport about 11:40am. We had arranged for a limo with an agency we found on the web boards, and a white stretch limo with a bottle of champagne was waiting for us by 12:15 in the parking garage across from baggage carousel number eight, as

they had said it would be. While the emails from the vendor indicated we could pay by credit card, the driver would only take cash. The limo is cheaper than a taxi for four. We arrived at the Juliett St Terminal with 9 bags about 12:45, and whisked through embarkation process in 20 minutes. They did have us fill out a SARS virus questionnaire. We were aboard by 1:10pm, with sailing scheduled for 5pm, so had plenty of time to explore, check dining table assignment, and have lunch before the scheduled 4:30pm life boat drill. We purchased a soft drink sticker for my son for $23 for unlimited fountain drinks. We also purchased a 12 drink, nonalcoholic, card for my daughter for $21 which included “smoothies”, which are her favorite. Our bags arrives about 3:30pm Cabin Grandeur is in fine shape, showing no wear, in our opinion. We were assigned two adjoining balcony cabins on deck 7, starboard side, just aft of midships. Each cabin had a queen sized bed made from two twins but were very comfortable. They each also had a sofa bed that opened into a double. There was plenty of storage of two people per cabin, but four would have been tight. Lots of small shelves, cabinets, and a mini-refrigerator, dressing table, coffee table, and two chairs and a small table on the balcony. The balconies are very private, with no observation at all from above, and from the adjacent balcony you would have to lean or peer to see the next balcony. The standard bathroom had a shampoo dispenser in the shower, but no other amenities. The one drawback to the location was that the cabins were located over the Schooner Bar and they played music and vocals there until about 12:30am which could be heard in the cabin. We were assigned table for four, as requested, table 136 on the main floor of the Great Gatsby dining room. It is a large two level room, the main floor on deck 4. The lunch in the Windjammer Café on deck 9, the pool, solarium, and spa deck, was typical buffet fare, but had the addition of a taco bar, a sandwich or wrap bar, and a dessert buffet. The Windjammer is a light, airy room in the front of the ship overlooking the bow, unlike most other ships where the buffet room is all the way aft on the ship. I liked the arrangement. Lifeboat drill in mandatory, and they repeatedly announced they were checking cabins to ensure everyone was on deck. Due to late arrival on the pier of some supplies, the ship sailed about 45 minutes late, at 5:45pm. As daylight savings time had arrived the week before, the first two hours of the trip down river to the gulf was in daylight. The old Commodore Lines Enchanted Isle is still moored, rusting, downriver. Food My impression on my first RCL cruise about 4 years ago was that RCL had great physical plant, layouts and mediocre food. For the first half of the cruise I felt the same. I expect cruise food to have a “wow” factor, and things I don’t cook at home. The basic lunch and dinner menus for the dining room are contained in the Welcome directory in the cabin, so we could see what to expect and could plan our wine accordingly. We bring our own champagne for cabin consumption and wine for the dining room, were we gladly pay the $8 corkage fee, when/if they charge it (5 of 7 nights this week). The lunch in the Windjammer Café on deck 9, where the pool, solarium, and spa are also located, was typical buffet fare, but had the addition of a taco bar, a sandwich or wrap bar, and a dessert buffet. The Windjammer is a light, airy room in the front of the ship overlooking the bow, unlike most other ships where the buffet room is all the way aft on the ship. I liked the arrangement. For dinners we were assigned a table for four, as requested, table 136 on the main floor of the Great Gatsby dining room. It is a large two level room, the main floor on deck 4. Each day the lunch and dinner menus are posted outside the dining room by morning, and there are a few additions beyond the basic menu. Regardless of the menu, every day options include New York strip steak and Norwegian salmon. The directory had listed no lobster night, no escargot, no beef Wellington or Chateaubriand. But, fortunately, they saved the best for last. Day 4 was a Mardi Gras dinner, with typical Louisiana/New Orleans fare, including shrimp etoufee, gumbo, catfish and fried chicken, followed by an optional terrific serving of Bananas Foster, if desired. We also had escargot, shrimp cocktail and lobster on the second formal night –day 6 after leaving Key West early in the day. Other entrees we enjoyed included Duck ala Orange, strip sirloin and filet mignon steaks with bernaise sauce, rack of lamb and roast lamb, a variety of fish including tilapia, cod, halibut, mahi-mah, salmon and others. Breakfast in the dining room includes eggs benedict every day, and the Windjammer breakfast includes all the usual buffet items plus eggs and omelets to order. No tomato juice for us type 2 diabetics, though. Only fruit juices. There were two midnight buffets, a chocolate buffet early in the week, and the Grand buffet on Thursday, the second formal night. In the end, I was well satisfied with the food. One night the waiters danced with lighted cakes on their heads, another night they marched and sang, and the last night they all paraded to the stairway in the dining room carrying national flags. The Matre De was very visible, stopped by the table every night, and even sampled our wines when I offered him the opportunity. The Wait Staff was efficient, and even perhaps a bit too quick for my taste. But they remembered our preferences for tea or milk, or a fruit and cheese plate for dessert. We enjoyed room service full breakfast on the balcony twice, and my kids enjoyed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other snack, including pizza slices from room service. The normal room service 24-hour menu is somewhat limited, but during dining room lunch and dinner hours the full menu from the dining room is available from room service. Entertainment The welcome show the first night was a comedian and welcome by the cruise director and dancers. The evening shows in the Palladium generally offered a first show at 7pm for those who had late seating at dinner, and another show, at 9pm, I believe, for those who went to main seating so they could attend after dinner. Sunday night was a Review of Broadway musical shows. Monday was another comedian. Tuesday was a show, The Beat Goes On, a musical review of the 50’s through the 90’s. Wednesday, where the ship remains overnight in Key West, was an Illusionist. Thursday was an impressionist, and Friday they had a matinee show at 2pm, their first ever they said, a Carol King Tapestry musical review. In addition to the usual bingo and casino, ice carving, napkin folding, and cooking demos and wine tasting for those interested, there were multiple venues for dancing from pre-dinner through late night. One we especially enjoyed was the Glen Fox Trio playing in the Centrum Lounge. Most nights when there wasn’t a reception planned there, in the South Pacific Lounge the show band played dance music ranging from big band sounds to 50-60’s night, to 70’-90’s mix. The Viking Crown Lounge had romantic dancing most nights for an hour before it turned into a disco at 10:30. No one under 18 allowed in the disco. Children There are organized programs for children 6-10 years, 11-14. and 15-17, with a daily schedule of events delivered to the cabins. There is also baby-sitting service available in cabin with 24 hour advance request, and centralized baby sitting in the children’s center for the younger ones. As it was spring break for our 13 and 15 year old, there were a significant number of children and teens aboard, but not so many as to be disruptive. The Solarium Pool and Hot tubs enforce a rule that no one under 16 is allowed, despite the nearby pizza/hamburger station. This is a lovely lounging area around the pool with the retractable roof. Water kept at 77 degrees in the pool with some powerful water jets in it. The main, open-air pool was where the children congregated. Special Events As it was Holy Week, and Passover, the ship had some accommodations for this. A Catholic priest had mass every day in the South Pacific Lounge at 8am. On Friday of Passover there was an interfaith service also in the afternoon. The Captain’s Welcome aboard reception was held on Sunday, the first formal night, with mixed drinks and light appetizers served by roaming waiters. Photos/portraits are available only for about three one-hour periods, an hour before the two dinner seatings and one hour after. Lines were shorter than we had experienced on other lines. The Crown & Anchor Society/Repeaters Reception was held on Monday evening, with champagne for all and hot and cold appetizers from self-service buffet stations. The Crown & Anchor Society Platinum and Diamond level reception was held on Thursday from 11:45am-12:30pm in the Viking Crown Lounge, and offered champagne, steamed shrimp, hot and cold appetizers, and even a free “smoothie” for my daughter. These were easily the best such events we have attended in 17 cruises. The Captain, a 37 year old Argentinean, is personable, mixes a lot, and has sense of humor. In addition to his shipboard experience, he also has helped in the construction/outfitting of Voyager class vessels. Repeaters/Crown & Anchor Society members also receive a coupon booklet for free wine tasting, a 2 for 1 drink, spa and shop discounts, bingo cards, and the casino. I was surprised at how few tuxedos were worn on either formal night, less than I have observed on any of our 17 cruises except on Royal clipper. The first one was listed as “Formal Desired”, the second as “Formal/Suit and Tie.” There are far more tuxedos today on Carnival Spirit class ships than on the Grandeur last week. We enjoy, especially my wife and daughter, dressing formally once in a while, and even my teen-aged son seems to feel special dressed in his tux. They also have a flower cart available every night before dinner. I prefer to have corsages made up for my wife and daughter, and they readily accommodated me when I stopped by the purser’s desk to inquire. I found our later that the head housekeeper made them up: a single red rose with baby’s breath for my wife and a similar one for a wrist corsage for my daughter. A little duct tape added to the installed safety pin and wrist ribbon tie---a newly discovered additional use of duct tape. Grandeur, homeported in New Orleans, tries to continue the theme, focused on the Louisiana Bicentennial, by offering daily Louisiana based classic movies, zydeco dance lessons several days, a Mardi Gras theme dinner, and a late night Mardi Gras dance party. We brought our beads and masks, but few others did. The late night get together was a disappointment, as it was mostly line dancing and reggae music from the pool band, and a taco buffet bar, no less. The staff tossed a few beads and masks but that was about it for the late night Mardi Gras event. A personal observation I made was how receptive the staff was to special requests. Whether it was my request for corsages, or a special request for a birthday cake for my about to become a teen daughter, or a request to accommodate us for late delivery of an invitation to our cabin, or to make an adjustment on our account, the staff seemed generally eager to please us.   Ports Calls Progresso: Arrived in Progresso at 8am. We went ashore about 10:30 and rode a free shuttle bus down the 3 mile length of the pier into town. We visited the local indoor market which included butchers, a fish market which included sharks, a local version of a food court, and general shops. Across the street was an open tourist market next to the local library, where the shuttle bus drops people off. T-shirts were 5 for $20, necklaces $4, and so on. They accepted US currency and gave change in USD. We then walked to the beach, which is just east of the long pier. It is on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, so the prevailing winds are a bit stronger and the water is churned and sandy. Fine for body surfing but not suitable for snorkeling at all. The beachfront is lined for blocks with restaurants and bars, and on the beach are tented areas where food and beverage can be served by the restaurants. There were plenty of lounge chairs and no one asked us for any rental fee in the several hours we were there. We ate at one of the restaurants, name in Spanish: The Old Man & the Sea. They have bathrooms and changing areas in the restaurant, and they accept Visa cards. There are many roaming vendors, but they are not persistent and move on if you show no interest. We paid $34 for 4 beers, 2 large bottles of coke, nachos for two, grilled marinated shrimp, and a chili cheeseburger. The last bus to the ship left at 4pm, and the ship sailed at 4:30. Cozumel: We have been here numerous times and love Cozumel. After many trips to Chankanaab we decided to try the beach resort at Playa Sol, which I had not visited in years. The ship arrived at 9am, and the Carnival Holiday and Victory were already there at the new international pier. We berthed at the next pier, closer to town, where Senor Frogs has opened a ½ Senor Frogs, with a pool. The duty free shops here are not as elaborate as those at the newer pier. Taxi for 4 to Playa Sol was $14. Admission, including all facilities, is $8 each, and I had a $1 coupon from their website. You need one coupon per person and the website isn’t always up. For those wanting unlimited beer and rum punch and soft drinks, the cost is $30 each, and for unlimited beverage and a luncheon buffet the cost is $37, a bit much in my opinion. I purchased a beer and a rum punch for $8. They take VISA at the gate. Snorkeling was fair, with some underwater manmade Mayan structures where fish congregate. Water is clear, but there were many tiny jellyfish. I felt no sting, however. Lounge chairs are included in the admission fee, but beach umbrellas may be rented for $4. There are showers and restrooms, but no lockers that I could see. We then took a taxi into the far end of town for $20. Visited Diamonds International to replace my wife’s engagement ring, which they had ready, after swapping stones, in an hour. We stopped at Viva Mexico to shop and then walked to the new location of Senor Frogs and Carlos and Charlie’s at the extreme other end of the waterfront strip. Carlos and Charlie’s is now a first floor venue, and Senor Frogs is above it on the second floor. Both are owned by the same family. My daughter had a Yard of virgin strawberry daiquiri and announced that when she grows up she wants to go there and live at Senor Frogs. Wrong! As usual we had a great time and lunch there. They also take VISA. Taxi back to the ship was $10 and we returned to the ship by the 5pm deadline. Key West: Arrived at 11:30 at the channel. US Immigration reps boarded and spent the next two hours, while the ship steamed in and berthed at the Hilton/Hyatt piers, checking everyone’ passports or birth certificates and picture ID’s. We were the only ship in port that day. They allowed passengers ashore by 1:45pm and we left about 2:30. We walked around Duval Street, toured the Curry Mansion in where my wife and I had stayed for a week several years ago, visited Fat Tuesday’s and Hard Rock Café, then headed to the Half Shell Raw Bar for lunch. We enjoyed fish and chips made from mahi-mahi, a pound of Key West Gold (large steamed shrimp), conch chowder and conch fritters, and an oyster shooter which includes a free glass. The latter is not on the menu and you have to ask for it. With beers, soda’s and tips it was just over $50. Half Shell is a Key West institution, on the waterfront, no pretense, but great food. After Key Lime Pie on a stick, we wandered back to Mallory Square for the sunset events preceding the 7:45pm EDT sunset. We enjoyed the unicyclist, the one man band, dog show, acrobats, artisans and food booths. Since the ship remains on New Orleans CDT all week, we returned in plenty of time for our 8:30pm second seating dinner. After dinner we walked back briefly into town with my 13 year old daughter, but she was not allowed with us in Sloppy Joe’s or Irish Kevin’s, so we were not able to do the night time pub crawl we had looked forward to. The ship doesn’t sail until 5:30am the next day. Debarkation On Friday colored luggage tags were distributed based on your departure flight arrangements. With a 12:20 flight we obtained orange tags. Bags were to be put in the halls between 7 and 11pm. Comment cards were distributed. If you prefer to have gratuities charged to you Sea Pass card, you must submit a form by Wednesday. Otherwise envelopes are available for use on the last night. Comment cards are distributed on Friday, as are customs declaration forms. The ship sailed upriver Friday night arriving about 3am in New Orleans. By the 7am wake up call all bags were already ashore. They asked they we vacate our cabins by 8am. The Windjammer serves breakfast 6:30 to 8am, and the dining room from 7-8:30. By 8:30 the ship had been cleared and the first tags called. We were in the second set of tags, and were called as we finished our breakfast. No one even asked for the customs declaration. Our bags were waiting and we were at the curb before 9am. Our limo was not there, and we had to call the dispatcher, as the number we had went to voice mail. The limo arrived about 9:35 and we were at the airport by 10am for our flight. The embarkation and debarkation are remarkably quick and easy. I was impressed. In summary, we loved the ship, enjoyed itinerary, and would enjoy the same cruise on the same ship again. What higher compliment can I pay? It is funny how a 2,100 passenger, 7 year old ship is thought of as old with all the new behemoths coming on line. I prefer this size and style of ship. Well done, Grandeur.

Read More
  • New

Mar 29, 2003

Western Caribbean

We both enjoyed this cruise very much. Our ports of call, Progresso, Cozumel and Key West. Cozumel and Key West were fun, Progresso was a bit depressing. We did not do any excursions as we have been to these ports of call before except for Progresso. The food, service, and entertainment was excellent. The casino was a bit disappointing. We enjoy gambling but the slots were very tight.This was our 5th cruise though the 1st with Royal

Caribbean. I have never seen a friendlier captain. Most cruises you will see the captain @ the captains dinner. I saw this captain several times during our week cruise. We are hoping to do the Southern Caribbean in the near future. Royal Caribbean will definitely be considered.

Read More
  • New

Mar 29, 2003

Western CaribbeanWe have

sailed Royal Caribbean twice before. This cruise made me remember why we came back with them. The Grandeur was fantastic, food and service outstanding. I have absolutely only good things to say about this cruise. We left from New Orleans and departure went without any problems. Shows were very good. I highly recommend this ship and this cruise

  • New

Dec 14, 2002

Western Caribbean

Upon entering the port in New Orleans we could see the ship and our excitement grew. My daughter and her husband and three children and I and two friends had been looking forward to this cruise for a good while. We always book early. I was amazed at the beauty of the ship. It was highly decorated and very clean. I spent lots of time roaming about enjoying the ship and its art. There were Christmas Trees everywhere as this was the

week before Christmas. I guess my only complaint was in the Childrens areas. While they were big and spacious and had lots to do, the crew there seemed more interested in reminding us to pickup at 5 instead making the kids feel welcome. We had been spoiled by a wonderful crew on another cruise lines that made our kids feel extremely welcome and still a year later write letters and keep in touch. I do realize it is a business and friendships cannot be made each trip however they did not feel as welcome as we the adults did where we went. The Drifters proved to take me back to memories of my teenage years. What a great surprise that they gave a concert. The ports of call were enjoyable I see Progresso growing and becoming a great port in a few years. The food was good, but not exceptional.I was disappointed that several times we wanted to eat both places to eat were closed. But the wait staff made the experience a wonderful one. My favorite spot was in the lounge area beside the salon where you could look out to where you were leaving. It was a great experience overall.

Read More
  • New

Nov 23, 2002

Western Caribbean

1st Cruise Ship: Grandeur of the Seas 2002 There are travelers, tourists and vacationers. If you are the latter, this cruise is for you. Let me start by saying we are travelers, and with our cruise curiosity being sated now, we are not planning another cruise ... unless it's first class and free. That being said, the following is what we thought of the Grandeur of the Seas and our cruise experience. We read the more recent reviews

of our ship prior to sailing and brought a small coffee pot on board. As it turned out, we enjoyed the coffee and we never unpacked the coffeemaker which remained packed on top of the books. The coffee could have been either changed by the ship or the other reviewers must like lame coffee. The ship was beautiful. We truly enjoyed the aesthetics. The artwork was plentiful and high quality. I am an artist and I was delighted to wander around looking at the art. At the end of the cruise, I went back looking for one of my favorite pieces to get a picture and never did find it. Great art was everywhere. The boat was very well designed. We agreed with the other reviewers that the promenade deck was a great design and the wood decking comfortable and nice looking; however, we were surprised at how we had the deck all to ourselves most of the cruise. The decor was tasteful and comfortable all over. We found space to put everything away in our cabin and had room to spare. The center atrium was magnificent. She is a pretty ship in Bristol condition. We personally did not mind, but there were many complaints from other passengers about our itinerary. Everybody is a captain! We stopped at Progreso and Cozumel in Mexico and Key West, FL. Again, we consider ourselves travelers so we are curious about every place we go. With the ports of call subject to change, we do not suggest anyone try to see the world via this form of transportation. So all you armchair mariners, if you are going to whine about ports of call, stay home or stay onboard and go play bingo. Weather, fuel economy and politics can change a heading in a heartbeat. "The best plan on any boat is no plan at all" sayeth a 14 yr. old, swamptrash dockbilly in Florida. We took the Chichen Itza excursion out of Progreso and the box lunch was terrible. Lots of people do not like tuna fish on cardboard and I happen to be one of them. We felt gouged by the food on that tour. It was crap. For the price of the tour ($98), we had higher hopes for our lunch. Convicts eat better. We enjoyed our guide and the tour was great. Likewise the food onboard was nothing to brag about. The service onboard was great, the food bit the dust except the desserts. Fire the cook, keep the pastry chef. The cruising experience in general was relaxing and very enjoyable on a social level. We enjoy talking to people and we loved nearly everyone we met onboard. It is a happy, positive experience for families to dine together without the pressures of production and clean up. Incidentally, we were onboard during Thanksgiving week and there were more families than normal. We enjoyed the kids. We recommend this cruise from New Orleans, LA or any other cruise out of the Big Easy as we are partial to New Orleans and Louisiana's. We cannot imagine how bland and colorless other cruises must be, after we found the local passengers on this ship such a highlight on our cruise.

Read More
  • New

Oct 18, 2002

Western Caribbean

I'd first like to say to anyone reading this review that you're welcome to send me e-mail, asking about further details of anything I comment about. Second, for the negative comments (and I've got plenty of 'em!), keep in mind that I'm a fairly positive, easy-going person, always willing to give someone or something the benefit of the doubt....so for me to ding something, it must've really made a bad impression. Some more background

info - This review is for the trip we took on 10/19/02, sailing from New Orleans, on the Grandeur of the Seas. This was our first cruise; my wife and I are in our early 30's. There’s a quick summary at the very end, if you want to skip the details. So here we go... THE GOOD - For the most part, the ports of call. Grand Cayman and Cozumel (beach areas) are beautiful. Progreso itself was fairly unimpressive (not counting its huge port area, of course), but this is really just a stopping point to get to all the Mayan ruins that are in the area anyhow, so you're not really there just to visit Progreso. Progreso was still recovering from the recent hurricanes (Lili, Isidore), but the tour buses (which were very nice, and air-conditioned) are right there to wisk you to your tour, and we didn't have any problems getting to our destination (Dzibilchaltun). Dzibilchaltun is a nice alternative, if you don't feel like spending 2.25 hours (each way) on a bus to get to the more popular Chichenn-Itza or Xumal sites. And if you didn't know it already, it's HOT there. Dang hot. Folks who live in Phoenix all year even say it's hot. You've GOT to swim with the stingrays in Grand Cayman. Be warned, however, that the group that runs that outfit gets pretty overwhelmed, so it'll take you a good while just to get to the boats to take you to the 'rays. Be prepared for 1-2 hours of standing around, just to catch the shuttles that take you around the island to the boats that take you out. Once you've done it, though, you'll practically forget how long it took you to get there. Until you write your cruise review anyhow. For Cozumel, we did the 4x4 tour thing; had GREAT guides for this. If you've never taken a small jeep over REALLY rough roads, but you'd like to, this is for you. Since we've done that sort of thing plenty of times, we probably should have chosen to swim with the Dolphins, but live and learn. It was still fun. The beach you get to see is beautiful, the Mexican buffet they give you for lunch is awesome, and the fact that you get to visit the Pee Pee Station (seriously) makes it worth it. As far as the ship is concerned, our cabin steward was very good, though she did have a couple of misses (which could probably be attributed to a communication breakdown between us and her). The room was always tidied up nicely, and the bed neatly made. Our lead waitress (Patronia) was very gracious and attentive every evening, and did a great job. The bartenders made awesome drinks (especially in the casino), and the pool areas were always bustling, but kept very tidy. The shows were pretty entertaining, too. THE BAD - Not enough time in port, at least in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Would've been nice to have as much time at those two ports as at Progreso. And how 'bout some snorkeling lessons on the ship, for cryin' out loud? If you're a newbie/novice to snorkeling, don't take any outings that require that; would've been nice to have some intro to that, for us rookies. It's assumed you know how to snorkel, if you choose an outing that does that. NOTE - you DO NOT need to know how to snorkel to do the stingray thing; you're in waist-deep water for that. Don't get a deck 8 cabin (at least not one with a balcony) in the center of the ship; it's right below the pool deck, and the noise from the band(s) or metal-on-metal screeching from sliding deck chairs REALLY gets annoying....especially if you're pooped from an outing and wanting to crash early, but the band is still playing at 11 PM by the pool....or want to sleep in a bit, but those 8 AM sunbathers are finding primo positioning of their chairs. For that deck, the front or rear of the ship would probably be a better choice. If you get a cabin with a balcony, naturally you're going to pay more...but that doesn't get you any extra pampering. You get the same treatment rather you get an inside cabin on deck 3 or the luxury suite on deck 8. But at least you get to experience some great sights. Here's a biggie, though - yes, the bed got made nicely, but the sheets DO NOT get changed every night. Seriously. My wife caught this one. We had two twin mattresses that got pressed together to make a 'queen', and it has to be one of the most uncomfortable beds we've ever slept on. The mattresses were very worn, and each sagged terribly in the middle (they really needed to be replaced); the huge seam/rift that they created when pressed together was not very conducive to being able to sleep with one's spouse. Sadly, this is what you get when you ask for a queen size bed. Also, the carpeting was very worn, and really needs to be replaced. The cabin really shows its wear and depreciation. The ship shimmies and shakes pretty good when moving along, even on really calm seas, especially when going faster than 15 knots (about 17 mph). Don't know if this is normal, but figured I'd mention it, since it was rather irritating, as we experienced it a lot. The head waiter was a figurehead, and the assistant waiter dropped the ball many times, and could've been much more attentive. He lost a bottle of our wine at dinner one night, and tried to replace it with a cheaper variety to compensate. Totally classless. And they ran out of sour cream on prime rib/baked potato night! So after finishing my prime rib, suddenly the head waiter shows up with sour cream he managed to scrounge from somewhere; when I told him it was too late, I was already done, he insisted on putting sour cream on my potato, even though I told him I had nothing to go with it now, and wasn't going to eat it! Again, classless. THE UGLY - Prepare yourself.....the food on this ship is, for the most part, AWFUL. Unbelievable you say? I'm serious as can be on this one. No, we weren't sea sick, nor drunk off our ass (maybe that was the problem?); it was just plain old BAD. With rare exceptions (lobster, prime rib, shrimp scampi, hamburgers, and for some odd reason, eggs - but only when you ordered room service for breakfast), the food was flavorless and redundant. The same type of rice side dish showed up at least 3 different nights with different dishes. Since when do collard greens go with shrimp scampi, too? And who the hell uses a gelatin base for Tiramisu, by the way?! Stay away from the buffets in the Windjammer; lots of choices that look great, and not a one has any flavor. Tons more misses than hits with this; and absolutely the worst coffee to be found anywhere. Ah, but there's more: $1.50 Coca-Cola, $5 beer, $6 mixed drink, PLUS 15% gratuity on EVERY drink order. Yes, even the Coke. And you can't just give 'em your card, and have 'em put it on your tab...they don't have anything that sophisticated and easy to use. No, they write out a receipt, which you have to sign of course, every time you get a drink. Pay $39 and get a drink card (for 12 drinks) if you go; it won't get you every kind of drink, but it'll get most, and save you some hassle. Oh, and make 'em put a date on the receipt! Otherwise they don't...more on this in a second. Last but not least, the purser's desk wasn't as friendly and helpful as they claim to be. God forbid you have a discrepancy on your bill! We had an overcharge of one bottle of wine on our bill, and the lady at the Pursers desk refused to take care of it; when asked to produce the receipt for this charge, she simply pulled a receipt that matched the charge....and there's no way to prove it's not the one, as it doesn't have the date on it! So we said pull all the receipts with those kind of charges, and she would see that she would have one less than we were charged for, thus proving our case. She refused, and instead blew us off to the RC 800 number, and told us to call it to take care of it. That's quality customer service? Puh-lease. OVERALL SUMMARY - The excursions were good, the service mediocre, and the food terrible. If we'd been treated a little better, even that would've made a big difference. Our experience was less-than-stellar, so it's pretty much turned us against cruising again; at the very least, cruising with RC. We'll never go back to them.

