I am 26 years old and my husband and I got married on June 7, 2000 and decided to book a cruise for our Honeymoon. Neither of us had ever cruised before. We got an excellent deal booking about 3 weeks ahead of time and we were booked into a Category "K" inside cabin (the largest interior type cabin) with a guarantee. (We were guaranteed at least that category but there was a chance for upgrade if available). Our travel agent called us two days before we left and told us we had been upgraded to an "H". We had two porthole windows with a large windowsill that was great to sit in and watch the high seas beneath our window. To keep this fairly short, I'll just break down what we generally thought of each aspect of this ship:
The cabin: Spacious and pretty on the 3rd level and in the front of the boat. We always heard the front of the boat is the worst place to be but we loved it, there is more movement and it lulled me to sleep each night. The anchor being dropped could be frightening if not expecting it. We did not ever feel cramped and we loved our portholes, although we would have preferred a square window. The outside cabins at the front of the boat all have porthole windows as there is more water action near the front of the boat. We were very happy for our upgrade, however.
The service: Our Steward was rarely seen, but we never came back to a messy cabin. He also made wonderful little displays with the MANY pillows on our bed that were waiting for us each time we came back to the cabin. We always had fresh ice and towels and our bed was always turned down with mints and the intinerary for the following day. Our head waiter, waiter and assistant waiter were absolutely wonderful. Our Head Waiter, Apollo, is from Greece (we think). We even requested a dessert that was not on the menu and it was made for us the next night. He was very knowledgable about the ports of call and was just a super nice person. Our Waiter, Idell, was from South Africa and she really made dinner a pleasure each night. She was also very knowledgable of the ports of call and gave us a run down at the end of each night what to expect at port the next day. (we only missed one dinner as we wore ourselves out in St. Thomas and slept through dinner, but we ordered room service at 10:00 and had Lobster & Escargo). Our Assistant Waiter, Ovideu, aka Zorro, was from Romania (we called him Zorro because he looks like Antonio Banderas) . He was also super and always remembered what drinks were preferred and he even remembered that our tablemates liked coffee before dinner and that my husband needs extra lemons for his tea. Our wine steward always brought out our wine left over from the previous night and we never had to wait on anything from anyone. I can't say how many desserts we tried, but there were nights that some of us had two to three desserts! We became friends with two other tablemates. The other two tablemates that we began with were two single women and they did not return after the second night. They had requested to be moved and were obliged. (We assume that they just weren't having much fun with two other married couples). This enabled us to have a more intimate setting each night and become close to our table mates who we continue to keep in contact with. The Cruise Director is an absolute riot, the guy could be a professional comedian, I guess in a way he already is. Last but not least, the Captain is exactly the way I have always envisioned a Captain should be, a Handsome man with a strong, confident presence.
The Ship: This ship is just beautiful. This was our first cruise so we really can't compare it to any other ships, but we talked to several people on board who are avid cruisers and they all prefer RCI to other cruiselines and many have sailed on this particular ship numerous times. Our favorite place to be was the Viking Crown Lounge. We loved to just relax with a drink and look out of the wonderful windows (except for Disco nights which were quite popular, but not our cup of tea. My husband is a blues/rock musician and we are not really into the disco thing). Of the two pools, we preferred the Atrium. It was more relaxed with less children and the pool is like a giant Jacuzzi. The other pool was more of a party atmosphere, which I love too, but not all of the time. The only complaint I had in this area was that they didn't enforce the no kids in the Jacuzzis rule. Signs were posted but no one heeded them and no one seemed to care. We love kids, we have two, but there was a reason we didn't take them on our honeymoon! The Schooner Bar was nice but the band that always played ther w as mediocre at best. An elderly crowd usually gathered there to dance. Karioke was also held there, which was really fun to watch but they didn't do it long enough and they require you to sign up before it starts or you can't participate, so if you go to the big evening show you can only catch the end of it and can't participate. There was a very good female jazz singer that performed in the Atrium, alternating with a pretty good trio that consisted of a guitar, a piano and a violin. There was always care of the ship going on, polishing brass and glass, re-varnishing railings, and there were even crew members with little pieces of sandpaper that kept any spot of anything from being on the wooden decks for very long. This is a very clean, well maintained ship. We were on the same path and ports of call as the Norway, which is a really pretty, old ship, so it was always nice to look out at the ports and see that Quaint old ship. It also made for great background in alot of pictures. There was always a place to get peace and quiet and we never had to wait in line anywhere except the omelet line in the Windjammer in the mornings, but that wasn't a very long wait. ONE PIECE OF ADVICE, when you go in the Windjammer, walk all the way around to the other side because you will discover food you didn't know was there so it's best to look at everything first.
