Billy Wood Jr.
Age: 21 to 35
Number of Cruises: 3 to 5 Cruises
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Grandeur of the Seas
Sailing Date: September 5, 1998
Itinerary: 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!