GRANDEUR OF THE SEAS
March 20-25, 2006
We arrived at the pier around 11:00am, and there were no lines at all. We checked in at the Diamond counter and were handed our SeaPass cards in a matter of minutes. As the Grandeur was not scheduled to sail from Tampa this season, RCI is using Carnival’s terminal which is nothing more than an aluminum building. In the Diamond waiting area they had juice, coffee, cookies and fruit set up, however we barely had taken our seats when they announced pre-boarding for Diamond/Diamond Plus and Suite guests. We boarded at 11:30am sharp and were one of the first onboard. Cabins were not ready until 2pm due to the heavy sanitation of the ship after the recent outbreak of the Noro-virus a few cruises prior to ours. We did find our cabin and dropped off our carry on bags before heading to the Windjammer for lunch.
The lunch buffet in the Windjammer was the most disappointing of any of my past RCI cruises. It’s not that the food was bad, the choices were very limited and remained that way throughout the cruise. The food they did have was ok, not great as on some of the other RCI ships.
We had cabin 2602, a Category I, oceanview cabin that was one of the handicapped accessible staterooms. This was great for us, as the cabin was double the size of a regular oceanview cabin. The bathroom was huge which was another plus. Due to the size of this cabin there was an extra desk/vanity and chest of drawers which was more than enough storage for a 5 night cruise. The cabin also contained a phone in the bathroom as well as a cordless phone on the desk, TV, sofa and coffee table. The décor was a bit dated and the bedding had yet to be replaced in our cabin. We still had the old “army cot” type mattresses, but seeing as how we only got a few hours sleep a night it didn’t bother us. I did notice as I walked around the ship that some cabins had the updated bedding and décor, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before they work their way down to Deck 2. RCI is also in the process of replacing the bedding on all their ships with new bed frames, pillow top mattresses and 120 thread count sheets, however that project won’t be completed until early 2007. I would expect the Grandeur not to have this enhancement until her drydock in April of 2007 at which time she is planned for lengthening like the Enchantment received earlier this year.
The Grandeur is coming up on her 10th birthday this December, and having only sailed her in her inaugural year (twice), I can say she’s holding up quite well. Most of the carpet in the public areas and cabin hallways was new, and the furnishings were in good shape. I saw little signs of wear and tear throughout the ship. The only real thing that stood out was the brass in the Centrum elevators was spotted and dull, but that was due to all the bleach and sanitizer they were using to keep the Noro-virus at bay. Actually they did polish out all the “stains” but not until Day 3 when they were sure the virus was not onboard, however they did have a checklist whereby they had to spray all the public areas with sanitizer every hour on the hour. They also had the hand sanitizer stations at the entrance of the ship and all restaurants and there was a crew member stationed there that insisted everyone use them before entering. The crew, with the exception of bartender Bruno in the Schooner Bar was excellent. A lot had been with RCI for 13-16 yrs and it was nice to see so many familiar faces. As for Bruno, if you run into him, keep on moving. He’s very rude and makes a drink like the alcohol is coming out of his pocket rather than RCI’s. The crew don’t even like him and a few told me he’s gotten a lot of complaints and most likely won’t be around much longer.
The entertainment onboard was quite good. The 2 production shows were well done by a talented group of singers and dancers. The guest acts this week were Micky Dolenz of the Monkees who was surprisingly good. The other guest entertainer was a comedian named David Morgan who had some stupid duck puppet named “Chucky”, he was not funny 11 yrs ago when we saw him on the Majesty and as his act had not changed one word since then, it was even less amusing this time.
The pool band, Men of Culture was excellent. The other bands throughout the ship were also very good. The Viking Crown disco went on until the wee hours of the morning and the DJ played a nice mix of music to keep the place hopping.
The food in the My Fair Lady Dining room was excellent. Everyone in our group had something different and there were no complaints in any of the items selected. For those that were wondering, YES they do serve lobster on the 5 night cruise and it was excellent.
Our waiter Vivek from India was excellent as was headwaiter Mary from Trinidad. The only low point in the service was our Asst. waiter Vladamir from Ukraine was not very attentive or friendly. Room service was fast and accurate, and the food always arrived hot or cold as ordered. The only downfall in the food was the Windjammer which did not have a great selection for lunch. The Solarium Café served good burgers and great fries however the pizza was not that great. The pizza in Sorrento’s on the Monarch and Sovereign is much better as was the pizza on the Radiance class ships.
Ports of Call:
On this 5 night cruise we spent the full day at sea. The weather was sunny and warm but VERY windy. Pool games by the cruise staff were fun and well attended.
The next day was Costa Maya. As we were just there in December while on the Explorer, I opted to just spend some time in the pier area and enjoy the pool while my group went on a tour of the Chacchoben ruins with David and Ivan which they enjoyed immensely. The weather was extremely hot, so after a swim in the pool we headed back to the ship to enjoy the solitude of the pool deck (and bar) and await the groups return from their excursion.
The next day was Cozumel. Again we were just there in December on the Explorer and I was surprised at how much rebuilding they were able to get done in such a short period. Most of the hotels are still heavily damaged and they’ve not even begun work on rebuilding any of the piers yet, but the downtown area has made a lot of progress. We anchored off the downtown area and our tenders took us right into downtown. The Navigator was also in port and used the tenders to the International Pier, while Princess and Carnival tendered to their old facility. It was nice being dropped off right downtown for a change. RCI hires the large 300 passenger tenders so the lines were never long and the process was extremely organized. We spent the day at Paradise Beach and enjoyed lunch and drinks on the beach. Paradise Beach is very nice and as long as you purchase food and/or drink the chairs, umbrellas and tables are free. If you want to use their kayaks, ocean trampolines and floating iceberg you pay $8.00 for all day use of these things. They also have a snorkeling excursion you can book while there. The 3 of us ate a plate of fish tacos and had a few margaritas and the check was only $45.00 for an excellent lunch served chair side on the beach. Not a bad day at all!!
The last day was a sea day, and this is where it turned ugly. A cold front had made it’s way down from Florida and we had cloudy skies, 40 – 60 knot winds across the bow and 15 foot seas for the entire ride back to Tampa. The Captain made an announcement that he was going to have to fire up all the engines in order for us to maintain the speed required to get us back on time.
We got back to Tampa around 6:30am, and they started calling the self assist group off around 8:00am. We had priority white tags and were called off next around 8:30- 8:45am. Custom’s was a breeze and all too soon we found ourselves outside on the sidewalk, wishing for another few days onboard this great ship.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.