We just returned from a lovely cruise to Bermuda aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. After enduring reports of crashes (into the pier at Costa Maya), blown engines, missed ports, hurricanes, etc..we were quite delighted to pull up to the port in Baltimore to see our ship glistening in the sunshine on the morning of July 17th! We arrived around 11:00a.m. (after a short 1 hour drive from Delaware). It was very easy to get to the port. We were directed to drop off our luggage and then to head to our parking spot (which was right next to the ship!) Parking was $10/day or $50 for the 5-night cruise, paid in cash in advance. After the very short jaunt from the car to the terminal we were checked in and ready to board in as little as 10 minutes. We did have to wait about another 10 minutes before we were allowed to board the ship. So, from our car, to our cabin was perhaps a 25 minute stretch! When we arrived at the cabin, it was not ready to receive us (it was only 11:30 a.m. after all and they say the cabins are not required to be ready until 2:00 p.m.).
We were in Cabin 8588 which is an aft junior suite right in the middle of the back of the ship facing the wake. It was a nice size cabin with plenty of storage space and a comfortable bathroom (for a ship, that is) with a bath tub and with nice toiletries provided (shampoo, shower gel, lotion, lip balm) and two luscious robes. The balcony was very large. It had two upright chairs, one lounge-type chair, and a coffee table. Anyway, we dropped off our carry-on stuff and headed to the Windjammer for Lunch. The buffet was the usual stuff. Not great, but not bad either. We toured the ship. It was in very nice shape. We felt it was clean and we really liked the layout. This was my 16th cruise, but first one on a Vision-class ship. Most of my cruises have been on larger, newer ships. Grandeur is a very elegant ship and was aptly named. We met up with some friends from Cruise Critic in the afternoon which was the beginning of a fun week!
We had early seating in the Great Gatsby Dining Room and had a lovely table right beside the Captain's Table (which he never appeared at). We were seated with our Cruise Critic friends which made for a very pleasant Dining experience! (Thanks Pam and David! We loved getting to know you both!) Our Dining Room crew was pretty good. Tomas the waiter was a bit of a clown. He was efficient though. Silvia the Asst. Waiter (waitress I should say) was delightful but not terribly skilled in her craft quite yet! She was fun to be around, but she was forever spilling water and iced tea when she tried to fill our glasses and made for some good laughs! She's a sweet girl though and will get better at her job in time! She tried very hard to please us! We just smiled and said, "thanks" and wiped up the puddles of water or tea from our laps when she walked away! The Dining Room food was very good (excellent at times). A few times I did have to order from the alternative menu, but only because I just wasn't in the "mood" for the selections they had to offer on those nights.
The entertainment during our week was pretty good. There were two production shows which were terrific and a couple of other variety type shows with comedians, magicians, etc. All were good. We saw some game shows and attended one of the art auctions. We had a good time but these events tend to be the same from ship to ship. We skipped bingo, pool games, theme parties, etc. Others certainly seemed to enjoy them though. We lounged around the ship a lot. There are plenty of spots to do this both indoors and out. We never had a problem getting a lounge chair either although there were quite a few "saved" chairs despite the signs explaining how this practice is not allowed. One HUGE complaint I had was that they NEVER opened the retractable roof from over the solarium and it was SWELTERING HOT in there! I couldn't be in there for more than 5 minutes without starting to have difficulty breathing from the oppressive heat and humidity! I agree that those roofs are great on a rainy day or in colder climates, but geez, it was 90 degrees outside and about 290 degrees inside that oven of a solarium! We asked them why they didn't open it, but didn't ever get an actual answer. Oh well, we just didn't spend any time in there (which was a disappointment because the solarium is usually our favorite spot).