Read More
  • New

Oct 18, 2002

WESTERN CARIBBEAN

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMER RELATIONS 1050 CARIBBEAN WAY MIAMI, FL 33172 Re: Booking No. 6080517 October 19, 2002 MS Grandeur Of The Seas Dear Royal Caribbean: My last cruise was on Carnival’s Destiny. It was my last and only cruise with Carnival. I must say at the onset I was very impressed with Royal Caribbean. I am a seasoned traveler with over twenty-five ship experiences. Five of those have been transatlantic

crossings and the remainder from Alaska to West, East, and Southern Caribbean. The first contact I had with your company was with Mr. Luis Gonzalez in your reservations area. He is indeed a credit to your company and was most helpful in choosing the itinerary and ship. He is very personable, professional and took an avid interest in our needs. Kudos to Luis. (Ext. 33342) Overall, I must say Grandeur of the Seas in one of the best laid out ships I have ever been on. It is wonderful to have a true promenade. The fact you can go forward to stern without changing floor levels is a pleasure. The layout of the ship is well thought out and engineered. Our cabin (8524) was roomy, quiet and comfortable. All personnel we encountered were most helpful and courteous. Some more than others but overall they are a well trained group and give genuine effort to their profession. I was most happy with Allliez (Cabin Stewardess), Curtis (Pool Bar) William (floor bar waiter – India), and Alexander in the South Pacific Lounge. Our table waitress and assistant were fine and no problems were encountered. I do have two complaints and they are as follows: 1. The music level across the board in every lounge and public area is extremely loud. Our first day on the ship, the pool band was so loud you couldn’t hear others near you even at the entrance by the Centrum. The piano player in the Schooner Lounge in the evenings made a perfectly lovely and romantic location into a shouting arena. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the disco decibel level. 2. I do not understand why you would make your most beautiful lounge, The Crown Viking, into a disco bar at night. We went almost every night for a while, but without exception were driven away but the extremely high noise level. I would venture to say if you check your receipts from that lounge, you will find them much lower than the others on an hourly open basis. It was empty most evenings. Please do not take me wrong. I love music and am not a prude. I just thought you might like to hear comments that are derived from a consensus of many passengers on this cruise. We are planning another cruise next summer or fall and plan on either Eastern Caribbean or Southern Caribbean. We certainly hope to be on Royal Caribbean again. Thank you for listening. Sincerely, Peter A. Cunningham PAC/hs

Read More
  • New

Oct 11, 2002

Western Caribbean

We sailed on the Grandeur of the Sea from Port of New Orleans. Embarkation was very smooth. The wait was no longer than 45 minutes from terminal arrival to actual gangplank boarding. Compared to other lines, that was very acceptable. When we boarded, the most striking impression to me was the splendor of the ship. She truly is Grand. Every corner was cleaned, swept and polished to perfection. Our suite was smaller than most, but my

activities in my suite are limited to washing, showering, and sleeping. All remaining time spent on the ship was somewhere else. In addition the room steward kept our room impeccably tidy to include the towel menagerie. The Windjammer dining room was good, but not great. As an alternative to the Main Dining area, it proved to be sufficient. However, the deserts were exceptional. Kudos to the desert chef and crew. The Main Dining area was good. Service was as good as most other ships but I've seen better. The lunch menus were exceptionally good, while breakfast and dinner were acceptable, with some outstanding exceptions. By the way the alternative choices were as good if not better than the daily dinner choices. And don't be to shy to ask for additional steak/lobster tails/desert/salad…. The pool deck was as on most ships the hub of daily activity while out to sea. The area was very well maintained but towels were hard to come by at poolside. Bring some from your room attendant. The Solarium is a great place for hot tub and/or pool activities. It has a no children allowed policy and most of the noise and distractions are elsewhere. We found solitude and tranquility under a veil of elegance and class. The health club is adequate, and the sauna or steam bath is among the best at sea. We did not participate in any organized health activities, having established our own program. There is however an overabundance of organized activities and weeklong programs that were very popular and seemed well planned. We normally do not participate in ship organized excursions, preferring to venture on our own. There were some complaints about a snorkeling excursion that had our fellow passengers in a boat without available shade for the entire 4 hour boat ride and water dive. This has a potential for some serious personal injury. Instead I would like to recommend a short taxi ride ($10 per cab) to Chankanaab State Park. The area has a $10 entrance fee, but the cost is well worth the investment. A short walk to the beach through palm groves and botanical gardens gave a true tropical perspective. At the beach , snorkeling gear is available for rent at $5.00 for all day. Lockers for personal valuables are available, and if you talk to Pedro at the first dive kiosk, he will provide a Discover Scuba, or for certified divers a wonderful underwater adventure to include caves and a venture to the underwater Christus statue. Another tip, sneak out a few small loaves of bread from the Windjammer to use to feed the reef fish. I had 4 baseball-sized buns and while snorkeling crushed the buns and watched as hundreds of small fish engulfed me for a free meal. Truly a wondrous experience. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean, but consider ourselves veterans at sea. This cruise was well worth the money and will most likely return soon.

Read More
  • New

Sep 7, 2002

Mexican Riviera

Royal Caribbean 7-night cruise through the Mexican Riviera on the Grandeur of the Seas was excellent! Our group included my husband & myself, our two children ages 2 & 4, and our dads. Everything went very smoothly from the time we entered the terminal at San Diego to our return. The ship was, in fact, very "Grand" indeed with lots of glass and beautiful artwork. The staff was absolutely wonderful from the cabin attendant to our server.

We never wanted for anything. Our kids were welcomed with open arms!! They had the best time of all. Our 4 year old wanted to spend most of her time at the Ocean Explorer club where they did many activities including face painting, singing & dancing, games, etc. She met two other little girls (who also sat at our dinner table) & we plan to stay in touch. The children's center staff was excellent all with degrees in child dev. or recreation. Children must be 3 years of age or older and must be potty trained in order to participate in the program. Our 2 year old was not able to use the facility but was content to spend his time running about the ship, swimming in the kiddy pool or playing games. The food was great at all of the restaurants. Again, the kids were well taken care of with a full kids menu at dinner. Our waiter discovered that my daughter loves grapes and always had a fresh bowl of grapes waiting for her each night. There is also a "burger stand" with pizza, hot dogs, burgers, and french fries. Entertainment was pretty good to outstanding, depending on the night. The comedians were the best. One of the highlights of the trip was watching a group of dolphins jumping from the wake of the ship and surfing along. Our children loved it. Of all the ports, we enjoyed Puerto Vallarta best. Lots of great shopping and lovely beaches. Mazatlan had some good shopping as well & we were able to have our laundry done there (no coin operated laundry on the ship -- they will do your laundry but it's very expensive). Our huge two loads of laundry were washed, dried, and neatly sorted, folded, and wrapped in plastic for $11.00). Incredible. We would definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again & were very pleased with everything! I look forward to taking another cruise with the family in the future.

Read More

By Dan_CR

  • New

Jul 20, 2002

Mexican Riviera

well ... the cruise was a lot of fun, it showed me that i definitely like cruises. that being said, i have to say i was disappointed in the food. The main dining hall was pretty good, the wait staff was great, but the food was a step up from cafeteria food. some nights were better than others, but everything ended up tasting the same for some reason. and i thought the food was half the reason to go on the cruise. The stateroom was very nice,

great attendant, nice room, great balcony view. Everything about the cruise was tops, except the food. Also, there were not nearly enough options for dining. limited hours etc. etc. and with a 9 mo baby, limited hours are not good.

Read More
  • New

Jul 20, 2002

Mexican Riviera

We found the best place for our after dinner drinking and entertainment was the South Pacific lounge. There was a live band playing almost every night, comedy, adult games, karaoke, you name it. We really didn't partake in some of the large shows in the large Palladium theatre. We didn't hear many good things from other passengers about the dancing teams, they seemed to be high school or college kids, not what it was willing to spend time doing

on a cruise. We did play Bingo the final day, remember this, at $35.00 a book, it was pretty expensive and the jackpot almost never hits until the final day, so I was told. A lady from California won the $17,000 prize on the final day of the cruise, WOW, I'm sure that made her trip! Our 1st night on sea was a pleasant one, the ship was smooth as silk and was really a marvel to watch as it cut through the seas, but, night #2 was rough sailing ahead!! There was a hurricane to the West of us and the ship kept us up pretty much all night. Our room was full of interesting sounds, of doors opening and closing, our TV gliding front to back on it's tracks, and worst of all, me being a person that sleeps on his side, I kept on being turned over left to right all night. I was told this was a rarity and was easily the roughest seas the ships had the past "6" months, enough said. Arriving at Cabo San Lucas comes, Tip #6: Due to the waters being too shallow and the city not wanting cruise ships docked on their shores, we had to take a motorized boat or "tender" to transport us to Cabo. It was only a "10" minute trip but it was about 95 degrees and probably 95% humidity. Whatever you do, try to sit on the "Top", outside area of the small ship. It was like an oven inside and we were sweating bullets seconds from departure. Cabo San Lucas was our least favorite city. There is a decent shopping area right when you arrive, tons of pottery, silver etc,, but we were told the Mazatlan was the place for the best deals, so we waited.. We decided to go to a small bar in the shopping area and we met up with Pedro, what a bartender! He was friendly and had many funny stories and jokes to share with us all. "5" hours later, we headed to a restaurant called "Cabo Wabo" for a bite to eat. Not the most happening spot on earth. Fair food at best and the crowd was minimal. We arrived on the ship about 4:30PM… Tip #7: Whatever you do, DO NOT be late for your ship's departure. The ship will not wait for you and it will put a major dent in your pocketbook if you make this error. There were a few ladies that were enjoying the Margaritas a little too much, well, they missed the ships' departure and $600.00 later, arriving from a series of taxis and buses, chickens and all, they met up with the ship and their belongings at the next port of call. Fair Warning!! We arrived back on the ship and took one of our early naps before our 8:30PM , 2nd seating dinners at the Great Gatsby Room. We found this gave us enough time to arrive from our ports, relax, shower and get dressed with time to spare. Speaking of dining, this was our favorite experience on the ship. We sat with a Dad and daughter from Oregon and sisters from Northern California. We had a lot in common and ended up heading off the bars and shows together after dinner. The food was about a "9" on a 1-10 scale. We enjoyed prime rib, fillet mignon, rack of lamb, shrimp scampi, lobster, duck, cherries jubilee, bananas foster, you get the picture, here comes' Tip #8: I gained "7" pounds and my wife "4", right! If you want to avoid the shock of returning from your trip with pant marks around your waist, lose the weight you are planning on gaining before you leave. Don't be depressed if you gain weight, this is a vacation, relax, have a good time, and let yourself go! We cannot say enough about our head waiter, Suad and his assistant JR. These guys worked their tails off for us, did whatever necessary to please us and fed us like cattle. We actually tipped them extra above the recommended amount due to their efforts, Thanks you 2!! Overall the food was very tasty in the Great Gatsby Room. This is the place for more formal dining experience. The Windjammer cafe is the spot for a generous breakfast buffet. With sausage, bacon, omelets, cereals, fresh fruits, breads there was plenty for everyone. Next to the solarium, an indoor pool and spa area, there is some pretty good pizza and burgers and fries to be had too. Our visit to Mazatlan was by far more interesting than Cabo San Lucas, due to the hurricanes in the area, all water sports and excursions were cancelled so we relied on the cities to entertain us. Lots of shopping areas, some rough urban areas too, but overall, a nice city to visit. We were truly disappointed with the restaurant "Senor Frogs" though. With all that we heard, it felt too "Americanized" for my taste. We traveled too far to see a bunch of Native Mexicans acting like Americans, playing loud Rap music, line dancing and pouring watered down drinks down the throats of the 18-25 year old crowd. Don't get me wrong, I can party with the best of them, but this was not my idea of excitement. Puerto Vallarta was by far the most beautiful city we've visited in Mexico. It had super beaches, fantastic restaurants, "Shrimp Factory' highly recommended, and shops everywhere. The people were friendly and there really was not anything bad that could be said about it as a whole. ENJOY! Tip #9: If you are planning on buying alcohol in Mexico, be prepared to have it confiscated until the end of the cruise if you are caught. The ship makes a large amount of $ by selling alcoholic and soft drinks. Sometimes they will run a drink special, 12 drinks for $39.00, but take heed. It does not include any specialty drinks or import beers and the drinks sizes are about "5" ounces smaller than usual, not really a bargain, is it? It seems that if you arrive a few minutes before departure, they will not check your belongings as thoroughly but BE Careful! Tip #10: Cologne and perfume in the shopping area onboard was about 40% cheaper than at home. No taxes and duty free, indulge!! Tip #11: Bring an iron, none on board and no ironing boards. There is a laundry service on board, but for a fee... Overall, it was one of the best vacations we've had and is quite a bargain considering what the package includes. Other than a few areas that could be improved, the ship is beautiful, large, "917 feet", smooth, and the people are quite special. I think we ran into 2 American crew members during 7 days. The others were from Croatia, Philippines, Australia, Jamaica, England, Nigeria, India, etc.. Very interesting meeting people from other countries as well as the people from Mexico. Enjoy your trip on Royal Caribbean's "Grandeur of the Seas"!

Read More
  • New

Apr 25, 2002

Circle the Caribbean

For the most part, everything was average. We got a good deal when we booked the cruise in November of 2001. We paid $849/pp for an outside cabin. With a 9-day itinerary, we couldn’t pass that up! But, in retrospect, we got what we paid for. With the exception of the Dining Room staff, all service was at the basic level of satisfactory. Everything was done at the bare minimum unless we requested something more. (Shouldn’t they be the ones asking,

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Funny, now that I say that, I don’t ever remember hearing that once!) At the beginning of the cruise (embarkation), we had no problems at the pier in Miami. We arrived at 1:00pm. The porters loaded our luggage (we received colored tags prior to departure with our cabin number on them) and got in the big line to get onboard. Of course, the lines were long and there were very impatient people ahead of us and behind us waiting to embark the ship, but that goes with the territory. We were just happy to be away from work! All of our suitcases were in our stateroom by 5:00pm One major regret was our decision to order a “bon voyage” cheese tray to be delivered to our stateroom. With a bottle of zinfandel, the charge was $42. As we were nibbling crackers & cheese, I was thumbing through the room service menu where I found “cheese and cracker tray.” The same exact tray we paid for was FREE on the room service menu! Argh… About our cabin: it was a “larger outside stateroom,” and having been on cruises before, I knew that this really meant “small couch instead of a chair” in our room. Space planning was poor! Who’s idea was it to put drawers in the closet? We had to give up a good amount of space for our clothes in the closet in order to put our suitcases in. The bed was too low for them to fit under. Oh yes, the bed. If you are a couple, the cabin stewards do not separate your beds during the day. This means you have to maneuver around a queen-sized bed for the week. Also, the converted twin beds make for an interesting ride if you are doing any kind of “fooling around.” Stay away from the middle, or you’ll fall in! You also have to ask for a queen-sized bedspread, or you have to make due with two sheets and a blanket. One more thing: Our sheets were never changed during the 9 days we were on board. Our cabin steward was average. He barely said 10 words to us all week. (Apparently, this was the exception to the rule—our table mates said theirs were wonderful.) We’re not used to that, especially if you’ve been on Holland America, where the sheets were changed every other day, and, if they find liquor in your room, they asked you what you like to mix it with and made sure it was there everyday. The steward did do a good job cleaning up after us in the bathroom, though. The shower was too small—especially for my 6’4” 280 lb husband. So, we opted to keep the curtain open so we could move our arms enough to wash under them. I also took to resting my foot on the toilet if I wanted to shave my legs. We kept the small mat and another bath towel on the floor to soak up the water. Oh, yes. I mentioned liquor in our room! Or, as I called it, “Contraband.” We were very disappointed to find that, if you purchased liquor at the ship’s recommended shops in port, they did not give it to you for immediate consumption, but sent it to the ship where they held it until the night before you disembarked. This was also the case at the duty-free shop onboard the ship—their duty free prices were great, but if you wanted to do something crazy, like actually DRINK some of it while you were on the cruise, they charged you a $9.75 “consumption fee.” All of this, in addition to the lounges on the ship automatically adding a 15% gratuity to any drink you ordered! (They actually charged us for coffee in one of the lounges! When I told the server we could get it for free in the Windjammer café, he said, “Ok.,” meaning, ‘Ok. Go and get it yourself.”) I got used to water and iced tea rather quickly! “Shipcharge” : Your room key is also your onboard credit card. It is SOOOO easy to hand that little plastic thing over to pay for stuff. They encourage this “cashless” society, where the shipcharge is the only method of payment accepted, even for buying a bingo card or a bottle of sprite. In order to avoid a massive coronary at the end of the cruise, we had our grand total updated and sent to us every day from the purser’s office. Also sent to everyone onboard every day was the “Compass,” a newsletter that listed all of the daily activities. The portable insert was a big help—it was a smaller version of the newsletter that just listed meal times, hours of the lounges, and the activities for the day. We always had it with us, folded up in our pocket. The ship’s activities were plentiful. There was lots to do at sea and in port. The shows were OK, but the best entertainment came after dinner in the South Pacific Lounge. They had many theme parties and games that could have easily received an “R” rating. All ages were there, and no one was offended. Everyone always had a good time. One of the activities I must warn you about is the BINGO. Hear this, very loud and clear: STAY AWAY FROM BINGO UNTIL THE VERY LAST DAY. They charge outrageous prices for cards, and the “payouts” are so little that you don’t even break even. What are they doing with the money? We paid $35 apiece for a “jumbo pack” (you play five games, and get six cards per game). So as a couple, we spent $70, and what were the payouts? Game 1: $38. Game 2: $27. Game 3: $46… I felt sorry for the “winners” who had to split a pot. We learned our lesson and only played again on the last day. Some people played twice a day for the entire trip. Only on the last day were the payouts good ($200 - $500), and the grand prize jackpot got up to $7200. About the Grandeur’s pools: One of the best kept secrets on the ship was the Solarium. It was a fabulous escape from the main pool, where you could almost always count on parents not watching their kids run around and jump in and out of the jacuzzis. We had a great time stretching out in the sun and relaxing in the pool. The solarium was a big draw to the 50+ age group. The older crowd was a real kick—they liked having us “kids” around, and we loved talking to them. The main pool was fun to be at in the late afternoon, where the Jamaican band would play and a lot of passengers would dance and watch the sun go down. We would usually go up there at 4:30 and have a couple of cocktails before we went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner (late seating.) Dinner!!! The highlight of our day!!! Erminiu (“…you can call me ‘Jack’ if it’s easier”…) was our server, and he kicked butt! He and his assistant, Kashiuk, had our routines down by day two. Erminiu never hesitated to speak up if he thought something didn’t taste good (so we wouldn’t order it), and would bring us two or three of something he thought we’d like. We also saw a lot of the head waiter, Alessandro. He mostly came around and asked, “How is everybody doing this evening?”, but by the end of the week, the guys at our table were talking about going fishing with him. Like I said before—the Dining room staff was where we received the best service. About the food: If you want fine cuisine, RCCL is not the way to go, unless you are on the Voyager/Explorer of the Seas. The best food was served in the main dining room, and even there it was borderline average/good. We had no complaints, since we pretty much always liked what was on the menu. The Windjammer Café for breakfast was ok on the 1st and 2nd days, but by the 3rd day, you could see that some of the pastries and sausage were the same ones that were there on day one. (As in, three-day-old donuts and three-day-old sausage. Yuk!) The made-to-order omelets were awesome, but the lines were long for that. So, we ate cereal and fruit and had room service most of the time. Lunch in the Windjammer was also ok. The food got old quick, so we decided by day 3 to eat lunch in the main dining room. Much better in there! (Plus, it gave us the opportunity to meet more people, since they would seat you at big tables of ten.) We only took two ship-sponsored excursions, and found that we could do much better on our own at the other two ports. (We had 4 ports of call total.) If you plan to snorkel Grand Cayman, skip the Stingray City excursion ($67 per person!) and snorkel with Captain Marvin’s. It’s fairly close to the dock, and for $34 per person, we were gone for 3 hours and had an absolute AWESOME time. The best ship-sponsored excursion we took was snorkeling in Aruba, with Pelican tours. They were great! They kept us entertained and full of rum punch, and even brought the punch out to us if we were wading in the ocean. On the way back to the ship, we all danced and sang and had a great time. Last, but not least, if you are absolutely sure that you want to cruise on the Grandeur, STAY AWAY FROM THE 3RD DECK STARBOARD (RIGHT SIDE) AFT (REAR) CABINS. A couple from our dinner table had an absolutely horrible time there. There was a bad leak two floors up that ran all the way down to this deck, and made the rooms and hallway moldy and smelly. So bad, that even the cabin stewards were getting sick. Nothing was done about it until day 3, when they just shampooed the carpets and ran fans on the hall. By then, the mold had already set. Our friends spent the first 4 days of their cruise wearing shoes in their cabin and popping throat losenges because the floor was soaking wet and the air was so musty. All they were offered for compensation was $200 off of their ship charge. Like I said, I really wanted to write a good review, but there were to many negatives compared to so few positives. My husband and I still, even though we were not happy with the ship & service, had a wonderful time. We made lots of friends and met some very extraordinary people. We snorkeled and explored and saw many sights and animals that we’ll never forget. We will definitely cruise again (and again and again) in the future, but it is unlikely that we will use RCCL. I hope you find this review helpful! I can’t begin to tell you how many reviews I read before I booked this cruise! Kathleen Lancaster Sacramento, California USA KBLancaster@Yahoo.com

Read More
  • New

Mar 15, 2002

Circle the Caribbean 10 day

The grandeur of the seas was the best vacation I’ve ever had! The grandeur had a excellent teen program. There were about 20 other 13-16 year olds on board. Although the cruise line's organized teen program was OK we ended up having more fun doing stuff in a big group by ourselves. The food was great and the staff were very friendly and treated us like kings and queens! The ship itself was beautiful. There were many bars (non alcoholic drinks served

too) and seating areas throughout the ship. the large, open centrum in the middle of the ship made it easy to get around and was a great meeting place. I recommend this boat for teens because of all the fun I had. I miss the ship and all my friends but all good things must come to an end.

