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Tom Doran

Age: 31

Occupation:Firefighter

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sailing Date: October 11th, 2003

Itinerary: 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

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