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Cruise Ship Review
Grandeur of the Seas
By
Jean Haka

Grandeur of the Seas Eastern Caribbean Cruise May 3, 1997

Grandeur of the Seas

The Grandeur of the Seas was our fifth cruise, the last being on NCL's Norway five years ago. (Previous to this we had also cruised on Princess, Carnival and a French cruise line.) THIS TIME, however, we were cruising as a family -- this included my husband and myself and our two children -- a son age 11 years and a daughter age 7 years. Prior to this cruise I was hesitant about several things that had hindered me from booking Royal Caribbean prior to this trip, but sooooo many well-traveled people sang the praises of RCI that I figured they couldn't ALL be wrong!

The Ship -- The Grandeur of the Seas is a beautiful ship--casual elegance, I call it. Light streams into every deck and into every public area (except the Palladium theater). It is extremely well laid out and convenient.

One thing that always concerned me was how "high" RCI's ships rode in the water. I felt that they'd be rocky and tippy in rougher seas. Have no fear!!!!! This ship road so smoothly that much of the time we had to concentrate on the fact that we were actually moving! The Captain told us that only 25 feet of ship (did he mean 25 meters?) actually sits in the water and that even he was initially concerned, but that on the trip over from Europe, they encountered some very heavy seas and she rode beautifully!

I won't go into detail about the layout of the ship -- please see the other reviews in the SeaLetter for that. I was most impressed with the general feeling of great roominess and the seating capacity of the public areas. The large show room/theater, The Palladium, had soft "sofa-like" seating with a drink holder for each seat. And the secondary show room, The South Pacific Lounge, was as large as most other ships' main show room!

There were an abundance of elevators at mid, forward and aft-ship that were fast and efficient! (Making it easy for handicapped/wheelchair passengers to get around.) The use of wood and art on the ship was wonderful - everyday we noticed something new or different. Everywhere you went there are very tastefully decorated sitting areas with very comfortable seating and views of the ocean, both inside and out -- exactly what I want to look at when I'm at sea.

Also, I was concerned about whether or not, with almost 2000 people on board, would I have to stand in long lines and be herded around like one of 2000 people? Have no fear! You don't feel like there are 2000 much less 200 people on board. With the excellent layout of the ship and traffic patterns, the wide variety of entertainment areas and the excellent planning we never felt crowded or like one of the crowd!

The Staterooms --The staterooms were done in a beautiful light peachy color and are extremely light, airy and well laid out. Everywhere possible there was a storage area, dresser, drawers, vanity or closet and of course the 4 (2 up & 2 down) berths. Even with four people in our larger inside stateroom (Category K), we had plenty of space to store or hang all our clothing and to "hide" the suitcases for the entire trip. We even had a small table and chair in the room! We did notice the rooms with the verandah across the hall from us, and I have to admit that even though they were larger -- square footage wise -- they didn't seem much roomier than our inside room. I also caught a glimpse of the "regular" inside staterooms (for 2 people) and it was basically what you'd expect a stateroom to be -- small! I wouldn't want to do 4 people in it, but it would be fine for 2 people.

Another fact that I enjoyed about the staterooms were the many mirrors and the extremely well placed and abundant lighting. A fact that we appreciated was that we were on deck 7. I would recommend this deck or #8 to anyone -- as it was handy to either go up a floor or two or down a couple and be close to all the action. Our tablemates had a room over one of the lounges and could hear music until the early AM, so always be aware of what is next, over and under you when booking a room. We had no complaints of noise -- never heard anyone next, above or below us at all. Again, another of my fears was laid to rest as I had always heard that RCI ships had small staterooms -- not the case with their new line of Vision class ships.

 

The Food -- I have never been on a ship that had such a visible head chef or such a beautiful main Midnight Buffet. The dining room is again one of the best laid out and most beautiful I have ever seen -- after being in it three times I noticed the waterfall on the farthest wall -- take note of it behind the grand piano when you get on the ship! We had a table of eight (with another family) and could hold pleasant conversations across the table without shouting. All the typical theme nights were addressed and our kids took the opportunity to try snails, salmon, cold soup, squid and of course lobster! All the bakery and rolls were delicious. We had some wonderful soups and some of their salad dressings were outstanding!

Of course the service was excellent--even with four kids at our table! (Our waiter and assistant even pleaded with us to come down for breakfast in the morning so they could serve us!) I was a little disappointed overall with the total quality of the main courses. I have to admit, looking back, that I just never had that memorable meal that lingers on my taste buds. But then again, I never had anything close to a bad meal either and when one considers that the kitchen is cooking for 90-some nationalities among the crew and 50-some nationalities among the passengers -- well I think that they're doing a darn good job. Also, a 3-piece ensemble would go around from table to table during the meal and play music, another nice touch!

We enjoyed breakfast and noon lunch buffets in the Windjammer Cafe. Again the room is surrounded with windows and beautiful views of the ocean. We did notice that one morning (2nd to last) they were cooking omelets to order in the Windjammer. We appreciated the self-serve coffee, water (hot & cold) and ice tea counter that was open all day long. We also figured out how to eat as much as you want on a cruise and NOT gain any weight -- always take the stairs or as my husband called them the "stairmaster"!

