Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Grandeur of the Seas - April 24, 2024

                                               Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Review 

Just the Facts:
Ship:  Grandeur of the Seas,  a Vision-class ship @ 73,000 GT and the oldest in the Royal Caribbean fleet launched in 1995
Ports: Tampa, FL - Grand Cayman Island - Cozumel, Mexico -- Tampa, FL

This is a quick five-day cruise from Tampa and I am sailing as a solo guest. This is the Granduer's first sailing since a recent dry dock update. This is my first cruise on the Grandeur of the Seas, my 36th Royal Caribbean cruise, and my 210th total cruise overall.  Just a quick get-a-way cruise on a unique ship.

Day One -- Wednesday --  April 24th, 2024 -- Port of Tampa  — Embarkation 
I was up early and finished packing by 9:00 am but didn’t leave the Villa until 11:00 am for the short drive to Tampa. I was soon parked on level 5 of the Channel Side Parking facility and walked across the street to the terminal (photo). I was behind the early initial early rush at the cruise terminal so very easy.  It was very well organized individuals on the floor checking guests with their mobile iPads (Same as the new RCL facility in Galveston. It was a very smooth process…I rolled on my bag as usual and was in my Cabin on deck 8 by 12:15 pm.  Amazing embarkation. I went one deck up to the Lido deck and the Windjammer before it got too busy. I had a nice Salad, Pork Cutlets, and Mashed Potatoes…very nice. I then went down to Deck 5 and checked into Muster Station number 6. Easy peasy.  I returned to the cabin to unpack, hang clothes, and set up the WiFi. It’s large for an interior cabin with ample storage and even a small couch.  This is the first sailing after dry dock so we are the first guests for a while and everything is fresh and clean.  Even the hangers in the closet were properly separated so the details were done well.  The internet worked well from my cabin location too (once I adjusted my settings).  I went up to the Solarium to make a telephone call home and had a nice Roast Beef sandwich from the late afternoon snack area. It was small but good with fresh roll and horseradish. We sailed away at about 4:10 pm and one forgets how big Tampa Bay actually is … it was hours before we sailed under the bridge. I went to the Schooner Bar for two very nice Cosmopolitan cocktails prepared by Wilson from Goa. Then I visited the Crown Lounge located in the South Pacific Lounge on deck 6 aft…they have a wonderful view of the aft wake. The Hors d’oeuvres were very nice, I sampled the Chicken tenders and enjoyed the view until dinner. I have late seating in the Great Gatsby Dining room (MDR) at Table 328 an 8-top. There were five solo guests this evening. The wait service was excellent and I ordered: the Tomato Soup, the Escargot, the Pasta Pomodoro entree, and a Key Lime Pie for dessert. All were good as were the table guests. I then retired to the cabin as it was a long, busy, and easy embarkation day.
Day One -- Thursday --  April 25th, 2024 -- Day at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I did wake in the early morning hours as is usual for me. We set our time back one hour to CST in anticipation of our port times. I updated the blog and then went to breakfast in the MDR at about 9:00 am. I was seated at an 8-top table with nice guests. I ordered Danish, fruit Plate, Eggs Benedict with sides of Hash Brown potatoes and nice crispy Bacon. I also had a Bloody Mary and we had a good breakfast and visit. I returned to the cabin and did some work online before going to the Centrum area to listen to music while my cabin was being cleaned.  The multi-deck Centrum is common on many new ships so the design of the Grandeur was somewhat ahead of its time.  After I returned to the cabin I had a delivery of both a Fruit Basket and a nice decorative sliced fresh fruit plate.  Very unusual that quite by chance it was my own MDR waiter Menandro who delivered it.  At about 3;15 pm I went up to the Park Cafe on Lido for another small Roast Beef sandwich and sat and enjoyed the ocean views. I was able to stream and watch today's live Texas Rangers baseball day game this afternoon too. It was a very restful day. I went to the Schooner Bar for cocktail hour then to the Crown Lounge to enjoy the sunset (photo) and additional cocktails. Not busy at the CL and I did sample the Fried Shrimp and the service was very good. Not crowded at the Great Gatsby as they opened a bit early and most guests knew their table assignments. There were four of us for dinner tonight and tonight's theme was classical French food. I ordered:  Escargots a la Bourguignon, Iceberg Wedge Salad, Beef Bourguignon, and Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Warm Apple Cobbler for dessert. It was good as was the service. There was a Broadway Production show tonight in the Theater although I retired after dinner. Early meet-up for the excursion tomorrow. It was a very nice sea day on the Grandeur of the Seas.

