We just got back from a 9-night Canada/New England cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore.
Thought I'd pass along a few observations; the Grandeur now leaves out of Locust Point Terminal, which is much easier for those south of Baltimore and is much nicer than the old terminal. This made it very nice for us as we left our house at 1:00pm (near Dulles Airport) and arrived at the pier at 2:00 to find absolutely no lines whatsoever.
The Grandeur was refurbished earlier this year - it was in bad need of refurbishment and has changed alot since our last trip on her two years ago. They replaced all the carpet, painted, etc. They also replaced the beds, but they are still not very comfortable - heard that complaint many times.
The food has improved a little, but not very much. It use to be bad, now all our meals were just 'okay' - nothing worth writing about one way or the other except to say they were disappointing. Perhaps our expectations for RCCL was higher, but it appears they have declined overall in the last couple of years. We heard many complaints about the food. Room service has gotten worse since our last cruise on the Grandeur and is not only very limited in the choices, but the food was not very good.
The service was 'okay' - again, nothing bad, but then it wasn't as good as it could be or should be for RCCL.
Overall, the ship, the food, and the service was rather bland compared to the other cruises we've taken. The shows were good, comedians were good, and the other acts were good. The TV shows were terrible and very poor selection - many repeats, old shows, and often poor reception.
The only saving grace was the itinerary. We had not thought about doing a Canada/New England cruise, but when this opportunity came up, we decided to give it a try. It was wonderful and I highly recommend it to those who haven't done it. We went to Bar Harbor, Halifax, Saint John, Portland, and Boston.
In Bar Harbor, we purchased a trolley tour for $29 that took us around the area and up to Cadillac Mountain - absolutely beautiful! Would love to spend some time in this area.
Then it was on to Halifax where we did a tour of the Alexander Keith's brewery. We were awarded our Bachelor of Beer Arts degree following completion of a very interesting course in beer. And all the free samples were highly welcomed! We were then taken to the Citadel, which was equally as interesting.
In Saint John we were given a free shore excursion of our choice. We chose the wine tasting and lunch at a local restaurant that was great. Then 6 of us hailed a van and were given a quick tour of the city with a stop at the Reversing Falls.
In Portland, six of us rented a van and drove up to Freeport to shop the L.L. Bean flagship store as well as other stores. Then we drove south and went to Kennebunkport for lunch and shopping. We stopped by the Bush's estate and took the obligatory pictures.
In Boston, we took a trolley around the town ($28 per person) and got off at several stops to see Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, etc. Took about 4 hours with all the sightseeing around the city and was very interesting and educational.
I would definitely recommend the itinerary, but I am still not impressed with this ship. This is our third time on the Grandeur and we were hoping that things had changed following a much needed refurbishment. Although the ship's appearance is much nicer and we like the size and layout of the ship, we were still not very impressed with the food and service. This ship is also about 11 years old and the cabins are very small. A junior suite on this ship is about the same size as a regular balcony cabin on the new ships, with the inside cabins being ridiculously small. I would recommend the Explorer of the Seas out of New York if anyone is interested in this itinerary.
The one thing that we really liked was that they offered Self-Assist for those wanting to take off their own luggage. These people do not have to wait for all the luggage to be off-loaded so they can disembark much sooner than everyone else. We arrived at the pier at 7:00am this morning and they started calling the Self-Assist numbers by 7:30am. We were off the ship by 7:45am and home by 8:45am, so that was wonderful.
My comparisons are obviously subjective, but they are based on what we've experienced on 29 cruises with all the major cruise lines and a total of 25 days on this ship. In fact, this year we've been on the Crown Princess, the Liberty of the Seas, the Holland America Zaandam, and the Grandeur of the Seas. Of all these ships, the Grandeur was definitely our least favorite ship. And because it is currently the only ship going out of Baltimore, they are getting much higher fares than this ship should demand.
Send me an email or give me a call if you'd like additional information on the ship or any of the ports we visited.