This was our second cruise ever for my husband and myself (55 and 54), both cruises taken this year. We chose Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas because it was leaving out of Baltimore, 30 minutes from our home, and we did not have waste time and money flying to Florida. Our destination was Grand Bahama Island, Florida Keys, Cocoa Cay, and Port Canaveral Florida. (Our first cruise was last April on the brand new Caribbean Princess to Jamaica, Grand Caymans, Princess Cay, and Cozumel, Mexico).
We knew it was hurricane season, but didn't let that worry us. Well, guess what happened?
STATEROOM: We had booked an inside room but were delighted to be upgraded to a larger outside room with picture window. (On the Princess we had splurged for a balcony room, so we cut back this time). There was adequate storage, but we could have used a few more hangers. Bathroom small, but adequate. Flushes were not as noisy as on Caribbean Princess! Lots of medicine cabinet space. In the main area there was a dressing table/desk with large mirror and mirrored -door shelving up both sides, good storage, drawers.. Queen bed with nightstands on either side. Very soft sheets, comfortable mattress, but scratchy blanket! No bedspread at all -- I guess because of summer. Our room attendant left us cute animals made from twisted towels, which was fun.
SERVICES: There is no self-laundry or ironing like on the Caribbean Princess., but the rates for getting shirts, suits, pants done are reasonable. I suggest bringing travel steamer for wrinkles. Internet is 50 cents/minute, which adds up quickly. It is hard to get on and off for less than $3.00. Usually $5-6 if you write anything. On the Caribbean Princess it was 35 cents/minute.
SHIP: First of all, the ship is very nice. The Centrum area is lovely with many curved marble steps with silver and gold lighted railings and appointments. It is an impressive 8 decks high with visible glass elevators moving up and down full height.
The casino is very large, I believe larger than on the Caribbean Princess -- and I loved the entrance floor which looked like buried treasure under glass with coins, jewels, strings of pearls, crowns, and even a skeleton! Hubby lost $40 and I won $50, so we came out ahead!
Public areas are very nice, roomy, with nice comfortable furniture in wonderful fabrics. The South Pacific room is where they had most of the dancing and it was very impressive, very large, with great sofas and chairs on different tiers, tables, beautifully decorated and comfortable. We enjoyed the Duxbury Cadillac band there, usually 50s-70s music, and they were excellent. They did country music one night too.
FOOD: The Windjammer buffet is good, with most everything you could ask for, and out-of-this-world desserts -- but they weren't always open -- when they were closed you could get pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries from the grill in the Solarium (aft). The coffee and tea was pretty good (Seattle's Best coffee) everywhere.
The Great Gatsby dining room covered two open decks and was lovely. The food was excellent, with many choices. If you didn't like what they listed, ask for something else! Want two lobsters? Ask for it and you get it. Want one steak and one lobster, as you wish! Two entrees? Three appetizers? So be it! Our waiter was from Slovakia. He was maybe 25-33 and a little crazy....in a fun way. We joked with him a lot. His name was Tomas (pronounced Tow-Mass). He aimed to please and worked hard for his tips. The waiters sang and danced on certain nights, and it was fun. We had a GREAT bunch of people at our table and laughed a lot.
ENTERTAINMENT: The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers put on a fantastic musical show. Two of the girl singers were OUTSTANDING. One show was 50's music, one 40s Swing, and one called The Beat Goes On -- 50s - 80s? They had a comedian we did not see, and a juggler we did not see. Lance Ringold (sp), two-time gold medal Olympic gymnast was there on Friday, and did a show featuring films of him in his heyday, then came out dressed as an old man with a walker, then proceeded to show us he still had the goods. He also surprised us by playing piano and singing and by doing an arial hanging silks routine, ala Cirque de Soleil.
PORTS OF CALL: Our first stop was Grand Bahama Island. We took the party boat/shopping trip to Port Lucaya. The boat was fun, music, dancing, complementary Bahama Mamma alcohol or lemonade beverages. The shopping excursion was bad -- nothing I was interested in. Overpriced junk or high-faluting expensive stuff. A bus "tour" brought us back -- "On the left is our oil refinery, here is our used car lot, here is our Winn Dixie...." Bleak. bleak. Bleak. Another tour might have been better. Our next stop was Key West... this was great. I wish we spent two days in Key West...but as we got there, we heard they were beginning to evacuate for Hurricane Charley. Key West is beautiful with LOTS to do. We took a Catamaran Sail and Snorkel and it was very nice. We walked the streets and loved seeing all the culture and shops and quaint scenes. Not enough time. I bought lots of lotions and bath products at Key West Aloe, GOOD STUFF!
Our next stop was Cocoa Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island. It was nice, I was disappointed. The water was not clear, too many people? The snorkeling was hazy, not pristine like we had before. There were lots of fish if you went out where directed, and a sunken plane, and a sunken boat, but the waves were high and we were warned of being pulled out, so we didn't go out far. Our kayak trip was canceled due to high seas expected. The beach barbecue was nice to have, but nothing special taste-wise.
Our next stop was to be Port Canaveral, Fla, but the hurricane was headed right that way, so we went out to sea instead. Charley hit Florida hard...we spent one day at sea avoiding it and then started up the coast toward Baltimore. Charley started getting closer, so the captain turned us around south-east to let him pass, and then we followed him up the Chesapeake Bay to home. We did not hit bad weather, we did not have any seas higher then 4-8 feet....Captain Sven kept us out of harm's way. Sorry to miss Sea World in Florida, but it was closed anyway! We had fun watching Shrek 2 movie, having dinner with new friends, and enjoying dancing and music on the ship. They also played some audience participation game shows in the South Pacific Room (Quest, Newlywed game)...BEWARE! If you are shy or private, DO NOT VOLUNTEER. These were quite racy with very personal and intrusive qestions! However, one funny point..in the game QUEST, the audience divided into teams for a scavenger hunt. One quest was for each group to send up a man with bright lipstick on..each group would send a volunteer and wave their group number for a point. The next asked for baldheaded men, and each group sent a representative for a point. Then the emcee kept one bald man and seated him, and asked for a lady with bright lipstick to come from each group to kiss his head. So 20 women run up, leave their smack on his head for a point. The Emcee asked the man, how did you like that? The man replied, ONE MORE TIME! So the emcee said, okay, all those men in lipstick, come on down! It was hilarious to see the look on the bald man's face as all those lipsticked men ran up to get their points. The bald mans wife was hysterically laughing next to us. But as I warned, that was the MILD part of the show.
All in all, we had a fun cruise. The ship is lovely. The staff was great and aimed to please. Key West is a great town. Grand Bahama Island I could have done without, but perhaps choosing a different shore excursion would change my mind. Cocoa Cay was too crowded and the swimming area was so small, I wondered about sanitation with that many people sharing the water in close proximity- if you know what I mean. We enjoyed the dancing on the ship and got some nice pictures on formal nights all duded up in gowns and tuxes. We even found a quiet little place high over the Centrum where the band music from down below wafted up so we could dance privately...hubby gets nervous dancing in front of people.
Royal Caribbean is a very nice line on which to sail, and the Grandeur of the Seas is a lovely ship with great staff and a captain who puts safety first and a crew who aims to please and pamper.
Questions? Suegee1@comcast.net NO SPAMMERS!