We took a week long cruise on Grandeur of the Seas to Bermuda sailing out of Baltimore. Built in 1996, this is one of the oldest of the Royal Caribbean ships and it definitely shows. It feels small and cramped and the decor is dated but certainly not disgusting. They do a good job of keeping the ship clean. Being so old, it is also likely that this ship lacks stabilizers as we discovered late one night when we were awoken by a terrifying rocking of the ship that lasted more than a day and was so intense that the staff had placed barf bags along all the stairways. Also, sailing for a week on this ship was unbelievably boring but the the three days in Bermuda made it all worth it.
GETTING THERE AND EMBARKATION
South Locust Point Cruise Terminal
2001 East McComas Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Boarding at this port was the easiest and most efficient boarding process we have ever experienced. Be sure to print out all your boarding information and luggage tags before you get to the port. The Royal Caribbean website is easy to use and you’ll be sent email reminders about printing out the necessary paperwork to expedite the boarding process.
When you drive into the port, employees will be standing in the parking lot directing you where to go. It’s like a long drive-thru process and if you haven’t brought your paperwork or luggage tags, you have to pull over to a designated spot and the employees will give you the required paperwork/luggage tags. You continue moving through the long drive-thru and near the end, employees will collect your luggage so that it can be delivered to your stateroom.
Lastly, you pay for parking and the cash line is normally shorter. It is $15 per day. Once you’ve done this, you are told where to park your car and then you can walk into the building to complete the boarding process which includes going through security like at an airport except it’s quicker. Then after handing over the remainder of your paperwork and showing your ID, you’re given your SeaPass Card and can walk onto the ship.
Most people eat lunch first. There are always free beverages available at the buffet including water, tea, lemonade, and a fruity type drink that almost tastes like Crystal Light. We didn’t know this and so we bought the drink packages which we ended up not needing since we usually only drink water or tea anyways.
Royal Caribbean has touchscreens all over the ship that help you find your way around, but I have always found it helpful to make my own little guide card where I write what is on every deck from FRONT TO BACK of ship. This is the guide card I made for Grandeur of the Seas.
Deck 4 – Internet, R Bar, Library, Centrum, Main Dining Room
Deck 5 – Palladium Theatre, Casino, Guest Services, My Time Dining Room
Deck 6 – Palladium Balcony, Shops, Photo Gallery, Cafe Latte-Tudes, Art Gallery, Chops Grille, Giovani’s Table, Schooner Bar, South Pacific Lounge
Deck 9 – Windjammer Cafe, Pools, Park Cafe, Spa, Gym
Deck 10 – Observatory, Kids Stuff, Running Track, Rock Climbing Wall
Deck 11 – Viking Crown Lounge, Izumi entrance
APPEARANCE OF THE SHIP AND OTHER PASSENGERS
The ship is one of the oldest of the Royal Caribbean fleet and it looks and feels very old fashioned. It went to dry dock in 2012 but it doesn’t appear to have made a noticeable difference. Being so old means the ship is also very small and we definitely felt cramped and couldn’t wait until we arrived in Bermuda so we could get off the ship.
Most of the others passengers were over 65 and either in wheelchairs or walkers but this is the norm for any cruise with a duration of seven days or more. We never saw that many young children but their were some families with high school aged children as well as couples without kids.
We prefer inside cabins because we don’t spend too much time in the room, however the inside cabin on Grandeur of the Seas was the smallest we have ever seen and we would never book it again.
The worst part was the bathroom. My husband is 6’5″ and he didn’t even fit in there. There is only enough bathroom space to turn around and nothing more. A side step to the right and you bang into the toilet. A side step to the left and you are in the shower.
The shower had the most ridiculous design and was so incredibly uncomfortable that we dreaded using it. It’s simply a curtain that you close in the corner of the bathroom and again, there’s no room to move and if you try to move, you’ll bang your elbow into a metal bar. To make matters worse, the water was always far too hot and would not cool down.
Storage space in the room was minimal and the hairdryer was of poor quality.
Before your cruise begins, you can use the Royal Caribbean website to purchase drink packages and your drink cups will be in your stateroom when you arrive. Drink packages can also be purchased the first day of the cruise. There are 3 Coca-Cola drink machines on the ship – 2 at the buffet and 1 near Cafe Latte-Tudes. During our cruise, the machine near Cafe Latte-Tudes was out of order which was annoying. You can also go to any bar to get a soda. Just show them your SeaPass Card because on the bottom corner is a little symbol showing which package you have. DON’T EVER TIP FOR A DRINK because that is included in the cost of your package. You can’t use your drink package for room service. Those drinks are an additional cost.
With your drink package, you can also get beverages in the main dining room each evening but it’s a hassle. The servers never offer to get you a drink. You need to ask for it and the servers will ask to see your card every night even though you have the same servers each night. Then you’ll have to wait about 25 minutes for your drink to arrive.