Day Four -- Saturday --  April 26th, 2024 -- Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Smooth seas overnight and I again slept very well. I was up early as I had an early meeting time for my excursion. At about 7:00 am I was at the Windjammer for breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, and Corned Beef Hash…it was good. I met my excursion, Pedro St. James Great House, Rum Tasting, and Cayman Crystal Caves at about 8:00 am in the Palladium Theater. We had a group of 21 in a small bus and as the only solo, I had the shotgun seat. The Government has encouraged more tourism on the eastern side of the island and these are two venues recently added for tourism. We drove about 30 minutes to the east end of the island and the recently opened Cayman Crystal Caves.  It was an extensive cave system, we visited two, the Roots cave and the larger Lake cave (photo). The paths and lighting in the caves were well done and it was uniquely interesting. It took them six years to clear the paths and prepare for guests and they did an excellent job in doing so. The next stop was at Pedro St. James the oldest established great house on the island. The Cayman government recently restored the property as a National Historical Site and opened it for tourism.  They have an excellent 3D movie presentation of the history of the house before you do the tour of the house itself.  It’s a three-story house built with thick walls and a 4x4 pattern to catch the sea breezes for cooling. Mahogany doorways & windows and restored with period furnishing. I was very impressed. The Grounds are very nice and include the outdoor Kitchen and Gardens   They have a very nice restaurant on site where we ate and had the Rum tasting. I ordered the best Hamburger ($20) I’ve had in a while and other guests said the Seafood entrees were very good. It was a very enjoyable tour (check the two links). We were also lucky to be the only ship in port today so travel was easier. I was back in my cabin just before 3:00 pm for needed rest. The new Zoom internet on board is excellent. At 5:00 pm I was able to watch my Sooners Softball Team vs. UCF. I streamed both the broadcast from ESPN+ and streamed the sound from the Sooner Sports Network.  Perfect and the Sooners won 10-2. The game ended just before my 8:00 pm dinner time. It was the Caribbean Night menu, my least favorite, but service is excellent in the MDR so always a nice dinner. I ordered the Coconut Shrimp and two entrees: the jerk Pork Chop and NY Strip Steak. For dessert the Pineapple Sunshine Cake. The Shrimp and Cake were excellent, the entrees not so much. I stopped at the R Bar in the Centrum for a cocktail and to pick up some Diet Coke for the cabin before retiring. It was a long but great day on the Grandeur of the Seas.
Day Four -- Saturday --  April 27th, 2024 -- Cozumel, Mexico
Smooth seas continued and I slept well. I woke in the night and updated this blog…too busy yesterday.  We have a late arrival into Cozumel so no rushing this morning.  I did go to the MDR for breakfast.  I had Danish, Fruit Plate, Eggs Benedict, Hash Browns, Bacon, and a glass of milk.  It was very good and I had a view of us sailing into the Strait of Cozumel. I had time to do some catch-up business online as we aren’t scheduled to dock until noon. At about 11:30 I went down to deck 2 as I anticipated an earlier gangway opening and yes they did, I was the first guest off the ship primarily because everyone in front of me didn’t have their sail cards ready. That was a first. I did the 15-minute walk over to Del Mar Latino Beach Club and settled into a lounge area. It was a beautiful day with enough clouds to cover the Sun most of the day and a nice sea breeze. I started with Coca-Cola and a dip in the pool to cool off from the walk. I monitored the OU softball game (ESPN+ doesn’t cover Mexico) and eventually switched to Mojitos. Jazzy kept the drinks coming as well as great snacks including: Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Chicken Nachos, Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp Cocktail, and Coconut Ice Creme. I casually walked back to the International Pier at about 5:00ish.  We don’t sail until 8:00 pm so not as busy a return to ship. After refreshing and rest I went to the R Bar for a frozen drink called a MasterCard. I had another as I watched Karaoke with a live band…interesting. I went to the MDR for dinner and it’s a Touch of Mexico theme tonight. I ordered the Escargot, Poblano Pepper Soup, Carne Asada, a Pulled Pork Enchilada, and a Flan for dessert. It was good, but a bit disappointing as I like proper Mexican food. I retired after dinner, I heard the Production Shows have been good, but just are appealing to me on this cruise. It was a great day in Cozumel today.
Day Five -- Sunday --  April 28, 2024 —Fun Day at Sea 
Some rolling seas overnight and I slept very well. We changed our clocks forward one hour so back to Florida time. At about 9:20 am I went down to the MDR for another nice breakfast. Danish, Tomato Juice, Fruit Plate, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, and Hot Milk. My televised softball game is early today with an 11:00 am start for OU and USF. Again great Voom WiFi on the ship and the Sooners won. I went up to the Windjammer for a nice lunch and noticed the ship rocking…then later that we sailed into some rainy weather. I made a trip to Guest Services then stayed in the Centrum to listen to the 5-piece Jazz Group. I had my Mastercard frozen drink then stayed for the Parade of Countries with Crew parading with flags from around the world. It was interesting and they seemed to have the world covered. At 7:15 pm I went to the Theater for the Farewell Show. It featured the 8-piece Orchestra (unique these days), the Magician, the featured Comedian, the Singers (4), and Dancers (8) with a farewell set, and various members of the Senior Staff and Crew. Since I had not seen a show I was able to catch them all at this one…Glad that I attended. That made me a little late for dinner, But I was the only one tonight so all fine.  It’s Italian theme night and I ordered: the Italian Minestrone Soup, Crispy Parmesan Arancini, Chicken Parmesan entree with extra Marinara, and the Artisan Cheese Plate for dessert.  It was good. After dinner, I retired to begin packing for tomorrow's departure.

Debarkation — Thursday -- April 29, 2024 -- Port of Tampa
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. I woke by 6:00 am to finish packing.  Debark began at 7:05 am and I was among the first off.  Facial recognition but only two stations.  Walked across the street to the parking garage and home by 8:30 am.  Easy.

HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruises
Pedro St. James Great House and Cayman Crystal Caves Excursion
Cozumel Port Day
Friendly Staff and Crew
Farewell Show
Cabin location

Observations about the Grandeur of the Seas
Smaller ship is easier to maneuver
Crew and Staff are excellent & Friendly
Rarely a long wait for elevators
Not many FOOD options


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