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Tere

Age: 37

Occupation:Teacher

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 24th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My husband and I and four kids (ages 10, 9, 8, and 4) took our first cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas. My in-laws were also along, as was my sister-in-law, her two girls (ages 10 & 7), and their dad. They were all veteran cruisers, so we had some idea what to expect though it still took us a few days to settle in and get into the groove. Should have done a 7- or 10-day cruise.

Our room (7073) was compact, but clean, comfortable, and totally soundproof. The bed was superbly comfortable and we all slept like well-trained babies at night. We were amazed by all the nooks and crannies for storing things. Too bad we missed a few things when packing up to leave. Hope somebody finds them useful. Our steward Connelley was awesome—professional, friendly, helpful, and tireless. Our kids loved the towel animals and mints he left every night. The two younger kids were fascinated by their bunks, which folded down from the ceiling. The other two slept in grandma and grandpa’s room across the hall, which had about ½ as much room as ours. They were bummed to be relegated to a fold-out couch, but did get to enjoy the balcony. Several nights we started all the kids off in our room and then went to enjoy some of the evening activities while the kids slept. Another plus of totally soundproof rooms. Don’t worry. We did check in on them occasionally.

We checked out kids into the Ocean Adventure program at least once per day. They loved the activities, which included art, theater, science experiments, movies, themed-parties, scavenger hunts, talent shows, and behind-the-scenes tours. My four-year old even got to stay when we went on shore at Progresso. She would have quickly worn out with the heat and walking, so I was extremely thankful for that option. Her desire to shop was fully satisfied when I took her to the shops located on the dock just beside the ship. All in all I was impressed with the structure of the program and the professionalism of the staff. My only complaint is that they did not check our ID when we picked the kids up, so either they were really good at memorizing faces or they were relying on the kids to verify that the person picking them up was grandpa. My kids enjoyed making new friends.

The dining was fabulous…especially the desserts. I didn’t have to cook and the kids had so much variety they couldn’t possibly complain and didn’t. Our head waiter even arranged for us to have Baked Alaska one evening at my brother-in-law’s request. We took breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer and opted for the early seating in the Great Gatsby. A note to cruisers with kids…the evening programs in Ocean Adventure start at 7:00, so if you have early seating but want your kids to enjoy their evening activities, you’ll either have to leave dinner early or remember to sign them up by noon for dinner with the Ocean Adventure staff. We did this one night so that the adults could enjoy a dinner sans kids. And the kids were happy to get pizza. Our waiter was great (Zhelyu), though I think we messed up his routine by tossing in a bunch of odd requests. What would have been helpful to me as a new cruiser was to understand the role of each of our three waiters (head waiter, waiter, and assistant). That would have helped us know of whom we should ask certain things. A note to moms: there is a kids’ menu with standard kid fair (pasta, steak, ravioli, etc.), but kids’ meals have to be cooked when ordered, unlike adult meals which have already been prepared. Because of this Zhelyu wanted their order right away, but you know kids…it always takes a while to figure what they want. As a result our dinner stretched a little long each night, which then put the waiters in a crunch to prep for the next seating. By the last evening, I finally figured out that the menu was posted daily outside the dining room, so what I did was review it with the kids so that they would know what the options were there. This worked out well because then they knew in advance whether they wanted something different. There were a couple midnight buffets with good food as well, but I was too dead by then to fully enjoy them.

Being a holiday cruise, there was quite a nice mix of ages on board—lots of teens, seniors, parents w/kids…several large family groups. The daily offering of activities seemed to have something for everyone—dances, karaoke, competitions, Bingo, casino…all probably standard fair. The Grandeur has a rock-climbing wall which hubby said had a variety of routes. The main pool wasn’t very big, but did have a nice, fenced-off shallow end for toddlers and three hot tubs. There seemed to be tons of deck space—some shaded for those wanting to avoid the sun. The Grandeur also has a solarium with small lap pool and hot tub for adults only. This was a nice option for those who didn’t want to be around kids. My favorite activity was the adult quest—I just tend to be competitive and my husband was a good sport to play along. The magician Jeff Peterson was great and had a matinee which was nice for the kids. We were also treated to the comedy of Yakov Smirnov, who was absolutely fabulous. He was clean, funny, and had an uplifting message to his show. We weren’t impressed by the musicals. I think the dancers were fine, but the themes of the one show we saw (My Romance) was boring. We ended up not going back to the others—more because of conflicting activities than anything, though had the first show been fabulous we would have made a more concerted effort to show up.

Let’s see…what else. Oh yes… ports of call. The first stop was Cozumel. We had booked a catamaran/snorkeling excursion. The whole thing was a bit more manufactured than I would have liked, but the kids had a good time and it was fun sitting on top as we motored (not sailed) along. The sail was up, but the props did most of the work. The snorkeling was in a bit of roped off water off the shore, much to my disappointment. We had to wear flotation devices, which made snorkeling difficult unless you let most of the air out. There wasn’t much to see once the 60 of us got into the water and started bobbing around. BUT…it was an okay and safe first introduction to snorkeling and we did see a couple pretty fish. We had more fun using the snorkels at the “private beach” we then went to for an hour. While everyone else ate burgers, played beach volleyball, and swam in the roped off area, our kids stayed on the other side of the boat and snorkeled around there in shallow water. There weren’t many fish, but there was all kinds of shells and dead coral on the bottom. They had fun collecting all sorts of pretty things, but then cried when they had to throw them all back in. The ride back to the ship was fun—lots of dancing and drinking if you are into that sort of thing. MY favorite bit of Cozumel, however, was finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Las Palmitas about 5-6 blocks down Calle 3 Sur and then over ½ a block. Just do what I did and ask the locals how to find it. One of the guys on the boat recommended it. Fabulous food…authentic to the core.

Our second port of call was in Progresso. We spent some time shopping here and found another little hole-in-the-wall place to eat. It wasn’t quite as good as Las Palmitas, but we still ate well and the kids got their tamales. I would have liked more time to explore the town…maybe go to the ruins or into Merida, but simply couldn’t do it all. For those who want to shop but not stray too far from the ship, one can go just a few paces down the dock from the ship to a collection of stores. There is also a bar there and entertainment from local dancer and mariachi bands.

All in all sailing on the Grandeur was a great experience. We found plenty to do and enjoyed spending time with the family without having to provide the meals and the entertainment. My biggest complaint is that unless you are ordering alcoholic drinks, the bar service doesn’t really have any interest in bringing you anything. I gave up trying to get a glass of water or lemonade after the first day by the pool and fetched my own. My kids thought that soft serve should have been available all day, not just in the afternoons and evenings.

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