Read More
  • New

Feb 22, 2002

10 day circle the Caribbean

Our room – We booked a “B” room but received a nice upgrade to the “A” owner’s suite. What a room!! 511 sq ft and 110 sq ft balcony. There was more than enough room. We did not even use all of the drawers and cabinets. There was a jazz tub and a bidet. There was a VCR and DVD player and 3 phones. We had a queen bed, a pull out queen sofa bed and got a roll-a-way for my son. Water and sodas were free and every night we received

a tray of food. Such things as chocolate covered strawberries, shrimp cocktail, meats and cheeses, desserts. The Ship – is beautiful, a lot of nice artwork. The Grandeur just came out of dry-dock this past October. New carpet, paint, chair pads, etc. The People – The ship was full. There was a little bit of an older crowd, but a very good mix from all age groups. There were 13 honeymoon couples and 80 children under the age of 16. Dress – I noticed that more people followed the suggested dress code on the 10 day than I have seen on the 7 day cruises. Day 1 - Casual, Day 2 - Formal night, Day 3 - Smart Casual, Day 4 - Smart Casual, Day 5 - Casual, Day 6 - Semi-formal, Day 7 - Casual (island wear), Day 8 - Casual, Day 9 - Formal, Day 10 - Casual. The first day was a sea day and it was very very rough. We missed the formal night and had to take our son to the ship’s doctor. People were leaving from first seating and there were only 60 people at second seating. Food – I thought the food was good to very good and the desserts were excellent. The pizza and hamburgers were much improved over the last time. We have had a different Executive Chief on each of the Grandeur sailings and the food has all been somewhat different. If you want something special, just ask for it. My mom had shrimp cocktail almost every night. They ran out of chocolate syrup for milk on day 8. Our waitress had the cook melt down chocolate for my son’s milk. Entertainment – My mom said the shows were very good. I was in the Casino. Actually, I did make it to one show. The other activities not to be missed were the not-so-newlywed game and the Grandeur Mania. Ports of Call – Cozumel – We did the dolphin swim booked through Dolphin Discovery. Very good and well worth the $119 each cost. Hubby and son did it and I stood right above the platform taking pictures. They had 2 dolphins for 6 six people. You are in the water, swimming with them. This was at Chankanaab Park ($10 cab ride) and $10 pp admission into the park. There is nice, but small beach area. Hubby did some snorkeling and said it was pretty good. The swim was postponed from until the afternoon because of the bad weather there the day before also. The ship’s encounter tour was cancelled. They had a nice casual restaurant there. Hubby had a great shrimp Cervechi. We did not have any shopping time here since the swim was later than planned. Grand Cayman - We did the Captain Marvin’s 2 hour snorkeling and stingray tour. There were only 11 of us. It was great. The guide got in the water and held the stingrays while we feed them. We saw the ship’s tours, way too many people. Capt. Marvin does not more than 36 per tour. We wanted to have lunch after, so the driver dropped us at a place (I think is was, Rickshaws) near the Capt. Marvin office. Very nice, casual right on the dock, we could see all of the ships. We had conch fritters and fries. There were 5 ships in Cayman that day. By the time we finished with the tour and lunch, the stores were not too busy. Hubby found a nice omega watch. We did not buy it, as we were not sure how it would compare to the other islands. It turned out to be the cheapest in Cayman. Hubby bought rum at a ship-sponsored store, Tortuga Liquors. It was delivered to the ship and we did not see it until the last night. Montego Bay, Jamaica – I booked a tour to Mayfield falls with Carolyn at Barrett adventures. This was the best thing we did. There were 11 of us again. She picked us up at 8:30 and we did not return until 4:30 pm. It was about an hour drive to the falls, she explained the history of the island. The falls were beautiful. Took about 1 ½ hours to go through it. Then we walked back (10 minutes to walk) through the countryside. It was amazing. We had a local lunch at the falls, chicken, fish or goat. It was ok, a bit different. Then we had a nice drive back with a stop for liquor and coffee, which was much cheaper than back at the pier. So many people are afraid to venture out in Jamaica. It really is a very beautiful country. Carolyn will custom design any type of tour you want and she also does tours in Ocho Rios. Aruba – We rented a jeep through Avis (in advance, $52.20) you pick up right at the pier. There were plenty of car rentals. We took our waitress, Mellany out with us for the day. We went to Baby beach. Very nice beach, the sand is so fine. Hubby said snorkeling was not that good. Very, very hot here. We all got sun burnt. Then we had lunch in San Nicolas at Charlie’s Bar Boozers. It is a local whole in the wall. Very nice, we all had seafood, shrimp, grouper and fish stew. We then went to the lighthouse. We did not have time to go the natural cave bridge. We were in port until midnight. We ate dinner on the ship. Then hubby and I took a cab to the Hyatt. ($10) What a beautiful hotel. They have a nice casino, not too big, took my money. Then we took a cab back and went to Carlos N Charlie’s. It is right at the pier. What a party place. You have to stop in just to watch. You will see plenty of the crew there also. Curacao – We took a cab ($12) to Mambo beach, right near the seaquarium. Very nice beach with shade, chairs and drink and snack bar. It was $3.00 to get in and $2.50 for a chair. The beach was rocky; glad I had my water shoes. Hubby said snorkeling was not that good. Looks like a lot of people bought a beach package through the ship, but you still had to pay for your own cab. Just go on your own. Then we returned to town for a little shopping. Did not buy anything special, just souvenirs and tee shirts. Casino – They are using 4 deck automatic shufflers now for blackjack. Not good, game moves faster and it is hard to catch a streak. All tables were $5.00 minimum. The 1st hour the casino was open; a gentleman won $12,500 on a $5.00 poker slot machine. Hubby won a $500 jackpot on a dollar machine the first night. Then the slots cool down. Hubby had a couple of good nights at the craps table. Over all, I lost, but not too much considering I gambled 9 out of 10 nights for an average of 3 – 4 hours a night. Booze Issue – We took a private car through Tri-County Airport Express from Ft. Lauderdale airport to port of Miami ($55) We had him stop at a Walgreen’s. We bought water, soda and juice for son. (Did not know the drinks in the owner’s suite would be free) This Walgreen’s had the liquor store so hubby bought a bottle of rum (something better than we could buy on the ship with paying the $9.50 up charge to take it to your room.) We put it in my Mom’s carryon, no problem, went right through at the pier. Hubby’s carryon was searched because of the laptop and cameras. Just walk on with the water and soda. I had a bottle of wine in my checked luggage, bubbled rapped, no problem. In Cozumel when we boarded, we saw all the liquor boxes stacked up. In Montego Bay, we had 2 bottles, put one in each backpack, no problem. Saw plenty of liquor boxes stacked up, but the lady right in front on me just walked on with her liquor box and took it to her room. My thoughts, the later in the day you re-board the ship, the more lax they are. It is a hit and miss situation. We bought the drink cards for $48. For 12 drinks. They do not really advertise these. Just ask for them at any bar. They are good for wine or such type of drinks like rum and cokes. They are not good for the frozen things. The tip was added when I bought it, but I still felt like I needed to tip a 1.00 or so when using the card, especially if you were going to order from that server again. Adventure Ocean Kids Program – The best, I have to drag my son out of there at night. Each night is a different theme night. They now have expanded hours, which is good if you do not want to take your child on a shore excursion. Anyone needing more details here just ask. Disembarkation – was a bit unorganized. They were calling too many colored tags to quickly. Then everyone was stacking up outside at security. When we got out, we waited another ½ hour before we saw our bags. Overall – A great cruise, I was a bit nervous after 9/11, expecting more cost cutting, but I saw just the opposite. The crew were always friendly and ready to help you. The food was very good. They had some freebies such as rum tasting at the stores one night, Champagne in the Jewelry store and free Hors d’oeuvres at the Viking Crown Lounge. Crown & Anchor – Finally, they are doing something. The special check-in area. We were given discounts books in the room. Good for free drinks, photos, discounts in the spa, match play in the casino and more stuff. They had a special area for disembarkation also, but by the time we got moving, our color was called already. I think RCCL has listened to what we have been saying and I see the improvements. Now that I am approaching Diamond status, I’m sticking with RCCL. What is next? Of course, the Grandeur for one last time (it will be Mellany’s last contract and our son wants to only go on the ship that she is on) She has been our waitress for 3 times now. We are going to do the Grandeur out of New Orleans on 12/28/02, Western Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Feb 22, 2002

Circle Caribbean

Grandeur of the Seas - 10 Day Circle the Caribbean - 2/22/02 My wife and I just completed our 18th cruise, this first time on a Royal Caribbean Ship. We booked a Category B Suite on the Bridge Deck # 8014. Whatever you do, DO NOT select a cabin on the Bridge Deck Forward as you will be under the Windjammer Cafe. That sounds like a minor problem but believe me it is not! We were located Port side under the outdoor portion of the Windjammer Cafe

which opens for breakfast at 6:00 or 6:30 AM. It really did not matter exactly when because the Coffee machine was outside the cafe and early risers started attacking the coffee at about 5:45 every morning although I don't understand the attraction since the coffee frankly SUCKED. But nevertheless, promptly every morning in the midst of our beauty sleep were we awakened by the god awful noise coming from people dragging the heavy wooden chairs and benches around to suit their needs. Further these chairs and benches naturally have "anti-skid" pads attached to their legs which adds to the racket! Apparently this is a know problem which cannot be addressed until the ship is sent to dry dock and some serious insulation is added above the ceiling. Our cabin steward says he hears this complaint every cruise for every cabin. We complained to the Guest Relations Manager, who while apologetic, could do nothing since the ship was full and only a few emergency inside cabins were available. She did provide us with an onboard credit of $200 - big deal. And that was not all! The band - "The Caribbean Four" played on a wooden platform on the Port side near our cabin. All the time, all day, and until 12:45 in the morning on some days! Lots of Bass and very loud, to the point that you could not even enjoy the balcony which was very nice and quite large although very noisy. So as long as you do not sleep in the morning, afternoon, evening, or before 1:00 AM you will be fine, otherwise it WILL suck. Sorry to be so blunt, but I find it incredulous that the Premium Suites would be located in such a poor location. We would have been better off down a deck in a Category C and saving the money and aggravation. It borders on Fraud to charge premium prices for that batch of cabins given the conditions. I am waiting to hear from Guest Relations regarding some sort of adjustment, but I am not holding my breath (but then neither is my attorney). Now that I scared you away from those Suites let me say that the ship itself is very nice and the service throughout is generally very good to excellent. Certainly our cabin steward, waiter, busboy and Headwaiter were attentive and excellent. The Headwaiters, by the way, are now also your Wine Stewards so that is why they are constantly around. This is a nice improvement over never seeing them, eliminates an unnecessary position, and give the Headwaiters an opportunity to earn gratuities as evidenced by the pre-printed envelopes provided. No problem - they earned their money this trip. The ship is showing some signs of wear although it is fairly new - built in 1997 I believe. It is easy to navigate, has sufficient deck space for sun bathers and good public areas. The "Welcome Duo" in the Atrium are very good and the entertainment throughout is good. The food was not excellent in the Gatsby Dining Room. It definitely needs improvement. Having sailed on 6 HAL cruises where the food is always well prepared although somewhat bland, I can safely tell you that the RCL food was sub-par. Our waiter took to recommending only one entrée every night and when we selected something else we found he was correct. It was difficult to find a really good meal each evening and the beef dishes were absolutely terrible and so was the fish and the pasta was really bad! The lamb was good - and the final night prime rib was passable. Desserts were great, breads wonderful, salads disappointing and veggies mediocre. The escargot were pitiful! The food in the Windjammer was generally OK for lunch and breakfast. The Hamburgers and Pizza at the Solarium Pool were OK to good depending on the day. The Islands were great although we have been to all of them with the exception of Curacao which was really nice. We enjoyed sitting on the esplanade having a couple Amstel Brights and watching the pontoon bridge swing open and closed for various ships. Very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I still wonder why any cruise ship stop in Jamaica - there are constant stories about busloads of tourists being accosted and robbed at gunpoint. I believe they are true - when will these natives learn about tourist dollars? Embarkation was a slow line that took about an hour and then of course you must suffer the built-in pause for the ship photographers...oh well. Getting off was silly since they called the baggage tag colors too close together and created a huge line in the Atrium for no apparent reason since everyone was already out of their rooms. Too bad about the poor food quality and whatever you do save you money and avoid the noise problems we suffered! RCL need to either fix the problem with the Suite or stop selling them. I suppose they could use them for complimentary "upgrades" and hardly anyone would complain. Whatever happened to honesty in advertising?

Read More
  • New

Feb 22, 2002

Circle Caribbean 10 day-5 ports

Our staterooms were on the inside. We chose two adjoining rooms because we were traveling with our 18 yr old son. They were clean and very comfortable, a little small which made us glad we spent the extra money to get the other room. The beds were very comfortable and what amazed me was how quiet the rooms were; we either had great neighbors or it was great soundproofing. Carlos our room attendant was very helpful to us being our first cruise. He

was very attentive and was in our rooms twice a day for pick and refreshing. The Windjammer buffet restaurant was in full swing by the time we unpacked and we were hungry so we had our fill of hot food, sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit, soups plus plenty of desserts from cakes to ice cream to chose from. Our main dining room experience was excellent. We had the late dinnertime (8:30pm) which we chose because we didn't want to rush back from any exploring in ports. It gave us time to nap (naps are good on vacation) shower, dress and have cocktail before joining our dinner companions who were from England and a joy to be with. Our waiters were attentive and the food was good, not great but good. I would never complain considering the number of dinners they put out in a sitting and they offered a wide variety of choices. I was actually quite impressed. I would have love to seen the kitchen operation. The ship always seemed to have something going on if you want to join in on the fun and for all ages. They have a children and teenage center (my son was too old but it looked nice). They had bingo games, art auctions (which was quite fun and we picked up a great picture!), spa, saunas, poolside games, upper deck games (shuffleboard, etc) or just lounging by one of the two pools. All of us took advantage of the fitness facility. It was also quite impressive. They had Cybex weight machines, free weights, a small aerobic/yoga studio, Stairmaster, elliptical trainers, bicycling machines and probably 8 treadmills. It sure helped me keep down the weight gain! I would recommend this ship to anyone. The Royal Caribbean staff did an excellent job of taking care of their passengers and providing a full range of entertainment, very professional. Ports of Call We stopped at Cozumel first and since we were traveling with our 18 yr old son. We were looking for adventure and decided on the shore excursion in the 4x4 jeep to the DePalma Ruins and then to the beach for a Mexican Buffet and swimming. Everyone had a blast. My son drove the jeep and had a great time making his me scream in the back seat for all the bumps and puddles for splashing. The beach was beautiful and secluded. They provided soda, blankets and palm covered umbrella stands for protection. The food was delicious. They grilled chicken & beef fajitas, corn chips, fresh guacamole dip and fresh salsa (hot or mild) plus fresh fruit of pineapple, banana and melons. The guides were friendly, a comfortable atmosphere and great fun. The next stop was Grand Cayman, a very lovely town with lots of shopping for all you shoppers out there. Oh, I forgot to mention another great item Royal Caribbean provided was a get together in their theatre before each port with a Shopping Guide. This fellow helped explain what to look for in jewelry, recommended places for shopping (whether it was diamond, tanzanite or t-shirts for friends back home) They ship always provided maps of the area before each stop, a BIG plus in my book. Next was Jamaica, it was not my favorite. Our stop was in Montego Bay and the shops were just OK. On to Aruba, what a great town. I really spent some money there! I found a wonderful pearl shop called Pearl Gems and bought a beautiful pair of Tahiti black pearl earrings. The woman working in the shop was great fun and very helpful, her name was Cheryl. She even made dinner reservations for us at the Driftwood for seafood dinner in town. We also went on a sailing/snorkeling tour on a catamaran. It was about 3 hours long and made two stops. One stop was along shore and it had a good variety of tropical fish and then next stop was at a wreck a little farther out and that was very exciting to swim over top of a ship. You could even see divers beneath us the water was so clear. On the way back they put on the music and made some rum drinks and we enjoyed the sunshine! Our last stop was Curacao. This was another lovely town. The buildings are painted in lovely bright summer colors and the architecture was unique. We explored the floating market, shops and even went further into the city to test a variety of beers. We felt very comfortable exploring anywhere and they people were quite friendly and helpful. Out of all the stops our favorites were Aruba and Curacao. We spent the last two days at sea heading back to Miami. We were never bored and we will certainly take another cruise with Royal Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Feb 1, 2002

Circle Caribbean

Our first port of call was Cozumel, Mexico. We have been to the island once before. We rented a jeep and toured the island. We did some snorkeling - saw a beautiful parrot fish - and also did some shopping. Our second port was Grand Cayman. Very small, delightful island. We visited Seven Mile Beach and did some body surfing. Great fun! Next, Jamaica. We were looking forward to our first shore excursion. We had signed up for the Enchanted

Gardens and Dunn River Falls tour. This was well worth the money. The enchanted gardens is located in Fern Gully and was very picturesque. There are about 14 natural waterfalls on the property and an orchid garden. Watch out for the parrots though, they bite my husband's finger!! Also note that if you show any interest in the local's merchandise you will be harassed to purchase the item endlessly. Finally we had a sea day and boy did we need it. Too many early mornings and late nights. We just enjoyed the day by relaxing along the pool. One tip - claim a lounging chair early in the morning as they go quickly. Our next port of call was Aruba. We did a See and Sea Island Tour. We stopped at the Natural Bridge, Lighthouse, as well as went out on a semi-sub to the Atilles German shipwreck. We were able to enjoy the nightlife in Aruba as we did not leave until 12 midnight. We partied at Carlos and Charlies, along with many of the crew members. Aruba is a desert-like island with the constant tradewinds and very little rain - similar to Arizona. I thoroughly enjoyed this island and it's Dutch history. Our last stop was the island of Curacao. This is also a Dutch island. Very clean and also very colorful with the pastel colored buildings. Needless to say, all good things must come to a close. We were very sad to leave the ship. We found the service and staff very pleasant and knowledgeable. For those of you who have not cruised before, do not be afraid to ask for more than one appetizer as well as desserts. The dining room staff do not know the meaning of the word "no". The desserts on the Grandeur are excellent!! On more than one occasion we had two desserts. Do not miss any of the midnight buffets (you may not be able to eat anything) but bring along plenty of film. There is also a casino on board - "giving away money". The ship has many activities during the sea days as well as port days (as there are many people who have seen the islands and just wish to stay on the ship). On the last sea day the bingo jackpot was $5 000 - won by one lucky winner. The evening shows are also first class. We made sure we went to the shows every night. We had everything from comedians to a puppeteer. The shows are as good as Vegas. We cannot wait to book our next cruise.

Read More
  • New

Dec 31, 2001

Circle the Caribbean

In the main dining room, the food was very good. We ate dinner there every night, as well as quite a few lunches and one breakfast. We noticed improvement even from when we sailed on Explorer of the Seas this past summer. My wife had some very good fish and lamb dishes, and I enjoyed quite a few of the beef dishes. We also had some really good pasta as well. We used the Windjammer for lunch a few times and the food was good, not great, but that is

what we expected. We had hamburgers and pizza at the Solarium grill a couple of times. The pizza could use some major improvement, it was a little soggy, but the server was always pleasant and accommodating. Overall, we noticed a nice improvement in the food on RCCL. Spa I did have one massage and one reflexology treatment at the Spa. Both treatments were well done and relaxing. To my great surprise, I was not given a hard sell after the service either time. My wife had her hair cut, and the stylist did a very nice job on her hair as well. A good job by the Steiner folks on this cruise. Ports of Call We had a good selection of ports on this cruise. Since we had been to all of them before, we did not do any shore excursions, but did our own thing instead. On Key West, we walked all around the island, making a long stop at the Hemmingway house, as well as walking the length of Duval Street. That made for a fun, but tiring day. Considering the fact that we were there on New Year’s Day, we were surprised by the amount of shops that were actually open. Our next stop was Cozumel. When we docked, an announcement was made that most of the water excursions were cancelled due to high waves. We took a taxi to Chankanaab Park anyway, and even though the waves were choppy, I did get in some good snorkeling. Afterwards we strolled along the shops before heading back to the ship. The high waves followed us to Grand Cayman, and unfortunately, we couldn’t get in to port. The waves were actually higher than the tenders. Five ships were diverted away from Grand Cayman that day. Our next stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We had been to Jamaica before, so we decided to stay on board and relax all day. We did get off briefly to walk and stretch our legs, but that was it. Aruba was our next port and we had great weather and a great day. We hired a taxi for a two hour tour, and he took us to a couple of spots we hadn’t been to before, such as the California Lighthouse, as well as a couple of familiar spots such as the Natural Bridge. We did a little shopping in town then came back to the ship for dinner. After dinner we went back out and went to the Crystal Casino where after two hours I was $5 ahead. The next and last port was Curacao. We took a taxi to the Seaquarium, and stayed there for a couple of hours; it was very enjoyable. Then we went back into town, walked around, had lunch, did a little shopping and finally walked back to the ship. We were expected back on board at 4:30 PM and made it back at 4:27 PM. We had another great weather day and enjoyed our time at Curacao. Entertainment The entertainment was very good. The ship left on New Year’s Eve, and there were parties at various locations on board ship. We celebrated with most of the ship in the Centrum area (it was raining outside) and had a fun night. The champagne was definitely flowing. We enjoyed both comedians that we saw as well as the stage shows. My wife actually won a game of bingo, but had to split the prize with four other lucky winners. We were not as lucky in the casino; our money seemed to go awfully fast in there. The on board entertainment is always one of RCCL’s strong points. Debarkation We thought that debarkation was handled well, especially for a ship the size of the Grandeur of the Seas. Our color was one of the first to be called and we were off the ship and had our bags by 9:00 AM. One of the things we appreciated was the baggage carousel. It was much easier than searching through mounds of similar black bags spread around a warehouse. We got a taxi and were at the Miami airport at 9:20 AM. Conclusion We had a fantastic cruise experience. It was nice to be spoiled by a longer cruise, and we have to give lots of kudos to the staff of the Grandeur for spoiling us as well. Would we take Royal Caribbean again? In a heartbeat. Even though there are some things about the line that annoy us, (the singing waiters, for example), we are usually pleased with their overall product and greatly enjoy their ships. We look forward to another cruise with them one day soon.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, 2001

