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Helen Fleitas

Age: 40's

Occupation:full time mom, part time contract programmer

Number of Cruises: 8

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sailing Date: February 22nd, 2002

Itinerary: 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.

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