I got the Royal Refreshment Package which is for sodas only and the cost is $6.50 per day. My husband got the Royal Replenish Package which is soda, juice, premium coffee and tea, bottled water, and non-alcoholic cocktails. The cost is $19 per day. At least one person in your party should get the Royal Replenishment Package because the bottled water really comes in handy throughout the cruise. Just go up to any bar, show them your room card and ask for bottled water. They’ll give you 2 at a time. Go to another bar and get 2 more. Collect these water bottles and take them with you to Bermuda. To get our moneys worth for my husband’s more expensive drink package, we always made sure to get a daiquiri every time we passed a bar and we always shared it. There are also more expensive packages for those who like alcohol.
GRATUITIES AND SERVICE
Standard Stateroom are charged $13.50 per person per day and Suite Staterooms are charged $16.50 per person per day. You can prepay this amount before your cruise starts or pay it at the end of the cruise. We prepaid and found that it was the worst service we have ever experienced on a cruise. We didn’t know if it was because service is always abysmal on this ship or because we had prepaid and thus, the servers felt no effort was necessary. The dining room staff was absolutely substandard. For example, they never offered us a beverage with our meal and when we asked for one, them seemed annoyed. If they happened to bring water, they would fill my glass but not my husbands so we had to flag them down to rectify the situation. The dining experience was dreadful because of the servers.
Our stateroom host, however, was wonderfully friendly and did an excellent job of keeping our room squeaky clean. His was the only proper service we received throughout the entire cruise.
Food is not as plentiful on Grandeur of the Seas as it is on other cruise lines. There are a few places that offer food but they are only open for a few hours each day so you have to know exactly where to go to get something to eat. We found ourselves feeling quite hungry on several occasions and had to wait until one of the food venues opened. Not only was food limited, but it was also not very appetizing. It was difficult to find food that we could eat because of my IBS and my husband’s aversion to certain textures. In comparison, on a Disney Cruise there’s a myriad of food options available throughout the day that are tasty and satisfying so our disappointment with Royal Caribbean food is not because we are too picky.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served here and the food was of decent quality and there were some new options everyday. The buffet is set up with separate islands that you can move around so there was never a need to wait in a long line. Water, juice, tea, and flavored water are available for free if you don’t have a drink package.
Hamburgers and toppings, hot dogs, vegetables.
Salad bar and fruit. Don’t take fruit onto Bermuda. People at the port will yell at you to remove fruit from your bag.
MAIN DINING ROOM
My time dining and traditional seating can both booked booked online before your cruise begins. If you book online, you can still change your reservation time in person by going to the 2nd floor of the main dining room and talking with the dining host. He was always very accommodating when we asked to move our time. We chose My Time Dining not only because of the time flexibility but also because we we able to have a table to ourselves every night. Traditional dining involves sitting at a large table with a bunch of strangers.
The downstairs dining room is reserved for Traditional Dining and at dinner time a large line forms outside the dining room. If you have selected My Time Dining, your dining room is upstairs so don’t wait in the long line. Just head upstairs to be seated.
We were very disappointed in the main dining room that featured menu items, the majority of which, we would not eat. Some of the desserts were supposed to be made featuring a touch of alcohol but instead tasted like they were made with the entire bottle thus rendering them inedible. Plus, service was abysmal. Eating dinner here every night became boring.
New England Clam Chowder.
Since we couldn’t eat any of the entrees on the regular menu, we instead ordered the sirloin steak every night which is part of the everyday offerings menu. The meat was a bit chewy but had a decent flavor and the vegetables were very fresh. My husband ordered his with a substitute of fries and I had the baked potato that came with it.
LUNCH IN THE MAIN DINING ROOM
Table service is offered for lunch but the menu has limited options. On our first visit here we ordered hamburgers but the patties were full of onion chunks which we don’t care for. On further visits, there was nothing on the menu we would eat so we simply ate from the salad bar.
The staff will hand make your salad. Simply tell them what you would like in it from the selection in front of you.
We ordered dessert from the menu and the chocolate raspberry cream cake was the only dessert I liked during the entire cruise. Sadly, it was never offered again anywhere else.
The menu was minuscule and the food was of below average quality. When ordering on the phone we found the staff to be rude and completely unwilling to accommodate our simple request for a bowl of grapes instead of the entire fruit plate.
Hours are 7-9am for breakfast/ 11-6pm for sandwiches, pastries, salads/ 11pm-2am for hot dogs, nachos, and desserts. Collect the bags of chips they serve here to take with you to Bermuda.