Miami - Cozumel - Grand Cayman - Montego Bay - Aruba - Curacao - Miami

About Us My wife and I are in our late thirties. This was our third cruise – first on RCCL. Previously, we had sailed on Premier’s “Atlantic” for a 4-night cruise, and a 7-night cruise on Disney’s “Magic.” This was to be our 10th Anniversary trip and we originally were scheduled for a 10-night Hawaiian cruise on Vision of the Seas departing 9/23/01 from Honolulu to Ensenada. Unfortunately, the events of September 11th caused

us to delay our plans, so we decided to take a 10-night Circle Caribbean cruise instead. We had been to Hawaii several times in the past, but had never been to any of the destinations on this cruise. And, although we were not on the ship for our anniversary, we were not to be disappointed with the cruise itself, and we would definitely do it again if given the chance. About our Fellow Passengers RCCL’s brochures state that their average passenger age is in the early 40s. On our cruise, I would have to say the average age was about 55. I suspect the fact that we were on a 10-night cruise, and the fact that the cruise was during the school year helped to increase the average passenger age. There was a total of 1732 passengers on this cruise. There were 8 honeymoon couples; a few families with children ranging from infants to teens; about 50 or so couples in the twenty to thirty something age group; and maybe another 100 couples in their late forties or early fifties. The rest of the passengers were recently retired seniors and older. Most passengers were pretty laid back. Not a lot of loud partying – just the way we like it. If you like to relax on your vacation, this cruise is for you. If you like to saddle up to the bar the minute you get on the ship and not stop drinking until you arrive back in Miami, I would suggest a different cruise line. Arrival, Embarkation and Security We arranged our own air as RCCL wanted almost $300 per person and we were able to get non-stop flights for less than $175 each. We arrived the night before departure. I strongly recommend arriving the night before any cruise departure. Although it adds about $150 to the cost of the vacation, the money spent is well worth the peace of mind in knowing that you’ll be on time for your ship’s departure. We had rented a car from Alamo upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale, and when we returned the car to Miami the next morning, we used Alamo’s free shuttle bus to the Miami Cruise Terminals. The ride to the ship took about 30 minutes. We were left at the far end of the outside curb where all the taxis and private cars drop their passengers. It took me several minutes to locate a porter, and I was only successful by going to the departing baggage belt with cash in hand to find a porter who had just dropped off a load of bags and had an empty cart. If I had not done this, I probably would have waited for quite a while. Other passengers told me they waited up to 45 minutes for a porter to come their way. Don’t be bashful about going to get a porter at the baggage belt. It could save you a half-hour or more. After getting our luggage taken care of, we were sent to the entrance of the terminal building where we were required to show our cruise ticket and photo ID. Only then were we permitted to go upstairs to the security checkpoint where security was visibly tight – there were Reservists with M-16s at the checkpoint, throughout the Terminal Building, and at pier-side. After getting through security, we waited in line for about 30 minutes to check-in with an RCCL agent. Once we reached an agent, the check-in process went quickly and smoothly. We were given our Super Charge cards (combined on-board charge card and room key) and then went upstairs to the gangway. At the gangway, we were asked to stand in front of a podium-like box where our security pictures were taken. Each time we re-entered the ship at any port of call, our pictures were displayed on the computer screen for the Sergeant at Arms. Although the pictures of us were horrible – our passport pictures were far better – I’m sure they were effective at keeping unwanted persons off the ship throughout the cruise. Upon entering the ship, we were met by a member of the cruise director’s staff and were provided with directions to our stateroom. Fifteen minutes after getting to our stateroom, our Cabin Attendant knocked on our door to introduce himself and to give us our excursion tickets that we had ordered on-line. We then went to the welcome aboard buffet and upon returning to our stateroom about an hour later, all our bags were present and accounted for. Total embarkation time: Approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes. Overall, the check-in process was good, although it was the slowest experience of any previous cruise. The longest portion of time was spent standing in line waiting for a check-in agent. I suppose that RCCL could have had more agents on duty to decrease waiting time, but overall the line seemed to move along pretty quickly. Our Cabin As this was a “special” trip for us, we had reserved a Category C “suite”. We were assigned stateroom 8454 on the starboard side, just aft of the rear lifts on Deck 8. This proved to be an excellent location as it was amidships (less up and down motion when under way) and, being close to the lifts and stairway, it made for easy access to/from our room – no walking down log corridors. The room was nicely decorated with natural woods and soft peachy beige colors. Very warm and pleasing color tones. I had ordered a sunflower bouquet for my wife and when we arrived at the stateroom, the flowers were already on the coffee table. Although I would not really call our stateroom a “suite” it was by far the largest room we ever had on a cruise ship. I never felt the need to squeeze around furniture to move about the room, and never felt cramped at all. In fact, when we first entered the room, my wife said that the room was huge and that it felt like a “real” hotel room instead of a cabin on a ship. I estimate the overall dimensions of the room at 22 feet long and 10 feet wide, plus a 4 x 10 foot verandah. While I’m convinced that the occupants of the Royal Suite had much better digs, our stateroom was just about the perfect size for what we needed and expected, and certainly far better than the Category D staterooms on the deck below us – Category D cabins are at least 3 feet narrower. It had a good-sized bathroom with a bathtub/shower (with extremely good water pressure); a double-width closet with a high hanger bar on one side and high/low hanger bars on the other side; two twin beds pushed together to make a very comfortable oversized queen bed, a pullout queen sized sofa-bed; two comfortable chairs and accompanying ottomans; a coffee table; a desk/vanity with chair; a mini-refrigerator; an electronic safe; closed-circuit television (CNN, TNT, Retro-TV, ESPN, multiple live NFL Football games on Sundays, Ship’s Course channel, several free movie channels, Ship Information channel, Excursion Information channel, etc.); a volume control for the in-room announcement speaker; three electrical outlets (both 220 and 110 volt); and a hair dryer was in one of the drawers – I was told that this is a recent addition to the Vision class RCCL ships. Every review I read prior to this cruise advised that there was plenty of storage space in RCCL Vision Class staterooms. These reviews were absolutely correct. You could easily store enough clothing for a 14-night cruise for two people, and still have plenty of room to spare. In addition to the ample-sized closet, there were no less than 16 drawers, a full height cabinet by the stateroom door, a large cabinet over the safe, and both the vanity in the room and the vanity in the bathroom had hinged side mirrors with small shelves behind them. Even the ottomans were hollow by design to provide extra storage space. The only negative thing I have to say in this regard is that in order to get your empty luggage under the bed, you have to lift up the bed a little. If the beds were just three more inches off the floor, you could simply slide the bags underneath without having to struggle a little. Whoever designed the storage spaces for these staterooms deserves a round of applause. Well done RCCL. Overall Level of Service I am not being paid by RCCL to write this review, but I must say that we felt that the service was exceptional. We were always greeted with a smile and a “good morning” by every crewmember we came into contact with. When we asked questions or advice from members of the crew we were always taken seriously and we never had the impression that the crewmember had given the same tired answer to hundreds of people during our cruise – even though I’m sure they had. With the exception of the omelet station and on embarkation/disembarkation, we never had to wait in long lines. If a photographer offered to take our picture or a bar waiter offered us a drink and we politely refused, they graciously accepted our request and left us alone. I only had one slightly bad experience with a crewmember, and to an extent it was my fault. I had asked a crewmember who had an “American” sounding accent if she was from the States – she advised me in no uncertain terms that she was a Canadian. At the time I was a little surprised by her rebuke, but in hindsight it’s kind of funny. The crew was made up of over 100 nationalities. This young lady from Canada was the first crewmember I suspected might be from the USA. Evidently she didn’t like my assumption, and I can certainly respect her sense of national pride. In the overall service category, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the crew a 9+. These people knew we had paid good money to take a vacation on their ship, and they seemed to reflect that fact in the way they provided their services. The Ship - Overview Grandeur of the Seas is a beautiful creation of the shipyard that built her. She is decorated with lots of natural wood, exterior glass walls, and a large collection of artwork is displayed throughout her. Although she is now five years old and showing the customary wear and tear of any ocean-going vessel, she is in fantastic shape, and regular maintenance procedures were observed during our cruise. At more than 900 feet in length and just over 100 feet of beam, she is a large vessel. But the size is not overwhelming when on board. The layout is excellent – even though you have to pass through the casino to get to the Theatre (certainly not a mistake on the part of the marketing group). After just a few hours on board it would be difficult to get lost. For the rare time when you might become disoriented, each elevator lobby contains a two-dimensional layout of the entire ship, complete with the ubiquitous “you are here” sticker. There are six lifts amidships and three more forward. The only time we experienced long waits for a lift was when the ship first docked at a port, and again just prior to sailing. Otherwise there seemed to be plenty of lift space to go around. The Centrum Upon entering the vessel at embarkation, you find yourself at the bottom floor of “The Centrum” – a large 5 story atrium running all the way to the top of the ship with two glass elevators running up and down one side. Each balcony level within the Centrum has a sitting area and some levels have public rooms adjacent to the Centrum – Pursers’ Desk, Excursion Desk, Shops, Card Room, Library, Internet café, etc. The bottom level of the Centrum has a large lobby area complete with a waterfall and a marble staircase/presentation stage that, during the cruise, was used for entertainment, dancing, cooking and vegetable carving demonstrations, and “art auctions”. This level also has a champagne bar where patrons can order their favorite champagne by the glass or by the bottle. For our cruise, the Centrum was decorated for the holiday season with Christmas trees, poinsettias and a Hanukkah banner. I understand that the Centrum is a signature feature on all RCCL ships built in the past ten years. It provides an excellent first impression when entering the ship and it adds to the feeling of space on board. For a first time-cruiser, the Centrum is surely a wonder to behold. Pool Deck All swimming pools and whirlpools on this ship are filled with chlorinated salt water. The pool deck consists of two distinct sections: The Main Pool Deck and The Solarium Pool Deck. The Main Pool Deck is located on Deck 9 between the amidships lifts and the forward lifts. This area has 4 whirlpools and the main swimming pool, plus the requisite poolside bar. Each whirlpool is covered with a small gazebo type roof while the main pool is out in the open. Freshwater “rinse off” showers are located next to the whirlpools. The Main Pool is for adults and children, although anyone under age 16 is not allowed in the whirlpools. Parents please note that infants and toddlers who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the pools, even with a “swimmy diaper.” Plenty of deck chairs (without cushions) are available and about 1/3 of these are located under the sundeck roof so non-sun worshipers can hang out by the pool and not get too many rays. On sea days, the chairs that are exposed to the sun fill up fast, but Pool Attendants are told to remove towels from any chairs not occupied for more than 30 minutes. Fresh towels are in constant supply and the area is kept relatively neat and clean. The Main Pool deck is divided into smoking and non-smoking – smoking on the starboard side, non-smoking on the port side. The Solarium Pool Deck is located on Deck 9 just aft of the amidships lifts. The Solarium is a relatively unique concept. It is an indoor pool with a sliding glass roof that covers the entire area. While many reviews we read prior to our cruise suggested that the roof was always kept closed for the entire cruise, we found that most of the time during the day it was open, and was closed each evening. The whole area is decorated in Romanesque marble complete with columns and gold leafing. Personally I thought it was overdone, but nonetheless the area was very inviting. The Solarium Pool deck contains two whirlpools that are restricted to adults only and a swimming pool that has a whirlpool bubbler in the center of it. All deck chairs in this area have plush cushions and the whole atmosphere is much more quiet and relaxed than that of the main pool. This area also has two “rinse off” showers and a bar – which seemed to be closed most of the time. At the rear of the solarium is the world famous Solarium Café which serves pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers and french-fries. Soft drinks, beer and ice cream are usually available for purchase at a makeshift bar conveniently set up right next to the café’s counter. My opinion is that the pizza was kind of crummy, but that didn’t stop my wife and I from having a slice or two each evening. Of course with all the other food on board, if you don’t like the pizza, you certainly won’t go hungry. Salon, Health Club and Jogging Track Being a desk-jockey, I can’t say that I spent any time in this area. However, it did appear that anyone having a “health attack” during their cruise will not be disappointed with the facilities. The Salon and Health Club are located on Deck 9 just to the rear of the Solarium. Power walking is permitted on the Promenade (Deck 5) during most daylight hours, and unlike other Vision Class ships that I read about prior to this cruise, the Promenade does circuit the entire vessel. However, jogging is restricted to the Compass Deck (Deck 10) so as not to disturb the guests in their staterooms below the Promenade. If you’re a die-hard jogger, I would suggest doing so early in the day before the deck chairs on the Compass Deck fill up and block the jogging circuit. The Compass Deck also has a few shuffleboard courts, Ping-Pong tables and a very small miniature golf putting box. Windjammer Buffet Located on Deck 9 forward, the buffet served meals almost constantly between the hours of 6am and 9:30pm with short breaks in between meals to clean up and change the menu. It is attractively decorated and offers panoramic views while dining. We ate all our breakfasts in the Windjammer and the food was pretty good. The menu offered a wide variety of items including the All-American healthy breakfast of bacon, sausage, potatoes, pancakes or French Toast, and a cooked-to-order omelet station. For those who are more careful about what they eat, there was plenty of fruit, breads and cereals. Orange juice, grapefruit juice, coffee and tea were also available. During breakfast, tables in the Windjammer can be hard to come by – especially those next to the windows. Although you were not offered any sort of real service in the buffet, the staff was very quick to clean the tables just as soon as they were vacated. We ate about half of our on-board lunches in the Windjammer. The menu varied each day and the quality was pretty good – the deserts were awesome. Beverages included ice tea and lemonade. The only drawback was that if you wanted a soda during lunch in the Windjammer, you had to go to the pool bar and purchase it. When eating in the dining room for lunch (and dinner, for that matter) sodas were complimentary. We chose not to eat any of our dinners in the Windjammer as we preferred the full-service dining room. However, passengers who do not want to eat in the dining room always have the option of eating at the buffet. Reasons might include not wanting to dress up for dinner, or arriving from a portside excursion late in the day. The dinner menu in the Windjammer always included at least two or three options from the regular dining room menu. Prior to this cruise, I read many reviews that said the food in the Windjammer was not very good. I found that during most meals we ate there, we always found something to our liking. While I wouldn’t rate the food quality a 10, keep in mind that this is a cafeteria style buffet, and it’s certainly a while lot better than the university cafeteria that most of us remember from our younger days. Great Gatsby Dining Room The main dining room is a two-story facility with seating for approximately 1200. The lower level (Deck 4) covers the entire width of the ship while the upper level (Deck 5) is a balcony that overlooks the center of the lower level. Floor to ceiling windows are found throughout the dining room on both levels. For this cruise we had requested a table for two, and were we assigned a small table on the second level right next to the grand staircase. We had a view of the entire dining room with the waterfall and bandstand on the far end. Each evening a trio of musicians provided dinner music – although they played the same tunes every night. Our Head Waiter, Waiter and Assistant Waiter were all fantastic. The Headwaiter doted on the children that were on board and it was obvious that he really liked kids of all ages. Our Waiter provided us with her menu suggestions each evening and although this seemed somewhat rehearsed, there were a few times when she advised us to avoid certain dishes. The service was very attentive even though we were as far away from the galley as you could get. On the first formal night, we were given an anniversary cake by our wait staff (which, by the way, was absolutely delicious) and they sang happy anniversary for us. We found that by the end of the cruise, we wanted to take our servers home with us. These people work very hard for a living – seven days a week for six months at a time – and they genuinely enjoy providing great service. When ordering dessert one evening, I made a remark about not being able to decide because everything on the menu looked delicious. I finally settled on one item, but a few minutes later our waiter filled our table with all five items from the dessert menu. Needless to say we were somewhat embarrassed but eternally grateful. The wine menu was pretty extensive considering you’re in a closed environment. We found several good bottles of wine that were priced in the $20 range. The menu changed every night. Every menu offered at least six choices for an appetizer, one salad, and at least five choices for an entrée. In addition to the regular menu, they always offered a Caesar salad, a New York Strip, and some sort of chicken dish. There was only one evening that I found myself ordering from the alternate menu, and the steak I ordered was delicious. A healthy menu is featured each evening for those on a diet – though I wonder why anyone on a diet would go on a cruise. The food ranged from adequate to very good – mostly on the very good side. A few items were not seasoned to my taste, but a little salt or pepper seemed to improve them. Overall we were quite happy with the quality of the food served in the dining room, and most of the desserts were to die for. Again, several reviews we read prior to this cruise had really knocked RCCL’s dining room food quality. I suppose if you are used to eating at five-star restaurants every night, then you might find yourself disappointed. Otherwise, I can’t imagine anyone having a legitimate complaint about the food, especially with the wide variety of menu offerings. Mind you that I usually eat to live, while many cruisers live to eat – at least while they’re on vacation. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the food quality an 8 and the service a 9+. RCCL’s Suggested Dress Code vs. Reality I am adding this section to try to dispel a few myths and to comfort any first-time cruisers that may panic about the evening dress codes. On our cruise we had two formal nights, two “smart casual” nights (although we were told there would be three nights like this), and six casual nights. For formal nights RCCL suggests that woman were cocktail dresses and men wear suits and ties or optional tuxedos. The reality for formal nights is that about half of the passengers really dressed up (i.e., wedding reception attire), while the other half wore a suit or dress that would commonly be worn to a nice restaurant. On formal nights I wore a blazer and tie with darker kaki slacks, and my wife wore either a simple black dress or a business suit. If you really like to get in a tux and dress to the nines, go for it. Otherwise, if you have something that is acceptable, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I should point out that we had the Main seating for dinner. I suspect that during the second seating, more people may have been wearing formal attire. On “smart casual” nights, RCCL suggests dresses and pantsuits for women and jackets and ties for men. The reality here is that while some people dressed as suggested, at least half of the passengers wore what most companies in the workplace today accept as neat casual. I wore Dockers and a nice sport shirt (i.e. polo) and my wife wore slacks and a blouse. On casual nights RCCL suggests sport shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or pants for women. Casual nights brought out the widest variety of attire. A few of the men wore a sport jacket without a tie. About half the passengers wore the attire suggested by RCCL. The other half wore very comfortable but neat clothing. On most casual nights both my wife and I wore nice blue jeans and a nice shirt (i.e. polo, collared shirt, or tropical shirt) The only hard rule is no shorts in the dining room for dinner, and no bathing suits in the dining room during breakfast or lunch. My wife is usually concerned about the way she dresses when in group situations as she doesn’t want to feel under-dressed. Even dressed the way we were – which was somewhat below RCCL’s recommendations – we never felt uncomfortable. The Palladium Theatre and On-board Entertainment The approximately 1200-seat theatre is located in the bow of the ship on Decks 5 and 6. The seating was comfortable and most seats provided a good view of the stage. There are several seats in the balcony that have columns blocking their view of the stage. Every night we sat in the second row in the center of the balcony. I suggest that guests arrive at least 15 minutes prior to showtime to make sure they get a decent seat – earlier if the ship is at capacity. If you have early seating, all your shows will be staged after your dinner – usually at 8pm. For second seating guests, some shows are staged prior to dinner (around 6:45pm), and some are staged after dinner (around 10pm). The on-board entertainment was very good, sometimes even excellent. The twelve-piece Grandeur of the Seas Orchestra provided backup music for the headline entertainers and also for the Broadway-style production shows. We felt that the headliners were geared toward the older folks in the crowd, but nonetheless, the shows were all very good. Headliners on our cruise included Los Pampos Grandos, The Coasters (as in “Yakity Yak, Don’t Talk Back”), Craig Dahn (concert pianist), Bobby Arvon (voice of the TV series Happy Days – and a hell of a performer impressionist), Comedian Burt Leigh, and Recording Artist Lenny Welch. On three nights during our cruise, the Royal Caribbean Entertainers put on very good Broadway-style musicals. All but one were excellent – especially the Tribute to Carole King. I still don’t know how the performers danced on a stage that was rolling with the seas, but they were really good at their work and not one dancer ever fell. Considering that the production support staff consists of only eight people, it’s a miracle that these shows are staged as professionally as they are. Other entertainment included audience participation events such as horse racing, BINGO (the jackpot reached almost $8,000 on our cruise), an “adults only” scavenger hunt, sexiest legs contest, belly-flop contest, ballroom dancing and disco dancing in the nightclub, informal bridge tournaments, arts and crafts, and battle of the sexes – just to name a few. As with all cruised we’ve been on, there is an endless number of entertainment activities to participate in, if you so choose. Casino Royale The on-board casino is located on Deck 5 between the Centrum and the forward lifts. As mentioned earlier, if you want to get to the main level of the theatre, you’ll have to pass through the casino, so you won’t have any trouble fining it. Like any casino, many of the dealers are very friendly, while some don’t like to talk while they’re working. The casino has a good supply of nickel, quarter, $1, and $5 slot machines, as well as video poker. Table games include roulette, black jack, caribbean stud poker and craps. Table limits are typically $5 minimum and $100 maximum. If you are a beginner, and want to try your luck at the tables, free instruction is offered on the first night of the cruise. On all sea days, the casino has a “happy hour” from 5pm to 6pm. As I like to gamble for entertainment and not to win or lose a lot of money, I took advantage of this on every sea day. During happy hour the table limits are reduced to $1 minimum and $20 maximum at certain tables, and roulette is offered for 50 cents. Tables fill up early for happy hour. If you want to participate, I suggest that you arrive no later than 4:45pm, ask the pit boss what tables will be used for happy hour, and then park yourself in a seat at your desired table. If you are a skilled player, keep in mind that many of the happy hour players are novices. Patience will be required when some fool splits a pair of tens at the blackjack table, or hits on a 14 when the dealer is showing a 6, for example. But hey….you’re not betting $100 a hand either. On Board Shopping Neither of us are really big on shopping, so I won’t spend a lot of time talking out this area of the ship. There are several shops located on Deck 6 between the Centrum and the forward lifts. There is a Duty Free liquor shop, a sundry and souvenir shop, a fine jewelry shop, a clothing shop that has some formalwear and name brand labels, a fragrance shop, a gift shop, and a photography shop – in addition to the photo gallery. All charges at any of the shops must be made using your Super Charge Card. Hours will vary by day – most shops and the casino are closed when in port. Additional shopping can be found on sea days up on the pool deck where some jewelry, t-shirts, etc. are offered for sale. Also, a representative from Park West Galleries was on board during our cruise “auctioning” framed and matted artwork. If you are an art collector, you might find a bargain here. Frankly, I was a little skeptical of the concept. Ship’s Photographers If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, you can skip this section. If you are a first time cruiser, don’t be surprised to find a photographer who wants to take your picture every time you get on or off the ship. These same people will offer to take your picture several times in the dining room during your cruise, and of course, a friendly “no thanks” will send them on their way. If you want a formal portrait taken, the photographers are set up in the Centrum on all Formal and Semi-formal nights. Remember, just because you have your picture taken, you are under no obligation to purchase the photos. All photos are put on display in the photo gallery each day (on Deck 6), and you have the choice of either purchasing the photos, or discarding them in the unwanted photo boxes found throughout the photo gallery. Typically 5x7’s are $10, and 8x10’s are offered for $20. My personal suggestion is to wait until near the end of the cruise and then review all your photos at the same time. This gives you the opportunity to compare all your shots, making your decision of which photos to buy somewhat easier. If you need photo-processing services for film shot in your camera, overnight processing is provided right on board and the price is comparable to 1-hour processing rates found ashore in the US. International Telephone Calls Telephone calls can be made from your stateroom at any time, but the cost is rather high at $7.95 per minute. Cell phones will work when within sight of the US shoreline and in many foreign ports, but I strongly recommend calling your cell provider for coverage and rate information before leaving the US. As we were leaving our five-year-old son at home for this trip, we knew that we were going to call home at least once per day, if only just to say high. I did some research prior to our trip and found that AT&T pre-paid calling cards offered the best rates, and getting a connection to AT&T wasn’t supposed to be a hassle either. However, the reality was that in every country except Mexico, the local pay phone companies blocked all pre-paid calling cards – obviously they want you to spend $3 or more per minute using their own services. We first ran into this problem in the Cayman Islands and fortunately our cell phones worked there – about $2 per minute. However, in Jamaica we found ourselves stuck….until we asked the Purser for his advice. I simply asked him where the crewmembers made their phone calls. He pointed us in the direction of a shopkeeper near the pier who let us use his phone for $1 per minute. In both Aruba and Curacao, there were telephone centers right at the pier that openly advertised 99cents per minute back to the States. You go into the store, write down the number you want dialed, they connect the call (using their own pre-paid calling cards…go figure) and they time your call on a stopwatch. When you complete the call, you simply pay them in cash. Compared to MCI’s 5-cent Sundays this still seems expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than any other alternative we could find. Itinerary and Ports of Call Day 1 – Friday Left Miami a little late – close to 6pm. We were the last of 5 ships to leave the terminal that day. The delay posed no problems for us as we had plenty of time to make our first port of call on Sunday. Evening attire was casual. Day 2 – Saturday At Sea. Good weather. Average speed of 16 knots. Smooth seas. Evening attire was formal, and dinner was preceded by the Captain’s Cocktail Reception. Day 3 – Sunday Arrived Cozumel at 6am local time (7am ship’s time – we did not change the clocks in Mexico). At this port we took the Tulum Mayan Ruins and Xel-Ha Combination Tour. This tour was almost 8 hours long so we had no time at all to go ashore and see Cozumel, but the tour was excellent. We took the 30 minute ferry ride to Playa Del Carmen in a modern, air-conditioned, two-story passenger ferry – for those prone to sea-sickness this journey will try the soul on rough days. Upon arrival in Playa Del Carmen we were grouped together and directed on a two minute walk to the tour bus. The ride to Tulum was approximately one hour and along the way we stopped for 15 minutes at a roadside shop. Clean restrooms were available and it gave those on the tour their only real opportunity to do any shopping. While driving to Tulum, our guide gave us an historical overview of the Mayan people, their culture, their calendar system, and general information about the ruins. Once we arrived, we spent about 2 hours at the ruins themselves. The tour guide was interesting, informative, and extremely knowledgeable. After completing this portion of the tour, our bus driver offered us a boxed lunch (packaged aboard the ship) and a choice of local beer or Pepsi. We ate our lunch on the way to our next stop in the Xel-Ha National Park. This turned out to be the best part of the trip. The fresh and saltwater lagoons were really spectacular. The entire park was extremely clean and snorkeling equipment was offered at an additional charge. Instead of snorkeling, we took the two hours at Xel-Ha to walk around the entire park. We decided that if we ever come back to the Yucatan again, we would definitely plan to spend an entire day at the park. The tour ended with a half hour bus ride back to the ferry and a half hour ferry back to the ship. On board the return ferry there were merchants selling t-shirts and other souvenirs at really good prices. The ferry arrived approximately 30 minutes prior to sailing at 4:00pm. This was the highest priced tour at Cozumel, but we both feel it was well worth the price. Evening attire was smart casual. Day 4 – Monday Arrived Grand Cayman at 10:00am local time and anchored in the harbor. For those of us on a tour, tender service was reserved for us. If you didn’t have a tour ticket, you were required to get tender tickets at the Purser’s Desk starting at 9am. Each ticket specified a tender number, and these numbers were announced when that tender was available. This was done to avoid a mob scene at the Tender Station on Deck 1. At Grand Cayman we decided to take the Stingray City Tour. Although we enjoyed all the tours on the trip, this was by far the best of the lot. A school bus was used for the 5-minute ride to the marina. From there the boat crew started off on the half-hour ride to one of the Stingray City sandbars. Along the way the crew explained what to expect, how to handle the stingrays, and most importantly, how not to handle them. For those who forgot to pack one, underwater disposable cameras were offered on board for $20 – I would suggest buying one before leaving the States at half the price. The colors of the water in the bite were spectacular, especially near the sandbars out by the reef. This is the most colorful water we had seen since our honeymoon to the islands of Tahiti. After arriving at Stingray City, the crew anchored off the sandbar and immediately a swarm of about 50 stingrays surrounded the stern of the boat. The boat had swimming ladders on either side of the stern, and the water was only 4 feet deep – easy on, easy off. Snorkels and masks were provided, but fins and aqua socks were forbidden. We were given one hour to “swim with the fishes.” I swear this was the best underwater experience of my life. Stingrays swam right up to us and rubbed their wings on our legs like a cat waiting for its dinner – which is exactly what they were doing. You could actually pet them as they swam by. A few brave souls even let them lay in their arms and brought them right up near the surface of the water. If you were so inclined, you could feed them squid provided by the crew. One word of warning: In order to fully enjoy this tour you should be comfortable in the water, comfortable with snorkel gear, and comfortable with animals. If not, the stingrays sense your discomfort and actually crowd around you – no kidding…they actually gang up and tease the tourists who really aren’t sure if they want to be in the water with them. When exiting the water, a fresh water hose shower was provided on the stern deck of the boat. Once everyone was aboard, the return trip started. Along the way the crew offered various items for purchase – hats, towels, stuffed plush toy stingrays, t-shirts, etc. Upon arrival at the dock we waited for a few minutes for our bus driver, and just a few minutes later we were back in the wharf area. We had plenty of time to do some light shopping and then returned to the ship for some relaxation and food. Departed at 6:00pm. Evening attire was casual. Day 5 – Tuesday Arrived Jamaica around 7:00am. Unfortunately the tour we had selected for Jamaica had been canceled – I assume due to lack of participation. Prior to this cruise I was told by almost everyone I spoke to that Jamaica was not a nice place. They described as being like New York City – it’s beautiful from the plane, but when you get up close and personal…….. The weather was hot but nice and at first glance from the ship, Jamaica seemed to be beautiful. Trying to keep an open mind, we forged ahead to see for ourselves. Without totally going off the deep end, suffice it to say that once we got off the ship we found Jamaica to be an absolute armpit. The shopping was horrible and the local people don’t leave you alone. I must have said “no thank you” about 100 times during the hour we were ashore. Poverty is rampant. 2.3 million people live on an island the size of New Jersey and there is no real industry to speak of. They have a high crime rate – murder count was at 178 for the year when we visited, and illegal guns were becoming a serious problem. We spent less then one hour ashore in a shopping center and then immediately headed back to the ship to spend the afternoon in the Solarium pool. I really want to ask RCCL (or any cruise line for that matter) why they even bother stopping in Jamaica. The passengers that went to Dunn’s River Falls said they had a good time. Everyone else never wanted to see the place again. My apologies to any Jamaicans who might be reading this, but I truly did not like the place. Departed at 6:00pm. Evening attire was casual or Caribbean wear. Day 6 – Wednesday At Sea. Good weather. 15-foot seas for the most of the day. Made about 20 knots all day long. Evening attire was “Semi-formal” – I guess that meant smart casual. Set clocks ahead one hour before going to bed to get us on Atlantic Time. Day 7 – Thursday Arrived Aruba at 8:00am. For some reason no clearance announcement was made and the wake-up call system was having problems as well. If I hadn’t gone down to Deck 1 to check for myself, I would have never known we could have gone ashore, and we would have likely missed our tour. This was the only serious service issue we had on the entire cruise. The weather here was somewhat humid and warm, but not uncomfortable. At this port of call we took the Aruba Hike and Snorkel Tour. Our guide met us in the terminal building. Our group included only 15 people. We were loaded onto a converted school bus that had its windows removed – an “open air safari bus.” The bus was painted in bright colors and had two fake Iguanas on the hood. A little corny but kind of cute too. Our guide drove us through town and headed east. He kept us informed the whole time about the various buildings and sites as we passed them. He explained that the climate in Aruba was pretty dry – only about 17 inches of rain per year, and most of that came in Autumn. After visiting Jamaica, we were delighted to find that Aruba has one of the best standards of living of all the caribbean islands. The unemployment rate was less than 4%. Much of this is due to the large petroleum refinery on the island and the fact that the government has done a great deal to promote tourism over the past ten years. The people of Aruba were warm and inviting. It appeared that our guide got up a little late that morning because he had to stop and buy diesel for the bus and ice for our drinks. He apologized for having to interrupt the tour, but we all liked the fact that we got to see a little bit of suburban Aruba in the process. Once we were fueled up, he drove us to the far southeast corner of the island to a place called Colorado Point. Here we got off the bus and hiked about a quarter of a mile to the edge of a cliff. Below us was a natural bridge and magnificent views of the surf. Our guide carefully led us down the cliff to an area adjacent to the natural bridge. We stayed there for about 15 minutes to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. We were the only people in the area – much nicer than the more popular Natural Bridge on the north side of the island that attracts several tour busses per hour. After a somewhat challenging climb back to the top, our guide broke out the Pepsi for us and gave some to some baby Iguanas as well. Our next stop was at Baby Beach. This is a shallow lagoon-like beach with a protecting reef. Here we were supplied with fins, life vests and snorkel gear, and given brief instructions on how to get out to the reef where the best snorkeling would be found. Although I’ve been to much better snorkeling spots in the world, this was a nice beach with more locals than tourists and it was clean and well kept. In fact, while we were at the beach a large group of school children appeared for their swimming lessons. Our guide explained that the beach got its name because the shallow water made it easy for kids to learn how to swim there. All the elementary schools on Aruba included swimming lessons in their curriculum. After an hour of snorkeling, we were loaded up for the trip back to town. Our guide gave us moroccas and cranked up the tunes. He told us to smile for the cameras as we got back to town. Sure enough, every time we stopped for a traffic light, all the other tourists wanted to take pictures of the bus. We were returned to the ship terminal in time for lunch. The rest of the day we spent strolling though a shopping mall, and relaxing on our verandah. Evening attire was casual. After dinner we went into town for an ice cream. The ship departed at 12:30am. Day 8 – Friday Arrived in Curacao at 8:00am. We took it easy in the morning and then went into town to look around the shops. This island was really cute. It had multi colored houses along the waterfront and a swinging pedestrian bridge across the harbor. We were walking on it when it suddenly began to move and all the locals started running to get to the other side before the were stuck on the bridge for a few minutes while it was open. We ran too and made it just in time. We spent a few hours looking in the shops here and then headed back to the ship for our afternoon Discover Curacao Tour. The afternoon weather turned very hot and very humid. The tour involved a bus ride through the western harbour district where we made a twenty minute stop at the Curacao Museum – not to be confused with the Smithsonian. We then continued on to the Hotel District and then to the volcanic caves on the north side of the island near the airport. We were given a very interesting 30 minute guided tour of the caves including a brief discussion of stalagmites and stalactites. And the history of how slaves had discovered the caves and had hid there while attempting to escape. At the end of the tour we were then driven to the Curacao Liqueur Distillery where free samples were offered and souvenirs were sold. Finally after a brief drive through town we were returned to the ship about 30 minutes prior to departure. Departed at 6:00pm. Evening attire was casual. Day 9 – Saturday At Sea. Good weather. 15-foot seas in the morning reduced to 9 feet by late morning. Made 21 knots all day long. Evening attire was formal. Day 10 – Sunday At Sea. Good weather. Light seas most of the day. Made 15 to 18 knots. Spent the afternoon packing, filling out the Opinion Card and getting gratuity envelopes ready. Please note that if you run out of cash, gratuity vouchers can be purchased from the Purser for the RCCL suggested amounts. If you want to give more than the suggested amount, you can “purchase” cash from the Casino Cashier and have it added to your Super Charge account. Evening attire was casual. Color-coded baggage tags were placed in our stateroom while at dinner and all baggage had to be outside our stateroom door by 11:30pm. Disembarkation Disembarkation is done by the color-coded baggage tags given to us the day before. On the final morning of the cruise, breakfast was available from 6:00am to 8:00am. After breakfast we had to clear out of our stateroom and wait for disembarkation in a public area. We waited in the Solarium for our disembarkation announcement. While it looked like the other public areas of the ship were packed with people waiting to get off the ship, the Solarium was almost deserted. When our color was called we made our way down to Deck 4 to get off the ship. Suddenly all the passengers who had been so polite and friendly for the past ten days were now acting like a bunch of New York cab drivers trying to merge into the Lincoln Tunnel. The process was slow, the Centrum lobby area was way overcrowded, and some passengers got downright rude. This definitely could have been handled better than it was. It seemed that even though the crowd had not yet thinned out, the next disembarkation announcement was made and the crowding got even worse. After standing in line in the Centrum lobby for about 30 minutes, we were able to make our way off the ship. It only took about 2 minutes to clear immigration, about 10 minutes to get our bags from the baggage belt, and 1 minute to clear customs. Before we knew it, we were on our transfer bus back to Ft. Lauderdale airport. We arrived at the airport at 11:00am, just in time to wait for four and a half hours for our flight’s departure. Unfortunately, I can’t give RCCL high marks for the disembarkation process. Cattle are herded better. It’s really too bad that they had to end a wonderful vacation in this way. Our overall experience was very good and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this trip. We definitely recommend this cruise and RCCL in general and would jump at the chance to take this cruise again. Bon Voyage!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, 2001

