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I booked the smallest and cheapest room on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas. It was only 142 square feet, but I'd stay in it again

13 Oct 2023
Allie Hubers

I took a quick, 4-night weekend getaway cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, which is the oldest ship in the cruise line’s fleet. Debuting in 1996, this Vision-class cruise ship is nearly 26 years old!

My sister and I booked the smallest and cheapest room available onboard Grandeur of the Seas to stick to our travel budget. We always like to save money when we can, so we tend to book the cheapest cabins onboard.

Like most cruises, the cheapest cabin available for this itinerary was an inside stateroom guarantee. Inside cabins have no windows or natural light, but still provide everything needed for a comfortable say. With a guarantee cabin, you cannot choose the location of your stateroom onboard. This often means staying in less desirable locations, typically in the front or back of the ship. 

Read moreInside cabin vs. balcony room on a cruise ship

My sister and I had been looking for a weekend cruise to take this fall together, so we were excited to find a cheap sailing from Tampa, Florida. I had never cruised from Tampa before, although I reside in Florida, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit the city. 

Given the ship’s age, we were not entirely sure what to expect onboard. Needless to say, we set our expectations pretty low about the entire cruise experience so we wouldn’t be disappointed. Of course, age is but a number if a ship is well maintained and refurbished from time to time.

The affordable price was the biggest draw for us to book this sailing, costing just $466 each. This 4-night itinerary featured two sea days, along with one day in Cozumel, Mexico. This price included gratuities, taxes and fees. Therefore, we each paid about $116 per day for this sailing, which felt reasonable considering we booked only the cruise two months ago.  

Our inside cabin was only 142 square feet, but I wouldn’t hesitate to book the same stateroom again on a Vision Class ship. Here’s what our cheap and small cabin looked like on Grandeur of the Seas. 

While Royal Caribbean is known for building the biggest and most innovative cruise ships in the world, Grandeur of the Seas is far from big or innovative

Instead, Royal Caribbean’s smallest cruise ship offers a completely different vacation than anything shown in the cruise line’s marketing material. 

You won’t find waterslides, zip lines or surf simulators on the top deck of Grandeur of the Seas. Rather, you can enjoy beautiful ocean views with plenty of places to relax around the small ship. Grandeur of the Seas represents a more traditional era of cruising before ships became floating mega-resorts.  

I love all kinds of cruising, so I was excited to step back in time onboard Grandeur of the Seas for a more low-key Royal Caribbean experience. Because there was less to do onboard, we ended up spending more time in our cabin than we normally do. With two sea days, it was fairly hot and humid to be on the outside decks, so we enjoyed retreating to our air conditioned inside cabin throughout the day.  

For this sailing, we were assigned cabin 3505 on Deck 3. As expected, our cabin was located at the very front of the ship

Since this sailing was short, we really did not care about the location of our stateroom. We anticipated that we would be assigned a cabin at the front or back of the ship, as these are often the cabins that people do not want to book. When you book a guarantee cabin, you get assigned the leftover staterooms. 

Read moreThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

We were not surprised to find that our cabin was located at the very front of the ship. We were nearly the last row of inside staterooms while walking towards the front of the ship. The hallway had an interesting design as we approached the front of the ship, with a zig-zag hallway leading to our cabin. 

It’s been a while since I’ve stayed on a cabin located as low as deck 3! This made for easy access to the ship’s main atrium, which starts on Deck 4. I particularly appreciated the quick access to Cafe Latitudes in the morning, as I love a warm latte to start my day. 

Grandeur of the Seas also represents a time where many ships were built with more inside and outside cabins than balcony cabins; as such, there were very few balconies available to book onboard. 

On this small cruise ship, there are around 1,000 cabins onboard for guests to book and 780 of these are inside or outside cabins. There are only 95 suites and 122 balconies available. So, if you’re planning to sail on Grandeur of the Seas - or any other Vision-class ship - you will likely end up in either an inside or outside cabin like us. 

