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Joanie Ogg, CTC, MCC

Age: Baby Boomer

Occupation:Travel Association Executive

Number of Cruises: 100

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sailing Date: June 24, 2005

Itinerary: 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.

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