Circle Caribbean

GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS - 11/30/01 - 10 nights Embarkation - All went smoothly, although a little slow, due to the extra security. RCI is doing something new however, for Platinum and Diamond ‘Crown & Anchor’ members. We say “new,” because we may have been the first ones (experimental group?), or maybe they have done this since they opened the new terminal. They have a special room set aside at the terminal; I believe it’s called the ‘Crown

and Anchor Room.’ We arrived for embarkation early, as did about half of all who were sailing, and were directed to this ‘special’ room, for ‘special’ treatment and had all the paperwork completed and our cabin keycard in our hands about 3 minutes after we arrived. We were then directed to the stairs leading to the gangway. We passed a very long line of people who, we thought, still had to register, or didn’t have a clue what line they were in. We bobbed and weaved our way to the stairs, when we were stopped by security and almost accosted by an angry mob. They thought we were “cutting in,” and since they had been standing in line for “hours,” they were ready to attack. No one understood (or cared) that we just were doing as we were told. So we meekly walked all the way to the back of the line. All-in-all, we still boarded the ship around 12:15PM. Preface - First of all, we have to say, we’ve cruised on the Grandeur of the Seas in 1997 and have done this exact same itinerary sailing the Splendour of the Seas in 1999. So, this was meant to be, and was, a totally relaxing cruise. Overall Impression - This was a wonderful cruise, but then again, out of the 15 we’ve been on, we haven’t hit a bad one yet. The Grandeur had just had a ‘spiffing up’ in October, so she looked shipshape, fresh, clean and sparkling. We had lots of sunny warm days (9, I believe) 1 cloudy day, comfortable nights, and only a couple of minute showers. The seas were relatively calm with a couple of light rock and roll nights. But for anyone contemplating this cruise, or any other cruise, these weather and sea conditions shouldn’t be taken as the norm. However, we find that this time period is ideal sailing for us. Both the staff and entire crew were very friendly and cooperative, with no false airs about their pleasantness toward the guests. We were always greeted with a friendly “Hello,” and a smile, and we believe they were genuine. The ship was only 3/4 of capacity and was dominated mostly by seniors, with just a handful of young adults, and the fewest number of children we’ve ever experienced. This ship and cruise would be ranked right up there as ‘one of the best’ and we’d strongly consider repeating it. Actually, we tried, but the Cruise Consultant on board wasn’t available most of the time, and her computer, with a direct link to Miami, was down the entire cruise. We did find out that the new Brilliance of the Seas will be taking over this itinerary in 2002. Cabin - C8088 - Bridge Deck - category C - stern cabin - We’ve never had a balcony cabin at the back of the ship before, but now believe that is the place to be. We spend a good amount of time, day and night, on the balcony. It’s especially enjoyable after the shows and casino, looking at the stars and the moon and listening to the sound of the Caribbean Ocean rushing pass us. Our stern balcony was large, measuring 12’ X 12,’ with 2 straight back chairs, 3 chaise lounges, and 2 small side tables. Starboard and portside balconies for category C are approximately 6 1/2’ X 11 1/2.’ On the way back to Miami (the last 2 days at sea), we did have sun most of the day out there. The cabin was roomy with lots of storage space, some of which we didn’t even use. Like the balcony, there was plenty of room to move about in comfort and relax, with 2 easy chairs, 2 hassocks (also used for storage) a sleeper sofa, coffee table, 2 beds made into a queen, refrigerator, safe and generous sized bathroom with tub. We could have called this cabin “home” on a longer cruise; it was that nice. The cabin could have been even roomier if one of the easy chairs were removed. We did do some rearranging. We have heard and read that there was excessive vibration and noise in the aft and stern cabins. There was very little of both; you could hear/feel it once in awhile, but one could simply say that a ship is a moving vehicle. The biggest disadvantage to having our cabin, is that it is above the galley, so you smelled food being prepared all the time. Even after you’ve just completed a 5 course dinner, and you walk out onto your balcony, you get the aroma, and you say, “Wow, does that smell good!” or, “When do we eat again?” Passengers - If we were young adults, which we aren’t, I would definitely say this was a geriatric group, so this particular sailing was not for the younger generation. Probably 75% were seniors, 20% middle aged, and only 5% younger families and younger couples, and we’d guesstimate 10% were not from the states. Being ‘people watchers,’ we observed many passengers, and found them very demanding and constantly complaining about something. From the moment we boarded the ship, there were people demanding an upgrade (until they found out they had to pay for one); complaining about not getting off the ship early enough at the ports of call; the hours set for breakfast, lunch and dinner; food; service, and it went on and on. We found it amusing, especially when you heard something like “ .... and I never saw my cabin steward until the third day.” That’s not the same as “..... my room hasn’t been made up in three days.” All this was, we’re sure, detrimental to the staff and crew. We couldn’t have disagreed more with these complainers. Again, it was a perfect, or as near perfect a cruise as we’ve had so far. They just seem to get better. Staff and Crew - This was one of the friendliest cruises we’ve been on. All members of the staff and crew had a sincere smile and a pleasant ‘Hello.” The Purser greeted us by name, and we wrote a note to the Captain praising the Purser for his kindly assistance, and the Captain sent the note back to the Purser with a ‘pat on the back’ comment. Our Head Waiter also referred to us by name, as did our room steward, waiter, and assistant waiter (although he had trouble with his “t’s” for one of our table mates). We asked several Head Waiters the very first day about a particular dining room staff member, someone who was our waiter on our very first cruise, and was kind of an influence on our desire to continue to. We did hook up with him back in ‘97 on the Grandeur, and was pleasantly surprised that he was still in the business, but this time, as a Head Waiter. Of course, all the Head Waiters knew Apollo, and ran over to get him. We hooked up once again, and he is now a Senior Head Waiter. It was fun reliving old times. Pool Seats - The age old problem of saving or reserving pool lounges wasn’t really an issue on this cruise. It happened a few times, but with very few people. Pool attendants placed towels over the lounge arm early every morning and these few “lounge hogs” were quick to take them and place on the back, and one or two more on the seat to make them look used and/or reserved. Then they would place a personal item (cap, book, t-shirt, etc.) to cement the fact that that was their ‘place’ for the day. This ritual usually occurs between 6:30AM - 8:30AM, but the occupants wouldn’t show up until near noontime. We were very tempted to run around and remove towels from the savers chairs, but resisted the urge! The days at sea are tough in that everyone wants to be poolside. If everyone who wanted to be by the pool occupied chairs while there and vacated them when they’ve had enough sun, there would be more than adequate space for everyone, even if they later chose to return. Fortunately, this wasn’t a major problem, since this group of passengers were late risers anyway. Shows - We didn’t attended most of the shows, but they seemed to been pretty good, based on what others have said - spent most of the evening in the casino or out on deck. We also heard that this was a tough crowd to please - couldn’t get them excited about much, although everyone seemed to enjoy the Coasters performance. Food - First, and foremost, in everybody’s mind, is FOOD. This is where RCI has to do a little more work. We rated the overall quality as good, but with a lot of room for improvement. We had our dinners at the Main Seating in the Gatsby Restaurant every night, and the service by our waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. What we were pleasantly surprised at was that the headwaiters were very visible, always around, worked, and visited every table every evening. This was the first cruise we experienced the workings of headwaiters. We did lunch in the main dining room most of the time and the buffet lunch in the Windjammer Cafe a few days. We had a hamburger (once) in the Solarium, and found it lacking. Actually, the hamburger offered in the main dining room was far superior to that served in the Solarium. We did do breakfast in the main dining room every other day - no one does Eggs Benedict as well as RCI!! The dining room has open seating for both breakfast and lunch. It was a pleasant surprise to find the wait staff so friendly and accommodating, even though they weren’t our “regular” waiter assistant, and headwaiter. We ate in the Windjammer Cafe (buffet) for lunch twice, but found the buffet menus weren’t very exciting to us. However, they must have been for others because there were constant lines, but no real crowding and shoving. Once again, staff members were very friendly here also. Here are our food breakdown ratings: breads and rolls - excellent, appetizers - v. good, entrees - good (also note, very few beef entrees), desserts - v. good. Shore Excursions - Having already been to all the ports of call in the past (Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Aruba, Curacao), we didn’t do any tours; kind of went off and did our own thing - mostly just poking around the stores, made a few purchases, and did a couple of beaches, and rented a Jeep in Aruba (from Amigo Car Rentals). But, RCI has done a great job of providing an ample number of varied excursions, so there are plenty to choose from for both first timers and experienced cruisers. Montego Bay is the only port that they didn’t provide excursion information prior to sailing. This may have been due to the civil disturbances Jamaica had earlier in the year, so they left it out of their tour publication. Overall Impression - We’d do this cruise again in a heartbeat. The new Brilliance of the Seas will be taking over this itinerary in 2002. Unfortunately, the onboard Cruise Consultant wasn’t of much help - wasn’t there, was sick, broken computer connection with headquarters, etc. This was a part-time position, soon to be full-time, so maybe more can/will be done. But, the Grandeur itself, is wonderful, kept up very well, and is neither large to small. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask

Read More
  • New

Jun 2, 2000

Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, Cococay

We had a fabulous vacation on Royal Caribbean.  We have 4 children ages 9, 10, and 12.  The kids program was excellent.  A clever move by RC was  video taping the kids’ activities.  They aired them on the TV the next day.  So, we got to see the fun our kids had.   Our best move was bringing walkie-talkies.  We were able to communicate and find our children at any time.   It was even more

effective while shopping on shore.  I suspect that once this has caught on, it will become more difficult to find unique channels.  Our waiters in the main dining room were great.  This is the 1st I’ve seen a head waiter get involved.  He even cut my kids food for them.  The food for lunches was odd at times and didn’t always suit the children’s tastes.  But there were always alternatives.  Do not play the slot machines.  No one won more than $400.  The Black Jack tables were lots of fun and the dealers were very helpful with new comers.  If you want a massage/facial, wait to book until the next to last day.  They run a huge special. Labadee was beautiful.  The straw market was quite intimidating.  They stuck things right in my kids hands and freaked them out.  We took the banana boat ride.  I must say it was a total blast. In San Juan, we took a tour outside the ship.  Not through RC.  I suspect we lost hearing some more interesting things.  But at the cost savings, I’ll live with it.  We paid $10 a person.   The fort is a must see.  The Crown and Anchor was a wonderful place to relax after shopping and quite an elegant retreat.   There was a liqueur store just off the ship at the port.  It had to incredible deals compared to anywhere else. St. Thomas was great.  This is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been too.  Once again we took a tour outside RC.  This time at $15 per person. Well worth it.  The shopping was far superior too.  Cococay has better snorkeling.  I also went parasailing.  It’s far more comfortable than I thought.  I just loved it.  RC’s staff was excellent guides for the event. Ever wonder what they’d do in case of an emergency?  We had a man have a heart attack at the furthest point from civilization.  They stopped the ship, cleared the top decks, and the coast quard helicoptered in for the pick up.  I spoke to the man’s wife the next day.  She was thrilled with how they had handled it, Although she was not allowed to go with her husband.  There was only room for the doctor to go.  

