Royal Caribbean International - Cruisemates Reader's Cruise Reviews
CruiseMates' Readers Cruise Reviews
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Grandeur of the Seas
by S Pierson
Western Caribbean
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.

We had a junior suite, cabin 7154, in the stern. The cabin was perfect for three adults. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a small bath tub. I am guessing the bathroom was about the same size as in the other balcony cabins, but with a tub instead of just a shower. There was very little counter space around the sink, but plenty of shelves tucked away behind mirrors on each side of the sink. There was a small fridge, a surprisingly small TV, and a safe in the room. The best feature was the large balcony, which was larger than the balconies in the junior suite cabins on the sides of the ship. It had two chairs, a small table and two lounge chairs with room to spare. While there are glass-frosted dividers separating the balconies, you can clearly hear the conversations next to and above you. Thankfully the people on both sides of us rarely used their balcony. Our room steward Carlos did a great job keeping our cabin clean and neat; our bathroom was always spotless. He was happy to oblige with any special requests.

The Great Gatsby two-level dining room is very attractive, with a variety of table sizes. Our waiter Vladimir was great, with a friendly and professional manner. Our assistant waiter was a hard worker and very efficient. The headwaiter for our area, Geraldine from the Philippines, was exceptional! She went out of her way to make sure all the tables in her area were well taken care of. She knew our names after the first night and never failed to stop by our table, address us by name and make sure all was well. She even had a special dessert made for one of the persons in our party.

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.

My favorite area of the ship during the day was the Solarium. This is for guests age 16 or older, so there were no small children running around screaming like by the main outdoor pool. It is covered by a glass roof, so on a rainy day you can still enjoy the pool (saltwater) and two Jacuzzis in this area. Classical music played in the background, which lent a nice relaxing touch. The lounge chairs in this area are covered by thick cushions. The Solarium area has a bar; a grill for pizza, hot dogs and burgers (never too busy); and the entrance to the spa.

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!

We went to the two productions shows in the attractive two-level Palladium theater. Because I am a frequent Broadway theater-goer, I try not to compare cruise ship productions to the standard. However, I must say that the two lead singers in these productions were outstanding. The shows themselves -- one a Broadway revue, and the other a Jazz show -- were a bit flat. The team of dancers seemed to do a lot of the same simple dance steps over and over. The stage often seemed a bit empty due to the small number of dancers, fewer then I have seen on other ships.

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.