The snack area here had the absolute worst staff. They were unfriendly and acted like the were constantly having the worst day of their life. Not only was the service wretched, but we found that in this area of the ship, fellow cruisers completely lack basic manners. On one occasion a man cut in front of me when I had been waiting in line for 10 minutes and when I told him he couldn’t, he proceeded to argue with me. Needless to say, since I was really hungry, that was not an argument he won.
Coffee type drink and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are available for a fee but the baked goods are complimentary.
Although the bakery items look appealing, the usually were dry and lacked flavor since the had been sitting out all day.
It didn’t seem like there was a great interest in these restaurants because most days employees were walking around the ship handing out coupons to these restaurants, especially for Izumi.
Royal Caribbean offers group excursions that you can book on their website before your cruise but we decided to navigate the island on our own which turned out to be remarkably easy and cheaper than booking a cruise excursion. For example, we took a cheap bus ride to Horseshoe Bay and stayed for as long as we wanted. The Royal Caribbean excursion to Horseshoe Bay would have cost $39.75 per person with a duration of only 4 hours.
There are pink information buildings in all the touristy areas of Bermuda and you can go in here to ask questions about how to get around. They will tell you the best way to get to your destination (ferry, bus, taxi, walking) and you can buy the passes for the ferry and bus here as well. These places are sort of like a concierge at a hotel. We knew the places we wanted to visit and they told us what to do to get to each place. It was so easy!
We were more drawn to the culture and history of Bermuda so we chose 3 different things to do. 1.) Horseshoe Bay which is famous for its pink sand beach. 2.) St. Peter’s Church which is the oldest Protestant church in the world still being used today and behind it is a slave cemetery that most people accidentally overlook. 3.) The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo. 4.) The Bermudian Heritage Museum. (For a detailed review about our excursions, click here.)
When leaving the ship for Bermuda, you can check out towels from the ship for free but if you fail to return them, you’ll be charged $25 per towel.
This ship docks in Bermuda for 3 nights and you can come and go as you please including staying overnight at a hotel on the island. On the last night in Bermuda, you must be aboard by 5:30pm.
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS
My husband was very disappointed that there wasn’t a sports bar onboard and it was very frustrating to him that nowhere on the ship was showing the important games. Also, wireless internet was very slow and most web pages wouldn’t open which was ridiculous since we had paid a lot for it. And the TV had poor reception and we could only get a few channels.
During the day the pool is always crowded and it’s impossible to get a chair since the staff do nothing to keep people from chair hogging.
Some games are held here such as World’s Sexiest Man where men have to do embarrassing things such as dance for old ladies. We also saw a water volleyball game between the staff and random people.
The Belly Flop Contest drew a crowd.
In the evening they play movies under the stars. The chairs are usually wet but lay some pool towels on your chair to eliminate that and get an extra to use as a blanket because it can get a little chilly.
Even though there are speakers around the pool deck, it is sometimes hard to hear the movie because teenagers hang out in the 2 hot tubs by the screen and are loud and annoying.
The indoor pool is always packed during the day and the heat inside is stifling but in the evening you’ll have the place all to yourself. The pool was too chilly for us to get into but we did get into one of the hot tubs. There are two hot tubs but one was broken.
The Theater has Broadway style shows that are poor quality but a decent way to kill time. Movies are also shown here and one afternoon we saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The screen is smaller than you would expect and the audio was very loud.
There are dance parties in the afternoon and evening in the main atrium. This picture shows people doing the Macarena.
This dance party had an optional all white dress code. During these events, there were always hilarious drunk people to watch.
The Art Auction only draws a small crowd but those who sign up to participate get free champagne.
Bingo is played here but the entertainment staff does a terrible job and it is not fun or entertaining in the least. On a Disney Cruise, for example, when you are one number away from Bingo, they have you stand up and do a little shimmy to some music. On Royal Caribbean, when you stand up, people actually boo you.
You can sign up to do Karaoke with a live band. This is held in the atrium so everyone on the ship will hear you singing.
A Battle of the Sexes Game took place once during the cruise and was really funny. In this picture, the participants – a team of 2 ladies, and a team of 2 men, had to race to see who could pop a balloon first using their bodies only. The two ladies chose to pop their balloon by placing it between them- booty to stomach. The two men did the same but when it didn’t work, the man sat in the chair with the balloon on his lap and made the other guy sit on his lap, bouncing up and down until the balloon popped.
On the last night of the cruise there was an aerial show in the atrium but if you’ve ever been to a Cirque du Soleil Show, you’ll think the one by Royal Caribbean is weak and amateur. You’ll need to show up early if you want to stand somewhere that has a good view.
SENSES SPA AND FITNESS
This was the easiest disembarkation we have ever experienced. We chose the walk off option which means you skip breakfast and walk off the ship with your luggage as soon as the ship docks. You have to go through customs which includes handing them some paperwork you filled out ahead of time about what items you may have purchased while in Bermuda. Then you are free to go. The process could not have been faster!