Daytime Activities and Entertainment -- One thing that I have always liked about cruising is that things are planned ahead, organized and then flow relatively smoothly! I have to admit that RCI has taken this concept and elevated it to an art form! Of course, every night the "Cruise Compass" would arrive with the schedule of activities for the next day. Fear not - -there was always plenty to do -- so much so that I had to plan for my tanning time!

I thought the entertainment was wonderful on our other cruises but RCI really uses all their show rooms and lounges to the utmost! The entertainment on the Grandeur of the Seas has to be the best of any ship at sea today! Maybe we were lucky, but to us it was just great. RCI had entertainers coming and going at every port it seemed. We enjoyed the singing of Sweet Louie and were thrilled to have Wild and Haines on board with their juggling and comedy. The one production show that they did was wonderful, too! The best parts were the "other" entertainment venues -- don't miss Novel Quest, the Newly and Not-so-Newly Wed game and the various theme nights were fun, too. We almost died laughing at Karaoke and to comedian Don Ware. We lost some money at bingo and enjoyed a drink in the Schooner Bar listening to Anthony & Dorsett. We'd shop in the ship's boutiques as everyday they seemed to have a different feature item(s) and visited the casino, too.

During the day the steel drum/reggae band would play at the pool. Speaking of pools - -the Grandeur of the Seas has 2 main pools and 6 whirlpools. One pool and 4 whirlpools at the main pool area mid-ship and the beautiful Solarium pool and 2 whirlpools more aft -- both on the same deck, which was nice. Our family settled in nicely at the Solarium pool -- even the kids liked this one better. The area was beautiful and had the moving roof that could be closed if it got rainy or too windy. One day the roof was closed and it was very HOT in the entire Solarium area -- we complained to the bartender and sure enough -- a little later the Captain, in his daily noontime address, brought up the request, but to no avail -- after all it is a solarium and it's supposed to be hot! 'Enuf said -- so we moved.

We also found out that RCI has a policy of not saving deck chairs etc. We really enjoyed this feature as it turned over the deck chairs in a timely manner. We never had a problem getting a deck chair, just as we never had a problem finding a waiter when we wanted a drink. I also had a mini-facial (sales pitch) and massage in the Solarium spa. I was pleased with both, but if you want the choicest times, book 2-3 days ahead of time.

Kid's Programs -- One of the main reasons we picked RCI and Grandeur of the Seas was for the kid's programs -- we were not disappointed. First of all, the kids have their own activity space/rooms way up high (beautiful views) and at one end of the ship. The Ocean Club is bright with ball pits and all sorts of climbing tunnels etc. in it -- a child's dream. The teen's club has funky furniture, foos ball, big-screen TV, a dance floor with in-house cameras and a bank of monitors and the coolest, most fun, energetic counselors that you could hope for. The one thing that really hit me when we initially walked onto the ship (besides from that beautiful atrium area) was the fact that one of the kid's counselors was standing there to greet the kids and told them to come up to the kid's area that night and gave them their very own Kid's Cruise Compass for that day!!!! WOW! They already were loving the cruise experience and they hadn't even been on the ship for 30 seconds!

We were told that there were about 60 kids on the ship for our sailing, but that at Easter week there were 300 or 400 kids on the ship! WOW! After a few days, our kids got a "real feel" for the ship and we'd go for hours without seeing them. At night we'd be at the show and look down and low and behold there were our kids sitting in the front row! They had a fantastic time and we never worried about them or for their security while on board as we felt that they were under constant observation by all crew members and staff. Everyone catered to the kids and they enjoyed being able to pick and choose their entertainment that they wanted to see and we never worried because it was all appropriate for them, too. (What isn't recommended for kids is so stated in the Cruise Compass.) The kids enjoyed their own "Coke cards" as we called them. On their very own boarding cards you can buy a sticker ($15/7 days) that allows them to get a soft drink at any bar any time and as much as they want.

I guess the "proof of the pudding" so to speak came on our first night home. I was tucking the kids into bed and they were a bit weepy because "they missed the ship, and their bunk beds and their friends on the ship and there was no Midnight Buffet at home!" I guess we'll have to cruise again on the Grandeur of the Seas, if nothing else but for the midnight buffet!

I also want to make a special note of the wonderful cruise staff (whenever do they sleep?) and the most visible captain of any cruise I've been on -- Captain Swenson. It was a joy to listen to him every noon (he'd give a little talk telling us the weather and our position) and at the Welcome Aboard and Farewell show. Even the maintenance crew seemed genuinely glad to have you on board. With attitudes like that you can't go wrong cruising on the Grandeur of the Seas!


Photographs used in this article were provided by Sharon Jackson and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.


Jean Haka is a flight attendant for a major airline and can be reached at: 104400.3311@compuserve.com.


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