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

This was our first cruise. I went with my fiancé Patrick. All we can say is how sad we are that we are back in New York in 30 degree weather-almost everything was perfect about this cruise! We booked our flight through RCCl as this was recommended for us since we were flying during the winter and delays and cancellations are numerous. We felt comfortable with that there were twenty or so other passengers on our flight with us. The flight-er

airline-is one of the main problems we had with the trip. We were booked on Continental and had requested a vegetarian meal for both flights. Yet we did not get this. I have had this problem with Continental in the past so I don't know who to blame for this. We were picked up in san Juan with 30 or so other passengers and put on a bus to the ship. I had read reviews that talked about the lines of embarkment and we really only waited 25-30 minutes. We then proceeded to board the ship. We had heard that you couldn't bring any drinks onboard but saw lots of people carrying on cases of beer, soda, and water, and asked the cruise staff who were welcoming us onboard if we could do so-they said yes, so we turned back around and went to the duty free shop and bought beer for about 5 bucks a six pack, some water, and some soda. Finally we entered the ship again to find our room. We were very pleased with our stateroom-it was on the 7th floor a category D with a balcony. VERY NICE. We read the Compass left on our bed and found out we had only a few minutes left for the open lunch in the windjammer. After our lunch-we noticed they did not stop at the time the compass said they would, I think because a lot of flights were delayed-we toured the ship (or at least some of it). The ship is huge, I know not as big as the explorer or voyager, but it is still large enough that we found ourselves discovering new lounges and areas each day. Meals - we ate breakfast and lunch (sometimes a midday snack) in the windjammer which was nice and casual and for all those people who claim the windjammer is cafeteria food-when was the last time you ate in a cafeteria??? Going from high school, to college, and now in law school I can tell you that the windjammer is more like hotel food than cafeteria food. Being a vegetarian I also appreciated the signs on almost everything letting you know what things were. Also, the staff there was very nice and pleasant, coming around to refill your beverages, etc. The dining room was amazing. At first we were in the 1st seating, but got switched on request to the later seating. We were put at a table for 8 and the other six people were all family AND they didn't really speak English. This did not bother us because we were here to have a good time and we wanted to be in the later seating so we did not complain, etc. Anyways, the family was part of another table and between the whole family there were 6 kids I think, so that was the only night they ate in the dining room anyways. We were at a table for 8 but it was only the two of us. Our head waiter Daniel, our waiter Khalfi, and our assistant Butch always came over to talk with us, made us feel comfortable even though we were fine with each others conversation. The food was amazing and Khalfi always went over what he recommended for Patrick and then went over what he recommended for me since he knew I was a vegetarian. Butch always had our sodas waiting for us. We thought it was kind of funny because if you order a drink one night or in a special way you are going to get it like that from then on unless you ask for a change. For instance the first night I had a regular diet coke, but the second night I asked for it with a lemon and then on Butch put a lemon in it before giving it to me. Also I ordered a mint tea one night and when we were getting ready to order desserts the rest of the nights butch would have the mint tea ready for me. Activities - We went to three of the shows, the ones done by the royal Caribbean singers and dancers and the farewell show because we are not really familiar with the guests (we know them but are a little young for them)-Peter noon for Herman and the hermits (?) and the Osmond brothers. Also there was so much else going on-like the newly and not so newlywed game, battle of the sexes, and novel quest (not to be missed-bring your camera!) We also went to the disco a couple of nights, the casino, and the pool parties. Ports -we went to Aruba, Curacao, St Maartin and St Thomas. We didn't want to be bothered, etc so we took excursions in each of the ports. In Aruba we went on the off road adventure. I had been to Aruba before and took a regular bus tour-this is a whole other experience! we really liked it, although it is not meant for those with back, neck problems, or weak stomachs!!! We later took a taxi to Palm Beach and chilled out there for a couple of hours. After dinner we went to Carols and Charlie's (part of senor frogs), conviently located next to the ship-it was a blast, everyone was so wasted, including a bunch of the cruise staff! In Curacao we did the canoe safari which was amazing. I was not too impressed with the town-I don't know if that was because it was so hot or because it wasn't as nice as Aruba. In St Maartin we went on the beach rendezvous to Orient Beach. Very lovely-good if you just want to relax on the beach plus they give you a really good lunch and two free drinks. Some people went to Orient Beach on there own, but they had to lay on their towels instead of padded lounge chairs because there are more people than lounge chairs and they also charge for the lounge chairs if you are not in the group. Our sections was sort of fenced off for our excursion so only people on our excursion were in our area of the beach which prevented it from getting over crowded. Beware, Orient Beach has a Nudist section and when they go on walks, etc. you definitely get a view! In St. Thomas we went on the kayak eco tour which we decided to do after we went on the canoe safari-this was pretty cool especially the snorkeling, we saw a octopus and a really big barracuda. We were really sad to leave and are already contemplating another cruise-we heard from people on our ship Bermuda is really beautiful. Besides not getting the vegetarian meal again on the return flight-we came home only with happy memories, tan/burnt skin, and sand in all of our suitcases! Of course there were little things that could have bothered us, but we wanted to have a good time so we didn't let them bother us-people saving chairs at the pools and shows (and I am not talking about one or two-but like 15-20), rowdy young people who drank too much (very few and mostly late at night), and parents who don't watch there kids-hello they have a program on board (we saw them once in the windjammer for ice cream) if you don't want to watch your kids send them to the program. this was a problem especially by the solarium pool where there were no parents in sight but a number of kids. It didn't really bother us but I could see it annoying other passengers. The staff is really nice and helpful, if you have ANY problems or complaints, let someone know and they will remedy the situation and fast and as best as they can. Have fun and email us if you have any questions!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

I don't know that I could describe our cruise in one word, but excellent would be first.  My husband and I went on our first curise for our 30th wedding anniversary and now that I am back home and at work, it all seems like a dream.  For one week in our lives, we were treated like royalty.  It would take too long to describe every detail of our week, but I will high the highlights. Of course, I had read all kinds of reviews from

the web before we left and for the most part, that were good.  I had booked a room with a balcony and when we checked in, we had been upgraded.  Don't ask me how this happens, but we were in a room that was one step down from the royal suite and we couldn't believe it.  It was absolutely fantastic.  So nice and roomy.  The bathroom even had a whirlpool tub and a stand-up shower.  We felt like a king and queen.  Our cabin steward, David, was great.  Came in twice a day and catered to our every need. The ship itself is beautiful.  There is no way to describe it, you would have to see it.  When we have the opportunity to cruise again, it will definitely be Royal Carribean. The food was delicious, especially in the Great Gatsby dining room.  The entertainment that the staff put on was so enjoyable.  The filet migon was so tender.  The caesar salad were very good.  And the desserts, well that's my weakness and on occasion, the waiter gave extra.  They would accommodate your every whim.  If you wanted more to eat, they would see to it.  We never had to ask for drink refills, because they were there before you needed to ask. The private islands were Labadee, Haite and Coco Cay, Bahamas.  I would pick Labadee for the best swimming and relaxing in the water.  Coco Cay was more for the snorkling, it was a rocky beach and swimming area, but my husband enjoyed seeing all the fish. The ports were Purto Rico and St Thomas.  We just took a walking trip thru Purto Rico, it was o.k.  In St Thomas, we got a taxi and went over to Megan's Bay.  It is indeed beautiful and the water was wonderful for swimming.  The view on the ride over it worth the taxi fare.  The taxi driver even stopped right on the road so that we could get a snapshot of the bay and all the ships in the harbor. Oh and by the way, the celebrity guest that week on the ship were the Platters.  Well, anyone our age would know this group and it was great.  Got to meet them and get pictures and autographs.  Very friendly. There is so much more that I could say and comment on.  I think back now and realize that for one week it was like a fantasy dream for us and when things get hectic at work, we think back on our week on the Grandeur of the Seas and how much we enjoyed it.  We would definitely go again and go with Royal Carribean.  They have this cruise stuff down to a science with all the embarking and disembarking, which went so smooth also. If anyone has any questions they would like to ask or know about, just e-mail.  Will gladly give our opinion.      Good sailing.   Shar on

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

My cruise aboard the Grandeur of the Seas was #30....#28 with Royal Caribbean. I am a single cruiser and feel cruises are the safest way to travel by yourself. Everyone is there for the same reason so it's very easy to meet people and the best part is you never have to eat in a restaurant alone. Returning to Royal Caribbean ships is like a family reunion. Staff/crew members I have met on previous cruises remember me.

Pre-Cruise: I always like to fly to the port of embarkation a day ahead of time. This gives me peace of mind in case there are airline delays. Embarkation/Debarkation: Royal Caribbean's new terminal in Miami is beautiful. They have special check-in for Diamond Members (10 cruises with RCI) and it took no time at all. Signing you up for the SuperCharge card at the same time saves standing in another line on the ship. The debarkation was the smoothest I have ever encountered. The luggage belts like you see in airports made claiming your luggage much easier than searching around a warehouse-type area. Food/Service/Dining Room: Our table had excellent service in the Dining Room. Our waiter, Josip, and his assistant always greeted and served us with a smile. They remembered from one evening to another how we liked our steaks, which appetizer we would prefer and what we wanted to drink. The head waiter, Kirk, came to our table every night to make sure everything was to our liking. Bar Staff: The bar staff was superb. Whether on the ship or the private islands, they were there to serve you with a smile. The best part is they made a point of checking the name on your SuperCharge card and it didn't take too long for them to remember your name without looking. They were a great bunch of guys and very entertaining. Ports of Call: Labadee and CocoCay (private islands owned by RCI) are great places to stop for a very relaxing day. Find a hammock, relax and enjoy the breeze. Wander the islands and take in the beauty the surrounds you. At CocoCay we encountered the invasion of the jelly fish. Take it all in stride because you have no control over the acts of nature. After all, life could be worse....you could be at work! San Juan is an interesting place to explore. Take a trip to the El Morro Fort or walk around Old San Juan. St. Thomas is always a great stop for shopping, beaches or tours. If you haven't been to St. Thomas in a few years, take the Paradise Island Tram for a spectacular view of the harbor. It's well worth the $12.00 round trip fare for this breath-taking view. Entertainment: Overall, the entertainment was good. I was thrilled to see my favorite comedian was onboard ~ Don Wear, who wrote for the Bill Cosby Show. The band at the pool was fantastic. They could play anything and everything....even taking requests. I had never seen people dancing so much around the pool area. It was great! The Grandeur of the Seas is a beautiful ship. With the right frame of mind, you can't go wrong with a Royal Caribbean cruise. Everyone needs to go on a cruise with the attitude that they are going to have a good time and not complain about things. If we want things the way they are at home, we should stay home.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Miami, Haiti, San Juan, St. Thomas, Cococay

This was our 1st cruise. We have been married 5 years and never really got a honeymoon, so we made up for lost time. This was an absolute dream the staff was so friendly and treated you like a queen/king, never made you feel like you were bothering them. Dining was so nice and we met such nice people we even hung out with them in port. Haiti was a bit scary in the market "just say no". I would have rather been in St. Thomas an extra day.

San Juan was pretty nice we did the Bacardi tour it was OK. St. Thomas all I have to say is Kon Tiki if you like to Party this is it, Its well worth the money and Honeymoon beach is unbelievable, This was the best part of the whole cruise (What I remember-LOL). Just what ever you do do not go on any "FREE" tours in St. Thomas. And Cococay was a real adventure (take an underwater camera they work great) I have never been in the ocean until this trip and I have to say Snorkel in Coco Cay the have a sunk ship and the fish are just beautiful. On board the formal nights were so nice and the photos are well worth the money and not to bad in price. The shows were really good I didn't expect them to be as good as they were. The only part that I was kind of upset about is the dance clubs at night were FULL of teenagers I felt like I was at a high school dance, I think they should limit the times for young teens. The other thing is that a few things I wanted to do we couldn't because of dinner or the show they overlapped a few things. I was very impressed with the coordination though there was a man who had a heart attack on board and they had to stop the ship in the middle of the ocean and transport this man by helicopter and it seemed to go very smoothly. Except all these people actually video taped it which I thought was very tasteless the man was having a heart attack and people were taping it. The cruise was and absolute dream we said we'd like to do this every 5 years and my husband asked me the other day when we were looking through our pictures if we can go again next year. And it will definitely be on Royal Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

I have been on a lot of various types of vacations in my life including camping, shore/beach vacations, amusement parks, and Disney World, but none of these compare to a cruise. My wife, two sons (18 and 11), and I just returned from our nine day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. It was the most relaxing and refreshing vacation I have ever had, and we are already planning our next cruise. Since this was our first cruise,

we had stars in our eyes, and we have very few criticisms. There were others on our cruise who didn’t share our wonder and excitement, and I hope I never become like them. Let me give you a very thorough review of our experience and the things we learned during our maiden cruise voyage. First, get a passport. Beginning next year, anyone who cruises will have to travel with a passport. We found entering and exiting the ship in the various ports of call a lot easier with a passport than those who just used a birth certificate. Since you will have to have a passport in 2006, you might as well apply for one now. They are good for ten years for adults and five years for minors. Second, arrive to the port early to board. We sailed out of Baltimore, MD, for it was only two hours from our New Jersey home in Burlington County. We have family living in Baltimore who took us to the ship and picked us up when we returned. This saved us a $100.00, for we didn’t have to pay the $10.00 per day parking fee at the Port of Baltimore. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) states in its boarding documents to arrive and begin boarding at 2:00 P.M. We arrived at 1:00 and were permitted to board as soon as we got there. I was surprised to discover a friend of mine whom I taught with on board, and she told me they arrived between 11:00 and 11:30, and they were permitted to board when they got there. One of the things that really makes the pre-boarding experience a lot quicker is if you data entry all of your necessary information at Royal Caribbean’s website at least two weeks before your departure. You can’t do this until you receive all of your boarding documents and passport information. Once you put in the credit card you will be using for your stateroom charges, your passport information, and personal information for each of your family members at RCCL’s secure site, then you will be directed to print out a “SET SAIL PASS.” Print that document and place it with your boarding documents. (One caveat… Go back to the site after you print to double check that your Set Sail Pass is valid. I forgot to put some emergency contact person information in for my younger son, and it flashed at the “edit your information” link that my Set Sail Pass was no longer valid, and I had to print it again. Once you have all of the correct information in to RCCL, then you will see at green check mark next to each person’s name of your part.) That Set Sail Pass sent us directly to the front of the check-in lines, and we were on the boat within five minutes after we delivered our luggage. The check-in procedure is virtually painless. They check your passports, swipe your credit card, and collect your Bahamas Immigration Card that was sent with your cruise documents, and they issue you your Sea Pass Cards. These cards serve as your on-board credit card, room key, and your pass to exit and enter this ship at each of the ports. I allowed my sons to sign for their own room charges, and after I got my final bill, I noticed a lot of charges for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I may have to rethink that practice in the future. Once receiving your Sea Pass Card, you get your first photograph taken. Get used to this, for you will be photographed at every port and many other times during the cruise. You then pass through a couple of security checkpoints. The first checkpoint is the US checkpoint where you have your carry-on luggage scanned just like at an airport. You then go through RCCL’s checkpoint where you insert your Sea Pass Card, and they take your security photo. You also register your children for the Adventure Ocean program, and they get a security bracelet that they wear for the rest of the cruise. When we got on board, we went to find our stateroom. We were told the rooms wouldn’t be ready until after 3:00, but our room was ready, so we dropped off our carry-on luggage/backpacks. We loved the interior adjoining staterooms. The interior rooms are pitch black, and we loved sleeping in, especially on sea days. Our stateroom attendant, Valerie, was a sweetheart. She took great care of our rooms, and anything we needed she provided including extra pillows and other sundry items. Also, the animal shapes she made out of the towels were very clever and entertaining. We then set out to explore the ship. We also bought our sons’ soda passes for the cruise. This is a real bargain. Children under 12 get unlimited soda for $4.00 per day. The older son got it for $6.00 per day. Don’t buy one for yourself; just sip out of your kids’ drinks if you need a soda fix. There was free water, ice tea, coffee, and orange juice which is what my wife and I drink anyway. After exploring the ship, we ate lunch at the Windjammer Café. Grandeur of the Seas only has two restaurants to choose from for dining, The Windjammer and the Great Gatsby Dining Room. The Windjammer is exclusively a buffet restaurant with the exception of an omelet station at breakfast and a sandwich station at lunch; however, these lines are usually long, so we avoided those and opted for the buffet. I’ll discuss the Great Gatsby later in this review. >From what we were told, The Grandeur of the Seas is small compared to other RCCL ships, but we loved this ship because of its size. It wasn’t so big that we couldn’t get where we wanted to be in a short amount of time, but it wasn’t too small that you felt like you were crowded. There were a number of places that you could disappear for some quiet reading time. My favorite place was the balcony outside of the card and board game room. I’d drag a chair from one of the card tables and bring it out to the balcony to read and watch the ocean. My other favorite place was Deck 5 which we affectionately called the Muster Deck, for this was where our muster station drill took place. We set sail about 5:00, and we enjoyed the trip down the Chesapeake. There was a bunch of set sail activities at the pool deck; which were great fun. The Cruise Director’s Staff which is the Activities Staff were AWESOME on the Grandeur. We befriended many of them, but we especially loved Chris, Katie, and Kelly. They made us feel so welcome and encouraged us to participate in activities that we normally wouldn’t have even thought about, and we had a blast. Chris, especially, took a great interest in us, and he was determined to make sure that we had a grand vacation. He spent so much time with us that I feared he’d get in trouble from his superiors, but I soon learned that this was part of his job, and he did it very well. I hope he didn’t consider us a nuisance with all of our questions, but he is a large part of why we loved our first cruise. One of our favorite activities was the Karaoke Idol competition. My older son and I both made the finals which were held on our last Sea Day on the Palladium Theatre main stage. It was a rush performing in that elegant venue. Even more sweet was winning the competition. Alas, I wish they the grand prize had been another cruise, but it was just fun performing for a very supportive crowd. Dinner was one of our favorite times of the day. Our waiter, Ronilo, and our assistant waiter, Bruno, were awesome. They took such meticulous care of us and made dinner each night an entertaining adventure. At the end of the week, I felt like we had made two great new friends, but I’m sure they will just move on to their next group of cruisers and forget about us, but we will not forget them. Our table companions, Linda and Janice, were a delight. It was even more delightful to find out they were fellow educators. We so enjoyed their company, and they came out and supported us at all of Karaoke performances. I hope we stay in touch with them. The Ports of Call were the one area where I had some negative feelings, especially with Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. This island was unimpressive; the locals were nice, but for the most part the two market places reminded me of US flea markets. Most of the wares they were selling were boardwalk souvenir trinkets. If you are in the market for jewelry and china, then Freeport might be to your liking, but I would have preferred to have skipped this port, so we could spend more time at other ports. I’m sure that the Bahamas require a visit to one of its big islands in order for RCCL to be able to make a stop at its privately owned island Cococay. Cococay was a good stop. In essence, it’s a beach day. We spent time swimming and snorkeling. The ship has a snorkeling and scuba specialist that gives a great instruction on snorkeling techniques. We enjoyed this stop, and the barbecue that the ship sponsored on the beach was enjoyable too. There are tons of water activities at this location; so many you can’t possibly do them all. Our next port was Key West. This was my favorite port of the trip. Key West is a really neat and fun town. There is a lot of history here, and a lot of fun activities are available as well. I didn’t book an excursion through the ship at this port; I found them to be overpriced. Instead I went to www.historictours.com and booked my own excursions. The best bet for transportation is the Bone Island Shuttle. Kids under 12 ride free, and if you book your passage via their Internet site, you can get an all-day adult passage on this bus service for $7.20 per person. You then print out your e-ticket and present it at the Conch Train ticket center in Mallory Square to receive your all-day pass. This is a better deal than the Conch Train and Trolley which are $25.00 per person. I also booked my tickets for several museums we visited including the Ernest Hemingway House, the Pirate Soul Museum, and the Shipwreck Historeum Museum. All of this was cheaper than purchasing the Pirate Soul Museum and Shipwreck Historeum excursion from the ship. Three negatives happened in Key West that dampened our day; first it rained, no, it poured, for nearly 45 minutes. The streets flooded, and we were stuck in a store where we sought shelter which cut into our Shipwreck museum time. I had brought rain ponchos on the cruise, but I had left them on the ship. Also, the Shipwreck museum wasn’t worth the time. It would be better if it were a guided tour, but it is a self-guided tour, and there was a lot to read. Choose a different museum. One other thing…RCCL discourages renting scooters, but this looked like great fun in Key West. I wouldn’t rent a scooter in a foreign country, but everyone was using them for transportation in Key West, and they looked like great fun. The final thing that was discouraging was the lack of time in Key West. We got off the ship about 9:00 and had to be back on the ship by 1:30 and the line to get back on the boat was very long. I wish we could have spent an entire 24 hour period at Key West .. This was a great port and there just wasn’t enough time spent at this port. I hope RCCL eliminates a port of call, so more time can be spent at this port. I bet the night life in this town is awesome. Because of a delay by the U.S. Coast Guard in Key West, we were very late arriving in Cozumel, Mexico. We disembarked from the ship directly onto the Water Jet ferry and went to Playa del Carmen where we met our tour guide bus to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. These ruins are impressive; however, they are not nearly as impressive as the Chitzen Itza ruins. The Tulum Ruins are smaller, and you are barred from getting too close. The guides took wonderful care of us, but because of the late arrival to Cozumel, our time at the ruins was cut short, and we did not get to shop in Cozumel. Cozumel seemed like a great port, but because of our late arrival, we didn’t get to experience it. Our final port was Port Canaveral; we had twelve hours at this port, and we spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center. The tours here are overpriced as well. If you can get ground transportation to Kennedy, you can get the same tour as the ship excursion for $27.00 per person. We have friends that live in the Orlando area who picked us up at the port terminal, and we went directly to Kennedy. We bought the $37.00 ticket which included the Astronauts’ Hall of Fame, and it really wasn’t worth it. We should have just taken the $27.00 ticket. The tickets are good for two days, so if you can find one of those discount ticket places, you can sell your additional day on these passes to recoup some of your expenditure. Food at the Kennedy Space Center is outrageous. We ate in their table service restaurant called MILO’s, and the bill was nearly $100.00 for five people. The only negative for us was the time spent at the really great ports. I would have preferred more time at Key West and Cozumel, no time at Freeport, and less time at Port Canaveral. Activities on board were plentiful. My family enjoyed bingo, back stage tours, dance classes, games, themed party nights, the pool party, the chocolate buffet, grand buffet, and the barbecue poolside, swimming, sunbathing, reading, and sleeping. We especially loved the evening entertainment. The comics were good; the magician was terrific, and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers did great performances. Since I’m a fond lover of theatre, I’d have loved to have seen a stage play. Since the shows tend to be under an hour, they could easily put together a one-act comedy that would be a nice change of pace for the evening entertainment. We arrived back in Baltimore an hour later than anticipated. We opted to take advantage of the self-assist option to carry our own luggage off of the boat rather than have it sent to the luggage bay to be taken off by porters. This is a great option, for they let the self-assist passengers disembark before any other passengers. Unfortunately, we took luggage on the trip that was not equipped to be rolled but carried. This was a mistake! Next time we will take garment bags that are equipped with wheels, so we can roll all of our luggage off of the boat. We were off the boat by 10:00, and we were about the 300th people to disembark. We LOVED our cruise, and we would definitely cruise with RCCL again in the future. We came back from vacation relaxed, refreshed, and I finally found a vacation where I don’t need a second week of vacation in order to recover.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Grandeur was a nice ship and the food was very good-a step up from NCL and a tad below Holland America. The food was mediocre in the Windjammer- not imaginative and usually cold. If it gets hot, try to grab a lounge chair near the pool early. The second pool is in an enclosed solarium, quite beautiful but not very functional in the Caribbean. If you have second seating dinner, be prepared to finish your meal at around 10:45PM. Incidentially,

they no longer have nightly midnight buffets. They have introduced midnight delights. Sorry, I still look forward to the midnight buffets. Try to book you air packages out of Miami. If you go out of Fort Lauderdale, be prepared for a 45 minute bus ride-with your luggage. When you get off the ship, you can't ticket your luggage at the ship. For Laudersale, you must drag suitcases to a nearby bus, watch it stowed, and take your 45 minute return bus ride to the airport-PLUS- then you have to drag the suitcases to the airline counter-no curb check in. Itinerary.is relaxing, St. Thomas and San Juan are shopping and the two private islands are peaceful on ship experiences. Too many rocks in the water at Coco Cay. Labadee was a delightful island. Aside from a jellyfish bite at Coco, pleasant enough. I do not like traveling with a large amount of children, however, the size of the ship was large enough to give me my space. If you have an aversion to cigarette smoke, stay away from the casino. I boarded at 2:30PM and my luggage arrived at 9:00PM. Although I have cruised yearly for a long time, this was my first RCL cruise. Although the art work isn't nearly as nice as the HAL Veendam, The many, many pluses outweighed the few minuses. I will cruise RCL sometime in the future .