The Entertainment: The big shows were pretty good. The Platters were very good and there were several good comedians. We did not attend every show. The sound system in the Paladium could definitely be set up differently. It is very harsh at times and some simple changes would make it sound alot better. The last night of bingo had to be held in the Paladium as the jackpot wasn't won until the final night onboard and it reached over $7000 so EVERYONE, played bingo the last night, even us and we never play bingo. As mentioned before, we didn't go to the disco nights but they were very popular and the Viking Crown was always packed at night. The Grandeur of the Seas Orchestra backed up the big shows and they were really quite good, we were disappointed they never played elsewhere during the cruise.
Ports of Call: Labadee Haiti was a quaint little island paradise. There were several little bands that played on the island. It is ok to buy one of their tapes that they push, there is actually their music on there. There are guys that will carry your chairs anywhere you want them to for a small tip. IT was very nice to be set up right in front of the music, looking at the water, sipping a big frozen drink! BE WARNED THOUGH-The natives in the straw market are very pushy and they can be very pitiful. This is a very poor country and they will do just about anything to get you to buy something. I do not like being grabbed and we would have purchased alot more from them had they not been so aggressive. Definitely take the time to walk over to Dragons Rock as it is a very nice view and makes for great pictures.
San Juan was pretty neat. We rented a motor scooter (the placei s called Wheels of fun and is located near the plaza McDonalds). It was fun to tool arounf Old San Juan on the cobblestone streets on the scooter. It costs $55 for a scooter all day and $5 extra if you share a scooter & require an additional helmet. The people here are very tourist-friendly. There are many jewlry stores in San Juan but if you hold out for St. Thomas there are better deals there. Gotta purchase some Puerto Rican Rum though.
St. Thomas: We actually bought an excursion for this trip and this was the funnest thing we invested in. TAKE THE BUCK ISLAND SAIL & SNORKLE, and if you can, request to be on "The Survival". The owners of this sailboat, David and Judy, live on their boat and they are super guides, It was a beautiful 5 mile sail over to Buck Island, a wildlife preserve that no human is allowed upon except for the occasional serviceman to service the light tower. You know when you snorkle that you are going to see some neat stuff, but nothing prepares you for what you see when you first put your face under the water here. I have never snorkeled and now I am hooked. Judy was an excellent guide in the water. We heard from the others that went on the other sailboats that they didn't have the knowledable guides that we had on "The Survival". When going into town, don't be afraid to hail a taxi. It only costs $2.50 per person to go to downtown in any taxi.
CoCoCay was what paradise is made of. IF you snorkle here, which I also reccomend because you can just get the gear and snorkle all you want, stay at the first beach and swim all the way out to the lifegaurd stands. The one on the ocean side is near a great trench and very deep water with lots of sea life. The next lifegaurd stand over to the right is near a sunken airplane and a whole lot of fish. The nest lifegaurd stand over is near a boat wreck and also many fish. BE WARNED: The water is very shallow and VERY rocky for quite some ways until you get out to the deep water and in the swimming area you annot see the bottom. You will be tempted to guide yourself on your hands here and it's not a good idea as there is alot of fire coral in these waters and it does not feel good if you touch it. I was stung and my wrist swelled up and I felt nothing but stinging pain for two days. Luckily, this was the last port of call for me. When it's time to relax, just walk. You will run into some incredibly beautiful beach areas. We saw lots of Conch and starfish. There are hammocks and when you are laying in a hammock next to these turqoise waters on one of the silent beaches it will truly feel like paradise.
I don't know if this review will be helpful to anyone, but I read several reviews before I went on this cruise and I found them extremely helpful. I am glad that my first cruise was on The Grandeur of the Seas and I would reccomend this ship to everyone!!