My husband and I booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas just 10 days before it was set to sail on February 5, 2005. It was my first cruise, and my husband's second cruise, and we were excited with the prospect of this last minute, desperately needed vacation. We are happy to report that Royal Caribbean did not disappoint.
The Grandeur of the Seas was departing out of New Orleans for 7 days with stops in Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman Island, and Costa Maya, Mexico.
We traveled from Georgia to New Orleans the day before the ship was to set sail to visit with family in the area. The ship departed the same weekend as Mardi Gras, so we were able to get in a few parades before boarding on Saturday which was a lot of fun.
It should be noted, however, that if you book this cruise the week of Mardi Gras that getting to the ship by car may be more difficult. We had locals taking us so it was not a problem, especially once you get to the pier area, but many streets are blocked at various times due to parades so give yourself extra time and check the route you plan to take to the ship. Also, children in New Orleans have the entire Mardi Gras week off from school, while children in other parts of Louisiana also get at least three days off. As a result, many locals take the opportunity to go on vacation during this week each year, and many of them cruise since the port is so convenient to them. We had many more children and families on the cruise than we expected since it was not a typical holiday or Spring Break time of the year. We did not mind and barely noticed them, but it is worth mentioning for those who might want to avoid this issue altogether.
EMBARKING: Easy, Easy, Easy. From the time we were dropped off, checked in, and went through security, we were on the ship within 15 to 20 minutes max. The process was a breeze. Each passenger's documentation is checked and each is then issued a Sea Pass card that allows you to charge every purchase on the ship. It also is your pass off and back on the ship.
PEOPLE: Our ship had a great mix of people of all ages. From a few college kids, to twenty and thirty somethings, to young families, and retirees, it was a very diverse crowd.
SHIP APPEARANCE: For a nine year old ship, it was in much better condition than I expected considering the number of people that have passed through it over the years. The ship was very, very well maintained. If you looked close enough and paid enough attention, you definitely could see some signs of age and an overall on the current fabrics couldn't hurt, but the overall appearance of the ship was great.
CABIN: By the time we booked, only interior staterooms remained, therefore we booked a larger interior stateroom on a higher deck, mid ship in Stateroom 7605. The stateroom was not huge by any means, but it was spacious enough for my husband and me. We had no trouble finding enough room to store all of our belongings, plenty of drawers, cabinets, and little nooks and crannies, while also not feeling like we were on top of each other when we were getting ready. We were hardly in the stateroom anyway, so to us, it really did not matter. The room was in good shape and well maintained. With the ship being 9 years old, there was some normal wear and tear, but you really had to be looking for it. Our cabin steward, Newton, was incredible. He introduced himself immediately when we passed him in the hallway, knew which cabin we were in, and made sure that all of our needs were met throughout our trip.definitely a pleasure. We also enjoyed being towards the middle of the ship since as a result; we had easy access to one of the central staircases.
FOOD: Great Gatsby Dining Room: We were very impressed with the food in the main dining room. Prime Rib, Steak, Lobster, Shrimp were all offered on the menu. Be sure to always also check out the "Daily Alternatives" listed on the menu too. The food was presented beautifully and tasted delicious. The main dining room never disappointed us, and our servers were amazing.the level of service was outstanding. They also offer breakfast and lunch in the main dining room which is great alternative since the Café can get very busy. Windjammer Café: The other options on the ship for food were ok, but not as impressive. Food is always served, buffet style, in the Windjammer Café. We typically ate here for breakfast and lunch. There was always plenty to choose from in the Café, but over the course of the week, we noticed the menu did not vary too much. I am definitely not complaining.I understand the difficulty in anticipating food for up to 2000 people and keeping them all happy. But just expect a typical buffet, with decent food and plenty to fill you up, but with some of the menu items being great, and others just so so. The Windjammer Café did host a BBQ for lunch on the pool deck on Thursday, and the ribs and chicken were wonderful! Again, just some things were better than others, but you really should not have trouble finding something to satisfy you unless you are a really picky eater. Also, remember there is always the main dining room as an alternative. Solarium Café: Pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, and fries are served here throughout the day. All are ok, fries were wonderful. Expect long lines in the afternoon after everyone returns from port. Room Service: Overall, room service was great, but we did experience some spotty service a couple of times, especially toward the end of the cruise, they could have just been busy. It is available 24/7 with a wide menu including almost all of the menu items offered each night in the main dinning room.
