Grandeur of the Seas
by S Pierson
February 25, 2006 This was my eighth cruise, but my first cruise on RCI. I previously cruised on Holland America, Princess, Disney and Carnival. My two companions and I were very pleased with the Grandeur of the Seas. While the ship is now 10 years old, it still looks great, with only minor wear and tear issues in the public areas. There is an unpleasant, moldy sewer odor on the fourth deck. I cant believe they cant find a way to fix that. A few times we got a whiff of that same foul smell in different parts of the ship. The same smell also seemed to get into our bathroom from the drain in the bathroom floor a few days. It was most noticeable when the bathroom door was shut all night. The next morning upon opening the door you got hit by the smell!
The use of white marble, glass and marble in the Centrum area gave it an elegant and timeless look, and the abundance of glass windows gave the ship an open and sunny feel.
We boarded in Tampa and only had to stand in line for about 15 minutes. Check in was smooth, as we had done the online pre-boarding check-in. This was our second cruise out of Tampa and both times it was pretty quick and painless.
The food was very good and we enjoyed all our meals. This is coming from three New Yorkers who eat out a lot at some of the city's top restaurants. Our only complaint was the cheesecake. We have had many types of cheesecake -- New York, Italian, no-bake, etc. but the cheesecake on the ship was truly awful! It was like a tasteless paste, made with a lot more flour then cream cheese. The other desserts were OK; the warm chocolate cake with a gooey center was a favorite. The chocolate creme brulee served at lunch was also delish!
We had breakfast in both the main dinning room and the Windjammer Cafe, the ship's buffet area, nicely positioned in the front of the ship. Both were good with all of the standard breakfast offerings. At the buffet they have an omelet station where you can get fresh omelets or fried eggs. The only negative was the French Toast at the buffet, which was always rock-hard. In the dining room I had the eggs Benedict, which was good and did not taste like it had been sitting in a steam table all morning, as on other ships. We ate lunch or afternoon snacks in the Windjammer Cafe. I am usually not too impressed with cruise ships' buffet lunches, but I found the lunches enjoyable, with a good variety of food from curries to fried chicken (not the leftovers from last night's dinner like on some ships).
We did have lunch once in the dinning room. The food was good but the service was not! Our waiter from Jamaica was grumpy and was not having a good day. The lunch menu in the dinning room does not change, but there is a daily special. The curry chicken special was delicious! Service in the dining room for breakfast and lunch is not at the same level as for dinner. It is open seating, which means you are rushed in and seated with others, and you are rushed thru your meal rather briskly. It is apparent the waiters are not working for tips like at dinner, as the smiles and caring attitude seem to disappear. I have encountered this on every cruise I have been on, which is why I tend to avoid the dinning room for breakfast and lunch.
The spa area was very nice, and the gym area was on the second floor of the spa area. The equipment in the gym was all new. The only drawback was that it was a bit warm and stuffy and there was no music. I have never been to a gym where there was not high energy music playing for that extra boost. The men's changing area was spacious and clean, with lockers, a nice sauna and steam room; neither was very busy when I visited. There were also a few showers. I was surprised that there was only one pedestal-style sink in the whole area, so after working out or getting a treatment in the spa there really was not an area with counter space and mirrors to fix yourself up afterwards. I am guessing that in the ladies area there must be a better set up.
The casino was OK -- a typical cruise ship casino. They did not heavily promote the casino; it was there if you wanted to visit. You have to walk through the casino to get from the Palladium theater to the Centrum or upper dining room level. How clever of them!
The cruise director (forgot her name) was a nice change from the usual overbearing cruise directors, who repeat the same corny cruise jokes over and over. She seemed a bit more current and fresh than most I have encountered.
Overall, we were very pleased by this cruise, and I would certainly cruise on this ship again and recommend it to others. To me it is a perfect size; there were never long lines for anything, even though it was a sold-out sailing. I look forward to cruising with RCI again.