After one full day at sea, we arrived on the morning of day 3 in Beautiful Bermuda and docked at King's Wharf. I had read so many reviews where people suggested that a cruise that only docked at the Wharf would be a waste of time. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that King's Wharf was a delightful port and you could easily access any part of the island you wanted. It was very picturesque at the wharf (in my opinion the prettiest of the three possible docking areas in Bermuda.St. George's, Hamilton, and King's Wharf). It was a lovely area which incorporated both history (the old Naval Fort) and local culture plus all the fun of the snorkel park, water excursions, easy access to the bus/ferry system and much more! The evening we were there they also held a Festival right at the Dockyard which was very enjoyable with live music, Gombey dancers, local vendors, etc. We really loved King's Wharf and would definitely consider it as a great destination in the future.
On our first day in Bermuda, we did the Wildcat Adventure Tour. This is a speedboat which sails around the entire island in 2 hours, stopping along the way for sights of interest. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, the Wildcat blew it's bearings and slipped a belt (or something like that.I'm not a mechanic!) anyway we then floated in to St. George's to pick up replacement parts, but got the added bonus of a closer look at St. George's along the way. We continued on with our tour only to find that we had lost our navigational capability and could not sailing into the more treacherous waters on the southshore side of the island (boo hoo, no Horseshoe bay!!!) So, we turned around and sped back toward Hamilton and toured around that bay for a while. We were disappointed that we didn't get to sail along the Southshore beaches, but it was still a nice tour all in all.
After lunch on the ship, we grabbed the public bus to Horseshoe Bay (we were going to see it one way or another!) It was an easy ride to the beach (about 20 minutes). It cost $4 per person each way. We walked down the steep hill at Horseshoe and were awed by the stunning beauty ahead! I've been to many beautiful places, but this is right up there near the top for out and out beauty! The water was very rough though and made for difficulty trying to swim! The undertow was quite dangerous! We managed to survive it though! We spent the afternoon splashing in the waves and wandering from one beautiful cove to the next! The walk back up the hill at the end of the day should be reserved only for the athletes though! Hubby and I made it, but in retrospect, we should have paid the $1 and taken the little van that was available to drive us up the hill. Sometimes it's better to just admit it when you are licked! We were stubborn though, and once we got to the top of the hill..we were drenched in sweat and miserable. The bus ride back to the dockyard was much more crowded and felt like it took a lot longer. I don't think it actually did though.
After Dinner on the ship, we headed out to the Dockyard Festival for the remainder of the night and visited all the cute shops right there at the Clocktower Mall at the Dockyard and enjoyed the music and dancers. It was a beautiful night. The ship was all lit up and the moon was full overhead. The Dockyard was abuzz with excitement and the ship was alive with activity. It was really and awesome evening.
On the 2nd day at Bermuda we did the Restless Native Catamaran Tour. This was a leisurely and educational tour around the harbor near Hamilton. We learned a lot of Bermuda history as well as a bit of marine biology of the undersea life in that region. We eventually anchored in shallow water in a private cove and spent an hour or so snorkeling in underwater caves and over various reefs. It was very nice. The tour staff was very knowledgeable and entertaining at the same time. They also served hot, homemade chocolate-chip cookies that were cooked right onboard the catamaran and rum swizzles, lemonade, and/or water. It was really a nice tour and I highly recommend it. It lasted about 3 ½ hours.
After a quick lunch on the ship, we headed back out to explore the Maritime Museum right there at the Dockyard. It was very interesting and we could have spent more time there but did have to get back to the ship to prepare for our departure from lovely Bermuda.
The following day was another leisurely sea day. We went to a towel-folding class, a swing-dance class, learned a few "tricks" at the magician's class, and relaxed with a good book in the Library. We had no trouble filling our time throughout the week. Whether we were active or inactive..we were enjoying ourselves on the beautiful Grandeur of the Seas! There were a few "snafu's" throughout the week, but nothing that tainted my cruise experience.
Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation. We waited for our tags to be called in the Viking Crown Lounge (for Platinum and Diamond Members) where they had coffee, juice, and pastries. They started disembarking the self-assist passengers at about 9:00a.m. (those were the folks who carried their own luggage off the ship). We had white tags and were the first called for the "regular" disembarkation to pick up our luggage from the warehouse. We were in our car heading home by 9:45a.m.