ACTIVITIES/ENTERTAINMENT: Daily lists of activities are delivered to your stateroom each evening for the following day. There is always plenty to do on the ship with an enthusiastic team of cruise directors leading the way. The main Cruise Director Tom was hilarious and very entertaining. There were various parties such as the Bon Voyage Party, Captain's Cocktail Hour, and Evening Pool Deck Party, as well as many activities such as a couple of Art Auctions, Bingo, Shopping Info Sessions, Pool Games, Karaoke, Trivia, etc. There were also new to video movies available at all times in your cabin, a library, and a game room, all in addition to the ship's casino. In the afternoon and evening, there was also live entertainment available in the main Centrum and the two lounges, in addition to the main show in the Palladium Theater each evening. We did not make it to every show, but were more pleased with the individual acts over the larger production shows. STAFF: Overall, we were incredibly pleased with the level of service we received from all of the RCI staff. Everyone from the Cruise Directors to the Wait Staff to the Cabin Stewards was friendly, warm, and saw to our every need. The only surprising disappointment was the staff at the Purser's Desk. We had to interact with this desk two or three times over the week, and each time our questions were not answered.other passengers in line were often able to help me more than the staff at this desk. For instance, 1) we failed to turn in our request for tip vouchers by the deadline of Thursday evening. Tip night was Friday night and we went to the Purser's Desk Friday morning. There was no explanation as to why we could not charge tips to our Sea Pass account at that time, even though you could charge anything else up until the time you walked off the ship. It really made no sense to us, and the Purser offered no logical explanation. The only option we were given, by a fellow passenger, was the ATM which charges a large fee for use. Luckily, we had enough money from our spending money left to tip our staff appropriately. 2) They were unable to answer custom allowances for the US, how do they pull into a US port every week and not be able to recite this information in their sleep? 3) A wine package that was to be included in our fare was not in our cabin upon arrival as promised. The Purser said he had no record of it until I showed him my email confirmation. He then said all he could do was make a "request" to room service but there was no guarantee. I called room service myself, and they straightened it out in a few minutes. I thought the Purser's desk was to be the source of all answers, but I found not one there.it was really bizarre for a guest relations counter. Our interactions with the Purser's desk, although frustrating, should NOT take anything away from the rest of the amazing RCI staff who were wonderful and really doing the job of actually carrying out all the services on board. Many never even have to interact with the Purser's Desk, so I would not let it deter you from booking this cruise; we just found it odd and frustrating that the service everywhere else BUT the Purser's Desk was amazing.
TIPPING: The last night in the cruise is tip night. On RCI, your Stateroom Attendant, Dining Room Head Waiter, Table Head Waiter, and Table Assistant Waiter are all to be tipped. You can find the suggested tips on RCI website. On the morning of the last full day, you will receive envelopes in your cabin for each of these people mentioned above. RCI gives you the option of charging the recommended tips to your Sea Pass account or simply paying cash. If you choose to charge the tips to your Sea Pass account, vouchers will be delivered along with your envelopes to put inside. At this time, you can also add additional cash if you wish. RCI will give you a form in your cabin early in the week if you choose to charge to your Sea Pass account.it must be handed in before the deadline or you will not be able to obtain vouchers. Regardless of which way you choose to tip, tips are handed out on the last evening of the cruise. We left ours for our Stateroom Attendant in the room and handed out the rest in the dinning room at the end of dinner. It is a little awkward, but everyone else is doing the same thing.
We had a great time on RCI and would not hesitate for a second to sail with them again