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

My family and I recently sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas. It was fantastic. The food was good the entertainment was great. We have two sons who are 13 and 14. They had the best time of all. They have a great teen program. The boys never wanted to get off the ship! If anyone plans on taking a trip on the Grandeur please feel free to contact me and I will tell you anything you need to know.

By Doug_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern. Caribbean

Embarkation We boarded the ship early - around noon. Porters and personnel outside the terminal to help make sure all documents were in order were all very friendly and found them to be very helpful. The lady that checked us in must have been having a really rough day though, or very unhappy in her job. Just acted putout that she was even there. Pleasantly surprised that the cabin change presented no problem. Everything

was in order just as we had been told it would be. Our Room 3134 was very pleasantly surprised to see room we had. There were four of us in one cabin and with the little sitting area made it very nice size to share with another couple. Our room steward Clyve and his assistant Dick were always very helpful and friendly. It was nice almost like little cleaning elves came in and picked up after we were gone. The ship is much cleaner (sanitary) than Monarch, with the exception overflowing ash trays. But still glad to see that I was not sharing the ship with roaches as before. Not a smoker friendly ship at all. Ashtrays very hard to come by in the Windjammer area, not to mention if you can find one it appeared to have never been emptied. Age limits not enforced. Often there were so many small children (range of about seven or eight years old) in the main hotubs labeled "Adults Only" using them as common swimming pools that adults could not even get in them. Also Viking Lounges was to be for "Adults Only" Always saw small children in there. Shops Very impressed by the price guarantee, Cabin-mate had purchased cigarettes on board ship then found them at a lesser price in St. Thomas. When we took the ad to the shop there was no problem the just refunded her card the difference. Young man in the jewelry store was very helpful and very pleasant and knowledgeable. Only thing is we were unaware of the fact that every time you made a purchase you had to inform them that you were crown and anchor members to receive the discount. Is there not a way to differentiate the cards somehow to receive this without having to remind them every time? Casino Once again as far as Royal Caribbean goes all we have it to compare to is Monarch. Again very pleasantly surprised. Most anytime we were in there we found it to be fairly clean and staff helpful except barmaids, they were very hard to come by. Most of the time you had to leave your machine or table for bar service. Upon your return to find your machine had been taken. Windjammer the biggest part of the food appeared to be recycled, if you enjoyed last nights dinner you were in luck, because you would have the opportunity to eat it again for lunch the next day in the Windjammer. Heard someone sum up Windjammer breakfast really well, Tasted like you were eating the "Grand Slam" at Denny's. First day lunch onboard in Windjammer, was very tasty, seemed to be recycled bacon and such from breakfast and left overs from night before. Dinner in the Windjammer was nice, it was nice to have a pleasant meal in nice atmosphere was not sure if I would care for alternate dinning but it was nice. The chef who would take the pasta or steak orders and cook them was very nice and did a wonderful job. Main Dinning Room we only ate there three times because the service was so bad. This is the first time that we have ever had service like this. We noticed it was not just our table, one evening at a nearby table, a couple had been waiting and waiting for something and finally gave up and shoved their plate's back, shook their heads, and got up and left. Based on our table experience it was probably waiting on a glass of tea. Out of the three nights we ate in there, every meal someone went without a drink even after it was ordered. To try and get a refill without having to chase down the waiter was a joke. One evening one of our table mates even had to get up and get it for himself. Also questioned when I chose to order the New York Strip is that what I really wanted?? Wouldn't I rather have something else off the main menu? I asked for New York Strip again and baked potato (I did not think this to be out of the ordinary as it was on the menu) and received the Steak and whatever potato was being served with dinner that night not the baked as asked for. Entertainment in the Palladium found the dancers and singers to be a pleasant surprise. The shows were very well presented. Entertainment Pool Side All I can say is I wish that I could work the hours these guys do. We heard more canned music than anything Entertainment in General Would like to see more of a variety to do on the ship. Also in past cruises it was announced when a new activity was about to start so you did not have to carry your daily paper with you and check it every little bit to make sure you were not missing something. Cruise Director Greg Maxwell found him to be one of the highlights of the whole cruise. Always went out of his way to speak and to be friendly (you would think he was bucking of a tip he was so nice!) Always had a smile on his face anytime you saw him in passing. Very pleasant man. Great asset to Royal Caribbean! Pool Waiters I never got the man's name, but was one of the best I have ever seen. I believe him to be Cuban, maybe in his 40's rather short and a bit stocky. Again always pleasant, friendly, smiling, and always had a cute saying to go along with that day's drink. In fact when we were at Labadee and everyone saw him coming over with the drink of the day and started to sing a bit, the whole beach applauded that he was there. Schooner Bar Waiters There were three that we dealt with over the week, a young lady (once again do not have a name) but I do know she was from Poland, and two young men from Jamaica. Both young men were also very pleasant. The one we found to most efficient was Junior Brown. He impressed us with his total attitude and the fact that he took the time to actually look at your name on the card and call you by name. Amazing things to us was that he would remember your name (out of the hundreds that he had to deal with daily)when you came in there and had such a positive and upbeat attitude all of the time. If he took that much interest in people that were not frequent guest in his lounge, I can imagine what he did for the ones who were. Very pleasant young man, once again a great asset to Royal Caribbean. Room Service Was some of the best service we received onboard. Very courteous on the phone and very prompt. (Although not much to choose from) Only question is tried to order a turkey sandwich. They called back and said out of turkey??? Funny how it was offered for lunch the next day. Food presentation for room service was wonderful. Everything arrived hot and was very tasty. In fact the dinner we ate in our room everyone agreed was some of the best food that we had onboard ship. Pursers Everyone always seemed to be very helpful was not annoyed to answer any questions you may have. Big difference from Monarch. Rainy Days.. . Boy can, and you tell they are not prepared for these! Breakfast dishes had never been cleared from Windjammer tables, there was not one coffee cup to be found nor tea glass, just plenty of left over ones from breakfast. And if you wanted to get in the hot-tub you might as well forget it because there was not one towel to be found anywhere on deck. Once again Greg Maxwell came to the rescue and tried to make light of the situation and announced they would run movies in the Palladium. Photographers All was very pleasant, just wish that there was a posting somewhere where all they were to be located other than it just generally saying that they were going to be on level five. Same with the pictures with the waiter in the ocean at Labadee. We had seen these pictures before, but I guess as we were on one of the first tenders to the island we missed the chance. The early bird did not get the worm this time! I heard a lot of people express their disappointment in this phot opportunity. Neat idea but need to advertise it more or not just stay at the first beach or wherever he was located. Or possible offer it again in Coco Cay. Shore Excursions Husband and friend traveling with us booked the scuba excursion, stated that the person that represented Royal Caribbean was rather hateful but that the Dive Master that took them on the dive was very pleasant and it was well worth the money spent. Ports of Call When we booked the cruise, we were hesitant about the private island thing. Boy we were very wrong! Labadee turned out to be one of the most beautiful places we had ever seen. Found the Beach staff was very helpful and pleasant. Only thing is $8.00 bucks to rent a floaty? My goodness that is a bit unreal. Lunch was very good. Very well prepared and nice variety. San Juan Very interesting, Rich in history. St. Thomas Great Shopping! Coco Cay Pretty much same impression as Labadee, from what we could tell it rained that day. But lunch was very good. Disembarkation: I must say this is the most organized and speediest I have ever seen. None of the everyone crammed in one room waiting for their color to be called. Nice change. Overall Impression: Very classy looking ship. Easy to find your way around after the first day or so without having to constantly look for a diagram of the ship. Food is way over rated and personnel seems to be over worked. One cook said his hours were from 4:30 a.m. til 11:30 p.m. with a 2 hour lunch(said he had been lucky that day). Possibly that is what was wrong with our main dinning service. Private Islands are wonderful, would do them again. The Market in Hati had enough of the Haitian's and native crafts to give you a taste of it without having to go on into the towns. Beautiful Island. I know that it was not just our opinions that were like this after speaking with fellow passengers. This was our second experience with Royal Caribbean. Would we travel with them again? Our answer would have to be possibly if we were to receive assurance of better service and quality. Doug

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

The ship is beautiful, the captain very personable and the dining room staff very friendly. The food was very nicely prepared and as always elegantly served. The entertainment much better than on Celebrity Lines. The singer in the atrium was a real doll. She sang a variety of music suitbale for ballroom dancing. This was great since my husband and I have spent thousands of dollars on dance lessons and never seem to get music suitable

for this sport on other cruise lines. They seem to either have disco (which is great) or very low tempo piano music not suitable for dancing. In addition to getting the people up dancing she had the ability of interacting well with the passengers. The shows are much more elaborate than on other cruise lines. You did not feel as if you were seeing the same thing night after night. We always book a room with a balcony and very often the suites. However, we booked this cruise on a rather short notice and we had to settle for a deluxe outside room with balcony. It was a surprise as it was very bright and very adequate in space. All in all, this cruise restored my faith in RC. I will certainly give them a try again in the near future. Signed Fred and Ginger

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

The first day was an at-sea day, with plenty of activities planned.  We had breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer, which serves buffet-style food and made-to-order eggs.  The food was very good and the service excellent.  My only complaint about the Windjammer comes on port days -- the service for lunch stops at 2PM, and if your excursion is late in returning you have to wolf down your food or settle for hot dogs and pizza from

the Solarium.  This was the first formal night and our first meeting of our dinner table for the week.  We had a fun group and an excellent waitress from Turkey with a name too long to remember.  The food all week was top-notch, but I was disturbed to learn, on our LAST night, that pop at dinner was free (Carnival charged for pop at dinner), leaving me with lemonade all week.  The entertainment was a comedian whose name slips at the moment, but he was the guy who got mugged on the last episode of Seinfeld -- very, very funny guy. DAY TWO The first port call is made at Aruba, lasting until 1AM, giving a huge block of time to move around the island.  We took the four-wheel drive adventure, which was a blast, but I would not recommend it for those with weak stomachs, fear of steep hills or a bad back -- it got kind of hairy at times but afforded a great guided tour of Aruba's desert, which tends to resemle the surface of Mars!  The rest of the day was spent wandering around.  I was sort of disappointed in the shopping -- prices were pretty expensive, but there are plenty of places to blow your cash that are within walking distance of the ship.  The people are very friendly and we were not approached at all by vendors, beggars, etc.  We got in a little swimming, but it did rain a few times.  It was kind of surreal to be down there at XMAS-time...at one point I was standing in an outdoor shopping mall during a torrential downpour looking at the palm trees while what sounded like Zamphir, master of the pan flute, played XMAS tunes over the PA system. DAY THREE Curacao was our next stop.  We took the canoe adventure, which requires paddling over open ocean to a couple of beaches.  The water was calm and you could see 30 feet to the bottom.  Only one tip-over in our group, so all went well.  This was also a great way to see the countryside, and a tour guide was on the bus to point out attractions/sites along the way.  The port area is nice, with plenty of vendors set up in little stands selling their wares.  It was very hot and my wife was tired, so we didn't do much shopping. DAY FOUR This was another at-sea day and anther formal night.  Once again, plenty of activities on the ship to fill the time.  We did have our first disappointment of the cruise here, however.  The seas were very rough (20 foot swells), but the ship was heading directly into them, so there was not much noticable movement.  The weather, however, did cancel our port call at Saint Martin, due to the fact that the ship must tender passengers.  The cruise director told us that the week before it took until 2PM to get the MORNING people to the shore, so the Captain played it safe and directed us to St. Croix instead.  I did not hear much grumbling, but people I have talked to back home that have been there said that St. Martin was their favorite stop.  St. Croix was OK, but nothing much to write home about.  We spent the day on a beach in Christiansted, which is about a 1/2 hour away from Fredricksted, where the ship docked. DAY FIVE (combined 3-4 above) St. Thomas was our final port call...excellent shopping opportunities here (we bought a camcorder) and a very nice place to visit for history buffs.  Having been sunburned the day before, we took it easy and took the basic bus tour of the island.  We could not make it to St. John (one hour ferry ride each way), but heard that it was beautiful.  This is the only stop where we noticed high-pressure salesmen trying to get us to visit time-shares or eat at their restaurants, etc.  If you need a break, the Crown & Anchor Club is beautiful, and pointed us to a restaurant named Cuzzins where we had a great lunch.  Hopefully this provided a nice overview of the cruise.  We plan to take it again to catch all that we missed the first time around.  It did rain each day, but did not interfere with out plans in the least.  There were a few negatives, but not many -- the announcements were nowhere near as annoying as on Carnival, but each announcement was repeated in Spanish due to the large Puerto Rican contingent on board (the ship had offered a cut-rate deal with kids free due to underbooking), which tended to make them sound long-winded.  Also, there were many unsupervised children in the Solarium pool, including in the adults-only hot tubs.  Parents, please do not use the pools as babysitters -- I had to get someone to calm the kids down so that we could enjoy the pool area without being struck by the objects that the kids were throwing around.  Also, there were groups of people who sat in the hot tub areas for HOURS, thus denying others the opportunity to do so. As usual, plenty of people saving deck chairs with towels, but this cruise had a much more mature crowd than what we had experienced on the prior cruise.  It was VERY windy throughout the cruise, but there is no way to avoid this...just hold onto your hat on deck 10! The casino was a little tight, but I managed to win some money here and there.  My wife used the salon and was satisfied with her massage, although she did blow a bundle on products afterwards.  The enterainment staff was first-rate in the lounge, and the "Novel QUest" game show cannot be missed.  Get there early so you can be on a team -- we missed out!  We will surely sail RCCL again, and will probably take the same cruise again.  Enjoy your vacation!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Mediterranean

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS Eastern Mediterranean Cruise June 30 - July 7, 2001 By Vincent & Mary Finelli This was our first Eastern Mediterranean Cruise, having done the Western Itinerary in 1999 (two weeks from Amsterdam, Holland to Genoa, Italy and seven ports in between). This itinerary was probably the most "port intensive" of all of our cruises (five ports in seven days!). You have it from us, sailing

throughout the Greek Isles can be both delightful and dramatic. The trip included a close up of Stromboli, the active Italian volcano that juts straight up out of the Tyrrhenean Sea and sports fumaroles and red lava flows at the top with tiny villages at the base: How can people live so calmly on a rumbling volcano? Passing through the Strait of Messina, brought to mind the Odyssey of Ulysses and his adventure in this tempestuous sea, with the threatening monsters Shylla and Charybdis, facing each other across this strait. But, for us, the sea was calm and the view of Calabria and Sicily marvelous. Nevertheless, with a little imagination just sailing through this historical sea is impressive. The next most significant memory is sailing through the caldera of Santorini, which demarcates the original boundaries of this remnant of an island (What was once a near perfect circle of an island is now a mere crescent). We were lucky that our cruise week coincided with a full moon on the Aegean Sea. What a sight: just spectacular! If you haven't done this itinerary yet, book it now, because it is all you could possibly dream it would be. Since the Grandeur is the sister ship of the Vision, which we described in our last review (June 6, 01), we will skip the ship descriptions and specifications which are almost identical, rather, here we'll focus on service and itinerary. EMBARKATION June 20th we flew Alitalia Airline from Miami-Milan-Rome; unfortunately the plane change in Milan was a difficult one, which made us long for the direct Miami-Rome flights of old! We did not use the cruise package, but instead we rented a car (Avis), which we picked up at the airport and spent ten days in the Samnium Mountains (South Central Italy) before returning the car just a few blocks from the pier at Civitavecchia, the morning of embarkation. Since the Grandeur was berthed directly behind the new terminal, embarkation was easy. A crew member was prompt in taking Vincent's wheelchair aboard where the documents were processed within minutes. The new RCI ticket packet is simplified and handy. We met Hotel Director Tony O'Prey at check-in. He makes passengers feel at home immediately and continues to do so until debarkation. What a courteous person he is - Thank you, Tony for all your kindnesses! We were in our spacious stateroom in less than ten minutes (approximately noon). We went straight to the Welcome Aboard Buffet, where a crew member carried our trays and assisted us through. The food was good and the dessert table excellent. We were happy to return to the Grandeur after four years and were full of anticipation for this exciting trip. THE SHIP The Grandeur of the Seas was built at Kvaerner Masa Shipyards, Finland and launched on Nov. 2, 1996, as the dedication placard in the Viking Crown Lounge reads. It looks just like the Vision of the Seas: it's white with aqua/green glass on the top decks, characteristic of all RCI ships, and has the sleek shape of an oversized yacht. The major difference between this and other RCI Vision class ships is in the interior decor and artworks. RCI has made extensive use of wood and other fine appointments on the Grandeur which makes it worthy of its name. The two deck high Gatsby Dining Room is a good place to start: The 20's era flapper statue in the middle of the grand staircase evokes images of Zelda Fitzgerald with its swaying fringed outfit. The far wall has a two deck high water fall and the other three walls are hung with paintings depicting "Roaring Twenties" party life. This dining room has the most comfortable chairs, with arms rests and lumbar support. The Centrum is both a handy reference point and a place that is in constant movement with dancing, singing and even cooking demonstrations. The ship's decor is pleasant and subdued, with unique pieces of art almost everywhere. The style is consistent throughout the ship, with more traditional artwork (no abstract or futuristic motifs), indeed appropriate for this itinerary. There are several pieces of sculpture that merit mentioning: * Deck 5 has four huge translucent white marble Urns, lit from within, with swans and birds incised on them flanking the entrances of the Palladium Theater, which has crystals hanging along the front of the stage and on the ceiling. * Deck 6 by the Centrum has a resin bronze boy with cap, camera and tour book by Clinch entitled "Where the Heck?" * Deck 7 in the library has a larger than life bronze man on a chair with cigar in hand and newspaper over his face called "Snoozin" also by Clinch, appropriately positioned on the side of one table. We were pleasantly surprised when we discovered it. * In the Viking Crown Lounge are a series of life size Steel Vikings statues by Walenty Pytel and a Viking Ship by T. E. Skelinen. Other artwork worth mentioning are the large murals in the stairways representing Spanish scenes of matadors and senoritas, and a collage with a ballroom scene near the theater. CABIN We were in Superior Ocean View Stateroom #7102 port side, wheelchair accessible. It was furnished with a queen size bed; a sitting area with sofa bed, upholstered chair and a large coffee table; mirrored vanity/desk area, a huge bathroom with additional railings and a 4'x4' shower. This cabin has tons of storage in closets and drawers, more than adequate for four people on a two week cruise. The far wall is glassed with a sliding door to the verandah with two chaises, two chairs and a table. The color scheme was similar to the Vision, with muted tones of gray, blue, lavender and pink. The Grandeur is scheduled for dry dock this fall and in several areas refurbishing is needed - upholstery etc. But, all in all, she is a beautiful ship. FOOD Food is available round the clock - The Windjammer and the Gatsby Dining Room have fixed schedules and the Solarium has pizza (not very good) but they serve excellent hot dogs, burgers and fries which are available most of the day and evening (the European cruisers all wanted to make sure that the beef was U.S.; they are still living with mad cow fear). Snacks are served in all of the bars, lounges and the Casino from 11:30 pm to 12:30 am and the bars are open from 9:00 am to 2:00 am the next morning. Room service is 24 hrs. per day. Usually we ate breakfast in our cabin and it was punctual, hot and abundant (omelets were fine, bacon crisp, coffee hot and rolls and croissants fresh). Unfortunately, we did not personally meet the Executive Chef, Martin Grabenhofer (Austria), but read of his extensive culinary background. RCI has the best meats afloat, we also had succulent salmon and the salads were innovative (Boston Mimosa, Waldorf and especially Ensalada del Chef with orange segments and mixed greens). At lunch we had the Philadelphia Cheese Steak and the Tuna Melt Sub served on great, crispy French bread. The International menus were nicely varied but we particularly liked some Greek fare: Santorini fruit salad with Ouzo, Spanakopita (spinach and feta cheese pie) Beef Souvlaki skewers, Mousaka and Yiaourtini (yogurt cake with orange liquor). There were terrific ices, sherbets and ice creams; memorable chocolate cakes and delicious cookies. However, even though the Chef had trained in Venice, the pastas were not up to those we had enjoyed for the past ten days while in Italy, prior to embarkation. We are finding it harder and harder to order pastas on board RCI ships, since al dente is rarely achieved and the sauces just don't taste Italian. Even a simple dish like spaghetti Carbonara was ruined by adding a cream sauce, that's a no-no! The spaghetti were neither Carbonara nor Alfredo, but somewhere in between. However, we have to admit most non Italians didn't notice a difference. The gala meals are always the best and this cruise was no exception: We dined with Staff Captain George Paraskevopoulos (born in Australia of Greek parents and a graduate of the Mercantile Academy of Greece). He was delightfully candid about life at sea and hosted a dinner with escargots, soupe à l'oignon, Caesar salad, Surf and Turf (lobster tail and filet mignon), blackened salmon and velvet chocolate cake. He toasted his guests with water to emphasize SAFETY at sea, but ordered fine wines for the rest of the table (more later). Great food, gracious company, and all under the watchful eye of Maitre d’ Massimo (see service). SERVICE The tone and ambiance is set by the Captain and his crew follows his lead: Captain Carlos Pedercini (Argentina) is RCI's youngest captain, receiving his Master's license at age 28 and at 36 he is a serious Master of the Grandeur; he wears his honors well. Staff Captain George emphasized the strict protocol and attention paid to safety by RCI with its Tricolor Alert System (Red, Yellow and Green) requiring specific staff duties at all times. Sleep easy cruisers, the Bridge is in capable, cautious hands! Tony O'Prey, Hotel Director, is an affable capable man with one mission: He makes sure everything is done with flair and that the passengers are pleased. We were happy to see that there is a Chief Purser aboard, Julie Hansen was caring and totally efficient and responsive to cruiser's concerns which she followed up personally. Fortunately RCI has not attempted to run other ships as it did the Radiance of the Seas, where an experiment assigning ship hotel management to independent administrators, breaking the chain of command from the Captain on down. Initially this experiment resulted in failure. We have not followed the situation on the Radiance, but we feel that common sense will prevail at the top of RCI management and the tried-and-true system with the Captain, as the sole master of the ship, with the well established chain of officers and crew, will remain as the one and only valid system in the whole fleet. In the Gatsby Dining Room we found the service outstanding under the direction of Maitre d' Massimo Barbiero (Italy). We could trust his honest assessment of the menu and were happy with his specific suggestions: Fine food, fine service, and a delightful atmosphere (in part due to the trio of musicians who played there nightly). We had a table for two at the top of the Grand Staircase overlooking the Salon and the Captain's table. Our Waiter Ajini Khalil (Tunisia) was attentive, but not hovering, just perfect. Asst. Waiter Rodrigo Estay (Chile) was smiling and friendly and Head Waiter Jayaraman Iyer (India/France) was also a knowledgeable sommelier. Lunch in the dining room was always interesting with Waiter Vincenzo Caraglia (Italy); he sought out Vincent to discuss Italian soccer, Formula 1 Auto Racing, etc. - friendly and prompt service. We felt right at home on our second cruise aboard the Grandeur. The Repeaters Captain's Cocktail had an excellent Canapé Buffet, free drinks and friendly faces. We met many nice cruisers and staff. Social Hostess Chez van Straaten (S. Africa) was both bright and gracious. Her parents were on board for a 28th wedding anniversary and a second honeymoon to revisit Athens. We know where Chez got her charm. ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Kyle Dodson (Texas, USA) heads up an active group which runs everything from daily Bingo to dance lessons and games. This cruise had several evening shows worth mentioning: Los Pampas Gauchos gave a literally hair raising routine (you've got to see it to believe it!). Judy Kolba gave a combination Singing/Comedy routine that we heard was hilarious (sorry, we did not catch her). Day Three's RCI production of "Starstruck" with its tribute to the silver screen and dazzling combination of live performance and film projection, with the RCI dancers deftly jumping in and out of the giant screen was breathtaking. The dancers' timing was perfect to achieve this wonderful special effect. Dominic Allen was the ultimate entertainer with both his vocal and instrumental expertise. The audience loved him. The Celeste Trio had a wonderful female vocalist accompanied by her husband Marcangelo and percussionist Mr. Leyette. They were everywhere from the lounges to the Centrum and had a very demanding repertoire and great reception. Last, but not least, Naki Ataman (Turkey) performed his special U.N. Tribute to 24 Countries (Theme "Around the World in 80 Days"). The audience honored his piano virtuosity with a well deserved standing ovation. As usual, RCI's Entertainment is worth seeing and hearing. PORTS OF CALL The main reason for this cruise was the itinerary and we are happy to say that our expectations were met, but the less than one day taste of Athens left us longing for more. Next time . . . and there will be a next time (God willing!), we will approach this cruise differently. We'll fly first to Athens for a three day stay and take a cruise back to Venice, Italy. Sounds good to us. We are now at a point in our lives that whenever we check off a vacation destination, we must add another one in order to keep that list going. Civitavecchia, Italy: This is an engaging home port for Italy, where ferries to Sardinia (a trendy vacation spot) leave daily. We took a ride up into the mountains as far as the beginning of the Tuscan Hills. If you are interested in Etruscan Necropoles and Museums visit nearby Cerveteri and Tarquinia; Civitavecchia is a an excellent starting point. Of course Rome is a short one hour bus trip. Definitely extend your cruise vacation either before or after or you will regret it. Katakolon, Greece: Greece comprises over 1400 isles of which only 169 are inhabited. This small town on the western coast of the Peloponnese (Greece's largest peninsula) has as its main attraction the famous archeological site of Ancient Olympia, where the Pisans first held their Olympic Games about 1,000 B.C. The contests reached their heights in 6th century B.C., but were banned in 394 A.D. The modern revival was in 1896 and Greeks are enthusiastically building and planning to host the games in 2004 in Athens. Ioanna, the tour guide through Olympia was knowledgeable, humorous and made history come to life. The Doric architecture was massive in the Palaestra (wrestling school), the Prytaneum (where winners were honored) and the Temple of Zeus (not one of its original 25 columns still standing, this was the site of the gold and ivory statue of Zeus listed as one of the seven ancient wonders of the world). The Temple of Hera (which is better preserved) once held the statue of Hermes by Praxiteles (circa 350 B.C.) which is now across the road at the Olympia Archeological Museum.. The first olympic stadium which set the distance for races and gave its name to all stadiums to follow was truly awesome. The start and finish lines still exist and are white marble and its sloping grassy sides held 30,000 spectators. The ruins of Olympia reveal a well organized sports center of gigantic proportions in ancient Greece. We gamely started out to tour these ruins, but soon realized it was hard with a wheelchair on unpaved ground. Sean, a fellow cruiser courteously took over and pushed Vincent through the entire site - An Olympian Effort! Efcharisto`(Thank you). This tour (excursion KKA1 on the ship's list) is a must. Although the ship's 11:00 am arrival makes this tour in the summer uncomfortable from the heat of a high noon sun and we barely made it back to the last tender at 5:30 pm, it was an afternoon to remember. After this visit, we will never view the modern Olympics again in the same old way: The spirit of the old Olympians is with us. Santorini, Greece: Aaah! This is the Greek Isles of postcards and travel guides. White washed buildings on cliffs with blue cupolas. This volcanic island erupted in 1450 B.C. and there remains only a crescent shape with the island of Nea Kameni in the center of the caldera. Very impressive and evocative of Geology 101. Sailing through a caldera! The ship anchors off Skala and the blue/white town of Fira` can be accessed by climbing the over 600 steps of the Serpentine Path (we don't think so), riding a stubborn donkey (no way) or our choice "the cable car." Firà was destroyed by an earthquake 1956 and rebuilt maintaining its former charm of houses built into the mountainside. The narrow streets are uneven cobblestone and no cars. We visited the Archeological Museum, but the tour of the day was Ancient Akrotiri and Santorini (excursion SOA1) which we did not take due to the wheelchair. Akrotiri is famous for its wall paintings (not frescoes since they are painted on dry walls) but fortunately for us the best of these we saw in Athens at the National Museum, including "The Fleet", "Boxing Children", "The Fisherman" and "The Spring Fresco" (misnomer). Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: Here we were steered wrongly by the ship's Shore Excursion desk. Because of Vincent's wheelchair we were told to catch a cab - to the tune of $100. The driver knew little English, and refused to leave us at the top of Ephesus and pick us up in the bottom, as promised. We suggest cruisers, even those with wheelchairs, take the ship excursion KDC1: Ephesus Ruins and house of the Virgin Mary. We found out later that a lady in a wheelchair had no problem with this tour and loved it. Next time we'll know better. Piraeus (Athens), Greece: Athens is seven miles from the Port of Piraeus. Best tour here is the ship's PRA1 the Acropolis and Athens sightseeing. We opted for PRB1 the National Museum and sightseeing which meant viewing the shopping district. Next time we would like to see more of Athens which may mean staying over either at the beginning or ending of our cruise. Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy: Rome was the final city on this itinerary and this is such a monumental city that it requires an extended stay. It's our favorite city since Vincent is a graduate of University of Rome and knows it well. Fond memories of our family stay there for a year in 1980 - '81, during Vincent's sabbatical appointment at the Catholic University, give it a special place in our hearts. We do Rome by ourselves, but we suggest that cruisers use the ship's excursions since the "Eternal City" is one newcomers may need a guide to tour. DEBARKATION Debarkation as usual was simple, Vincent's wheelchair was escorted all the way to the luggage area and out of the terminal. It was the end of a Grand cruising experience. SUGGESTIONS It is very hard to improve on a great cruise, but we are making the following suggestions in an attempt to make a great cruise greater: 1. If the itinerary could be arranged so that the arrival times for Katakolon and Santorini would be early morning as were the times for the other ports, cruisers would not be starting out on excursions at high noon, the hottest part of the day. Some of the ruins are unbearably hot at that time. At present, arrival at these two ports is 11:00 am. In our opinion they should be changed if possible to 8:00 am. 2. Once again RCI should hire a chef with expertise in Italian cuisine who would improve the sauces and pasta dishes thus attracting more lovers of true Italian cooking. Happy Cruising!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, CocoCay

