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Copyright © 1995-2005 
Linda Coffman

 

Grandeur of the Seas
Western Caribbean from Baltimore 
October 14-23, 2005

by Tammy Newcomer

My husband and I traveled with two other couples, all cruising for the first time. I am afraid to fly, so living in Pennsylvania and cruising out of Baltimore round trip was such a treat for me. We even got a free bus ride from our home town to the port, courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Once aboard, although I heard it was a smaller ship, we were all very impressed with how clean and beautiful it was. Our room was fine; we were on level 7, room 7569. No window, but we were hardly in our room. Too much fun on board. We requested this room because it was close to the library, which has nice leather chairs and a balcony “free of charge” that we frequented. The Centrum, the shops, the casino, solarium (great burgers and fries), and Gatsby dining room were awesome. We loved the sauna and hot tubs too; overall this ship is like an adult’s amusement park! We noticed some kids on board; however, they were kept busy most of the time in RCCL’s kids’ area near the top of the ship. Karaoke Idol was a fun time and the Love and Marriage Game was a blast too! 

Although Hurricane Wilma was hot on our tails once we were down in the Caribbean, we had great weather and beat the storm. Captain Haakan was great and provided us info to keep us informed. He said he’d never let us get less than 200 miles from Wilma, and he did a great job. While other cruise lines were skipping Cozumel, he took us there, but cut it short by a few hours. We were about a day ahead of Wilma, but on the way out of Cozumel that evening there were 13-20 feet swales, and some rocking was going on board. But it was bearable and short lived. The captain told us by midnight we’d see relief from that and he was right.

Of all ports, Coco Cay Bahamas, the island RCCL owns, was the greatest! White beaches, free BBQ lunch, beautiful blue water, and my husband enjoyed the wave runner tour very much. The drink CoCoLoCo was awesome, and I am not a big drinker. Key West, was great too. Cozumel was neat since it was the first time my husband and I were out of the USA. We bought a little jewelry, but I must say how much it made me appreciate being an American. You really feel pressure from shop workers to come in their shop. Some people are very poor, especially when you walk on some back streets behind the Forum Shops. Everything is negotiable price wise. Port Canaveral was okay. Freeport, Grand Bahamas was a disappointment; we’d probably stay on the ship next time. 

Service was awesome and I am a stickler on that. Our room attendant, Adan was great, and very attentive. We enjoyed our nightly towel animal and our next day’s agenda with activities and info. Our Dining Experience at Great Gatsby was awesome. We had a wonderful waiter Vladimir from Bulgaria and awesome assistant waiter Sebastian from Chile. We all were sad to leave them that last night, they made us feel welcome, attended to our needs, and made us feel “royal” as the brand name suggests. We were not into a “stuffy” environment, so they kept it light, yet professional based on their assessment of what we wanted. They did some magic tricks for us, and we got 2 bread baskets and butter dishes to avoid bread and butter disputes as Sebastian put it. He realized we liked the bread a lot (and we did). One night it was so funny when Vladimir put the word “pass” on a plate with icing and gave to one of our friends at the table (since the friend said he “passed” on dessert). The dining staff put on shows and seeing all the different world cultures working together in harmony really opened our eyes to a more worldly view, versus a USA view on everything. Sebastian’s especially pleasant attitude and gratitude toward the great workplace RCCL is (as he told us), really made us feel good to be on the cruise with staff such as him and others we encountered.

Other meals: For breakfast, if you are up early enough we recommend you go to Great Gatsby dining room. There are no long lines as there are in the Windjammer for omelets or fried eggs (and sometimes hard to find seats inside or outside there). Lunch, the Solarium for burgers/fries or pizza and hotdogs or Windjammer for salads and sandwiches and carved meats. Food was great, our Chef was from Austria, we met him the night of the Grand Midnight Buffet (don’t miss this beautiful and tasty event). Now we have to go on major diets. There are low fat options, but when you see the other great food, you will lose your willpower.

We will definitely cruise again, and more than likely RCCL. We’d like to try an eastern Caribbean cruise, once again from a port we can drive to. We were told they may move the Baltimore port from Dundalk to 5 minutes from inner harbor (that would be great!). From first time cruisers, we can tell you how “Grand” the Grandeur of the Seas is. Consider this ship!


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