Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Grandeur of the Seas
Sailing Date: June 10th, 2005
Itinerary: 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.