This was our second cruise. Our first was on the Big Red Boat with our children. While we had fun on the Big Red Boat, cruising without children was a whole different experience. Everyone should take a cruise once in their life. There is nothing else like it. The Grandeur of the Sea is an elegant ship. We had a room with a balcony, which was definitely worth the extra money. The ship is so huge, we never did completely get

to know our way around. The staff were always courteous and helpful. We had most of our meals in the Great Gatsby dining room. For those who like more casual dining, there was always a buffet in the Windjammer Cafe, or hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza in the Solarium Cafe. We had late seating for dinner, which was at 8:30...a little too late, as we never finished until 10:30 or later. But the dinners were fantastic, an experience in themselves. The Waiters and assistant waiters worked very hard to make them that way (including entertaining us several times). We never missed the evening shows. Some were great, like the Wave Review singers and dancers. The evening with the Osmond Brothers was superb. And the comedy & juggling act of Wilde and Haines was so hilarious, we had tears in our eyes. The other shows were so-so. There were theme nights in the South Pacific lounge. From country western to 50's sock hop the band in this lounge could play anything. I enjoyed going to the South Pacific lounge. Unfortunately the dance floor was always very crowded. Onboard the ship, there were so many things to do, my only complaint is that you couldn't do them all. I especially enjoyed the dancing lessons, the cooking demonstration, and the belly flop contest. For those who like to be active, there were many exercise activities for which you earned "ship shape dollars". These dollars could be exchanged for merchandise (such as t-shirts and tote bags) at the end of the cruise. The ports were fun and varied. Labadee, Haiti was a beautiful beach. I recommend snorkeling as the coral reef we were taken to is large and there is lots to see. Beginners are given instructions, old pros can go off right away. If you wear glasses, be sure to ask for a prescription mask so you can see better. Take some money if you go on the island to buy hand made items from the Haitians. I didn't and missed out on these unique items. San Juan was not my favorite port. While interesting historically, it is still a big city. The streets are narrow and crowded and I was overwhelmed by the number of shops. We took the old and new San Juan bus tour, but I think we would have liked the walking tour of Old San Juan better. St. Thomas was my favorite port. This island has it all: Picturesque views, gorgeous beaches, and wonderful shopping. If you want to shop for gold and jewelry do it in St. Thomas. CocoCay was a fun beach day. Again I recommend snorkeling. This time we saw thousands of fish and several stingrays. They have sunk an old boat and airplane and the fish congregate around them. My only complaint here is that the beach where you snorkel was very crowded. There were less crowded beaches if you walked down aways, but nothing to see if you snorkeled. There are photographers on the boat, but I never liked the photos enough to purchase them. There also were video cameras on board and on the islands and at the end of the cruise you could purchase the week in review. Overall, I would have to rate this cruise as excellent. If I ever cruise again, I would definitely choose Royal Caribbean.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Labadee, Haiti- Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Co-Co Cay Bahamas

This was our 4th and so far most favorite Cruise. I am the Associate Pastor at a Baptist Church in Georgia. This was the most family type Cruise we have ever taken and we have been on the Big Red Boat. I admire and highly recommend the staff of the Grandeur of the Sea. The Ship- Beautiful. I am a Cruise fanatic so I like to compare ships. We have been on the Imagination, the Norway, the SS/Atlantic and now the Grandeur. Every ship

is different. While the Norway was most elegant, this ship was a contemporary elegant. While the Imagination was eye gazing, this ship provided a very similar layout scheme, with the Centrum Plaza. Quite frankly we did not think there could be a prettier ship than the Imagination, but the Grandeur topped it! My at the room. The common mistake people make is to assume that you must be around things you do not want to be around, that is just not the case. Especially with the Grandeur. This is a huge ship. There is so many places to go on the ship that if you just wanted to sit there and stare at your family you could. But there is so much more to do than that. If you have always went on small ships due to the scare that a big ship is just too crowded, you need to try this Grandeur. Seeing is believing. Entertainment- This is where I was most impressed. Quite frankly I am no fuddy-dud but I have 3 girls. Ages 11,7, and now 10 months (that is right we took an infant on a ship, and it worked out great). Don't let that hold you back. None-the-less, I totally respect everyone on the Royal Caribbean staff and especially the Captain and the Cruise Director which are responsible for what is seen and heard on a ship. We went on The Carnival Imagination and it seemed that the Staff used slangs and cursing very often. I know that more adults than kids frequent ships but there is a time and place for everything. Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Sea has this handled. The Cruise director made sure that everyone, the customers, the entertainers, and his staff know that this was a family cruise and that only the late night stuff would contain that type of material. This was so refreshing. No one was offended and everyone, believe me, everyone was entertained well. The Cruise director was heads above any we ever had. He was very humorous and a hit at his introduction to everything. There was a great mixture of acts and shows by the Grandeur staff entertainers. Jugglers, comedians, singing, dancing, and of course the two shows, The beat goes on and Star Struck. Don't miss showtime one night or you will be sorely disappointed. The ship itself has a host of very good entertainers. They had one trio singing in the centrum plaza every night that was interactive and variative in songs. Everyone loved them and they were nice to see while waiting for whatever was next to do. Again and I support another commenter, do not miss the Newlywed Game, it was drop down hilarious. This is a five star entertainment ship. Dining Room- Outstanding. I find it hard to believe that any ship has bad food, or service, but the Grandeur was great. Second only to the Norway. The waiter and bus boy were quite entertaining and interactive as well. What I found most intriguing about this dining experience was that the Head waiter really did help. This was a change. You saw these men working hard and did a great job. There is another deck up top on the ship called the Windjammer. Don't get let down at it's dirtiness when you first get on board as that is where you are sent to eat. When I say dirty I just mean the seat covers. The could be cleaner. However, by the end of the week you will find that they are fine and that what else should you expect considering that the pool users use this place all the time. Dine in the dining room when possible though, except lunch, so that you will not miss out on the great service your dining room staff provides. Embarking and Disembarking- Not bad, but not as good as I was led to believe either. Deal with it, your are beginning or ending a fabulous trip, so chill and you'll be fine. Ports- As I write this Hurricane George just went over Haiti and San Juan. I hope everything is all right. We have went to many a place but Labadee Haiti is the prettiest and most peaceful place I have ever been. For those who warn you and say that the Haitians are the most haggling people to ever shop with, they have obviously never went to Jamaica. That shopping is bad. This is your typical 'hut' shopping and a few good deals can be found. It will not take you but a minute and if you find anything you like, get it here, you'll find none any cheaper anywhere else you are going. I suggest just laying on a float in Labadee. It is romantic and gorgeous. It is far prettier , nicer, and more breathtaking than CoCo Cay. San Juan- Very neat. Americanized, yet holds it's own traditions. Do not pay for the ships excursion tour here or in San Juan. In both places I highly recommend a tour, in fact you'll be disappointed not doing one, but get off the ship and let the locals take you. You can negotiate a deal and trust me on all 4 Cruises we have been on, you'll save much $$$ than doing it on the ship. I know it is not popular to do that, and yes you go at your own risk, but the savings are great and you can thus do more (and spend more on stuff!). I think this is good and key advice. We had a great tour guide at both places and we seen enough and still had time for shopping. St. Thomas- I got to go against the grain on this and say that I think San Juan has better shopping. However the view from the top of Paradise Point in St. Thomas is the most breathtaking view you will ever see in your life. Bring lots of film and definitely go here! CoCoCay was o.k.- hard to beat Labadee. I found the island beautiful but not close to as nice as Labadee. The water is rough, shallow (no matter which beach you walk to) and there are jellyfish everywhere. They don't tell you that on the ship. The snorkeling was overated as you swim much to see little. While at the same time, dodging jellyfish the whole way. I must admit that I found the pricing overpriced to do it as well. Royal Caribbean does give you great instruction but after that you are on your own. I like the freedom, but the instruction does not cover the price. If snorkeling is your bag go to Cozumel- it does not get any better. But overall, this was the best itinerary we have ever been on. Last Thing- Tenders- I hate think it is foolish to not take the first tender tickets and get to the private islands first. It is your only hope to get hammocks and the best spot on the beaches. Oh yeah, print out some of these commentaries on this fine review site. They are extremely helpful and I guarantee it will remind you of something. One thing that I read which was absolutely correct, was go to the 2nd or 3rd beach at Labadee. Don't cheat yourself. A little extra walking but spectacularly secluded spots. Go to Nellie's Beach. It is the 2nd and best beach. I checked them all out. Cruising is the best vacation in the world and this ship, it's staff, and the wonderful itineraries make it even that much greater. Have a blast. P.S. Smile, there are plenty of pictures to be taken, by an unfortunately not so friendly staff, but though the price is high (Carnival has better deals), the quality is outstanding. Have a great Cruise!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Overall, this was one our best cruises ever. Everything went so smoothly. We always book the cruise with airfare and transfers. For the four hour flight to San Juan we were upgraded to first class, (which was wonderful), and we originally booked a standard outside cabin, and was upgraded to a large outside cabin with a balcony, a refrigerator, and most importantly a bathtub!! As with any RCCL cruise we've taken, (this was our 6th), the service,

the food, the room service, etc. was outstanding. The weather at this time of year was extremely warm, but being from Wisconsin, it was inviting. In Aruba and Curacao we took the island tours, as we like to learn about the culture of these islands. We have been to St. Thomas, (four times), and St. Martin, (once), and enjoy these islands the most. If anyone goes to St. Thomas, it is a must to go on the Paradise Tram Ride. What a spectacular view of the port and surrounding islands!! You always hear horror stories about embarking and disembarking the ship, well this was our 6th cruise and we've never, ever had any problems yet! Any questions, please e-mail me. Happy Cruising!

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

n/a

David Ellard's 50th Birthday Trip February 2nd to March 9th, 1998 (35 days) Saturday, February 21, 1998 Dan and Leslie went to the airport and we went to board GRANDEUR of the Seas. Sure had strange dreams last night. Must have been from the spices in the food. Our cabin is on deck 8 and is nice. The ship is much cleaner and newer than the last one. Our luggage arrived early and unpacked. After dinner, played slots and

won this time. Noticing still too many young kids and babies. They should have been left at home instead of such a stress on the parents. Each ship is run a little different from the other ones. Sunday, February 22, 1998 Let Pam sleep in. Went up to the pool deck before sunrise to get coffee. At sea all day enroute to Labadee, Haiti. Laid out in the sun with Pam at the pool to work on my tan. Did my 10 laps around the bridge deck. Received an invitation to dine with the Captain tomorrow. Someone on the last ship had notified this ship that we were coming onboard and to treat us special. Nice for them to do so. A funny thing happened. A woman was adjusting the top of her bikini top and the wind blew it overboard. Did some shopping in the shops onboard. During lunch at the Solarium Cafe, the wind blew Pam's hotdog off of her plate and spilled red wine on her top. Seas are getting bigger. Played slots and lost my $20 quickly. A bouncy night due to the waves causing the ship to have motion. This cabin has more outside noise than we have had in others. Monday, February 23, 1998 Arrived at Labadee, Haiti, RCCL's private island. Hot and no wind. We set our clocks ahead 1 hour. Finished another book. Laid in the sun at the pool and then did my 10 laps. Trying to do this every day. Did not go ashore because we did not have enough time to get ready for dinner tonight. Met Jim and Millie who have done 79 cruises with RCCL and seem to know everyone onboard. Both of them seem familiar, probably from onboard another ship with us. Had dinner with the Captain. He seemed to be enjoying us more than the others at the table. Pam had too much variety of adult beverages. Went to bed at 7:30 pm. Think I am putting on weight or the waist size of my pants has shrunk. Sent my tux out for cleaning after getting back to the cabin. Was told that RCCL has 10 new ships arriving in the next 3 years and then will have 26 ships all over the world. Souvenirs of the trip are starting to get heavy and taking up to much space. Tuesday, February 24, 1998 Arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a hot and humid morning with little wind. Got off of the ship and went to a jewelry shop in downtown Old San Juan to get Pam's bracelet latch fixed. Called the ship's Head Pursor for advice on what shop to go to before leaving the ship. We had to leave the diamond bracelet and they said they would deliver it back to the ship later in the day. Had to trust them. It arrived on the ship late in the day and was fixed correctly. Met Jim and Millie at the pool (the ones who have done 79 cruises) and had a nice talk with them. Very interesting people. They are staying onboard for another week. While laying in the sun at the pool, the Captain came by and sat down next to me. Had a nice conversation that included his amazement of us doing so many back-to-back cruises. Did my 10 laps. Went up to the Viking Lounge. We used to go up here every day just before dinner in the past but for some reason, not enough time. We will be going to St. Thomas, so we got post cards to mail and made a list of things we want to do there. St. Thomas is only 74 miles from San Juan. Got a box of special labeled ship's wine to take home. Finished another book and started another one. Got my tux back from cleaning and pressing. Met some more passengers and exchanged experiences. Having to take several showers a day. Wednesday, February 25, 1998 Arrived in St. Thomas to a beautiful and sunny morning. Took a cab to the downtown area to walk around and mail our post cards. Traffic was terrible due to the thousands of other passengers from the other 4 cruise ships here. It was hot and muggy with no wind. We went back to the ship to cool off. Trying to cut down on eating and taking less portions. Think I have read 7 or 8 books so far. Went to the pool area to read and people watch. Met the Captain again when at the pool and we sat together. It was too hot outside for Pam and she stayed in the cabin. Signed up for snorkeling at our next port of call, Cococay, Bahamas. Played slots and took back to our cabin $183 in winnings. Pam watching the Music Awards. Damn strange people that won awards. Thursday, February 26, 1998 For some reason, was up many times during the night maybe due to the heavy seas on the bow causing the ship to move a lot. Had a solar eclipse today. During most of the day had seas on the bow raising it up and down about 30 feet. Did my laps in the early afternoon. Somewhere, I lost my Supercharge Card and had to get a replacement. The ship has been doing 22 knots all day. Played slots in the afternoon and won. Lost all of my winnings after dinner. Tonight is a formal night. Took photos of the ship. Did not drink enough water today and got dehydrated. Met a couple from England. Gave them info on our past cruising experiences. Met Jim and Millie and had nice talk. Some people are very seasick. Hoping the water is clear and warm for snorkeling tomorrow and better than the last time we were here. Friday, February 27, 1998 Arrived at Cococay, Bahamas. Set clocks back 1 hour this morning. The seas were much calmer last night, so I slept much better. Finished reading a book. Took the tender to shore and went snorkeling. The water was much clearer and warmer this time. Did my laps and sat in the sun later. Filled out the US Customs form for tomorrow's return to Miami. Started packing our luggage to put outside the cabin door tonight. Have been curtailing eating as much. Will have 2 bags of gift bottles of wine to take off the ship. The weather forecast is good. Played slots again and broke even. A very beautiful night without much wind. Saturday, February 28, 1998 Arrived back in Miami at 6:00 am. The ship wants everyone to leave their cabin as early as possible so they can get the cabins ready for the next group of passengers. Slept very good last night and woke up refreshed. Watched people while waiting to get off of the ship. Many look exhausted from staying up so late last night. With so many people congregated in the lounges and open areas, it was noisy. Got off of the ship and went to the taxi area. Had several taxis turn us down to take us to downtown Miami. They wanted the higher fee to go to the airport. Finally got the terminal Security Police to assist us in getting a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel. Called Ryan twice. He thinks he has the flu. On a whim, called about a 61 Tollycraft I had seen at the Boat Show for sale. It was in very poor condition, but might be able to be bought cheap. The broker was a jerk thinking someone would pay 3 times what it was really worth. Both of us tired and took a 2-hour nap. Saw Joey at the pool bar restaurant. Watched Grandeur of the Seas leave port with a new group of passengers from our room window. Filled out the cruise form documents and tags for our next cruise. Hope my sneezing is just an allergy problem and not a cold or the flu.

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

All cruises depend on the passengers aboard. This was one of the friendliest cruises we've been on, so far. From the time we left the airport in Flint, Michigan, during the hotel the night before, and our transfers and while on the ship we made new friends along the way. We have only cruised with Princess in the past, but would not hesitate to do Royal Caribbean again - even if we did not get chocolates on our pillows. The four of us had first

seating seating in the Great Gatsby dining room at a large window table with 7 new tablemates who soon became our friends. The wait staff quickly learned our preferences and was quick to please. All the meals our waiter recommended were outstanding and dining was a pleasurable experience with our new dining companions. The Windjammer Buffet was okay with limited choices for breakfast and lunch compared to the Princess Cruise line. We did take advantage of and enjoyed the free room service breakfasts we ordered for port days. It came “on time” and hot. Staff would call just before they brought it and someone would call a little later to see if we were satisfied. The 4 of us stayed it 2 cabins next to each other, category D1 on the 7th floor. Both were balconies about the middle of the ship. We compared it to the mini suite we had before on a different cruise line. Very roomy with lots of storage, some of which we never used. We did ask for and got an egg crate for the mattress. On the downside: The bed was lower than we are use to, and could not store our suitcases under it. The bathroom was roomy for a cruise ship, shower had good pressure with plenty of hot water, but the toilet quit working twice on the 7th floor in the 5 days we were on the ship. They were timely in the repair but it was an inconvenience. The balcony was nice for 2 people with 2 chairs and a small table. Our room steward, Anderson, took good care of us and seemed to always be around and was friendly and helpful. We also enjoyed the towel animals he left around our room at night. For those who like Bingo - there seemed to be a lot of it. We enjoyed their Trivia games even though we did not win their cheap prizes. The Karaoke Super Star competition was the best we've ever heard on a cruise. The Quest game kept us laughing for days. We enjoyed the Not-So-Newlywed Game, as one of our tablemates came in second place and shared their bottle of champagne with us at dinner that night. The Casino was the smallest we've seen yet on a cruise. The small casino also had small payouts for us. The live music and entertainment around the ship was good, we especially like the piano bar player. As the cruise ships recommend you need to shop at the recommended stores for high end purchases. Our friends did purchase something from another store and found a surprise on their credit bill when they checked it when they got home and they were overcharged and we don't know if it has been taken care of yet. We have always shopped the recommended stores without any problems. This cruise was fun and a great value. We would do it again.

Read More

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.

Store

Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top