To our surprise, the inside cabin was in fairly good condition and the stateroom felt bigger than we anticipated

Once we boarded Grandeur of the Seas, we made our way to our cabin to unload our bags and check out our home-away-from-home for the next four nights. Since the ship was very old, we did not have high expectations for the condition of the stateroom. I anticipated a lot of rust, along with worn down furniture and an outdated bathroom.

After weaving towards the front of the ship, we found cabin 3505. At just 142 square feet, this cabin is on the smaller side for inside staterooms. For comparison, Royal Caribbean’s new Odyssey of the Seas has inside staterooms around 185 square feet in size. 

Regardless, our inside cabin on Grandeur of the Seas felt bigger than we had expected. We had a king bed at the back of the cabin, although we ended up separating the beds after one evening. While I prefer having the beds together, my sister insisted on separating the bed into the twin beds configuration after the first night. 

I will admit, it was difficult navigating around the side of the beds when they were configured together as a king bed. Once we separated the beds, we were able to navigate easier and the room felt more spacious. 

The bed was very comfortable. I was worried the mattress would feel over used given the ship’s age, but the beds seemed to be in good condition. Everything was clean as well. 

Next to the bed, we each had a small nightstand to use. These nightstands felt larger than a typical cabin nightstand, which we appreciated!

Behind the bed, we had two small lights that we used in the evening before bedtime. I wish these lamps had USB plugs for us to use, but we made do.

Adjacent to the bed was a small loveseat for additional seating in the cabin. I always appreciate having another place to sit other than the beds in a cabin. If you’re like us, this additional seating also becomes additional storage!

The cabin also featured a vanity with drawers for storage, along with a small TV and a safe to use during the cruise

As with most cruise cabins, we had a vanity space surrounded by drawers and shelving. The mirror was also illuminated with a bright light, which I use to get ready each day.

The sides of the mirror also opened for additional shelving. This was one area of the cabin where you could really see the wear and tear. This was simply cosmetic, but the hinges looked pretty rusted out and worn down. 

The drawers were quite large on the right side of the vanity - I was actually able to unpack my entire suitcase into these three drawers. We did not even use the space above the TV, although having ample storage would be necessary for a longer itinerary. 

We also noted that our cabin did not have a mini fridge, which is typically standard for most cabins these days. It would have been nice to keep our bottled water cool in a fridge, as this was a hot and humid sailing to Mexico!

As with most older ships, we had limited outlets to use for charging devices

Older cruise ships will only feature one or two outlets for you to use in your cabin. Newer ships have implemented charging strips with multiple outlets and USB ports to use, which is a welcomed change. To make sure I have enough ports to charge everything, I always bring a USB adapter to plug into the European outlets in my cabin.

This cruise I was a little scatterbrained - and unfortunately forgot to pack this. I also forgot to pack my portable charger, so I was struggling with just one outlet. 

My sister and I shared the two outlets during our cruise, so we had to be purposeful with our charging. Every time we left the room, we made sure to charge something for later. I did remember to grab my extra long phone charger, which was useful to charge my phone while using it in bed. 

The closet had ample space to unpack with hangers and drawers

While unpacking, we had more space for storage than we needed for this quick sailing. My sister and I both traveled with just carry-on luggage, so we did not have much to unpack. I ended up using the vanity drawers, so my sister used the closet space. She was able to hang everything up and we ended had extra space to store our luggage in the closet.

The closet came with a few hangers, although you might be needing more depending on how long your cruise is. The closet also featured more drawers rather than shelving, which was notable. Overall, we had plenty of space to unpack and store our things.

Our cabin was located next to noisy neighbors, and we could often hear them talking in the morning and late at night

The crowd onboard our sailing was there to have a good time! I can’t tell you how many bachelorette and bachelor parties we saw during our cruise, along with friend groups and family reunions sailing together.

As such, the sailing was not a quiet one! The hallways were buzzing with people ready to party. We could hear the cabin next to us whenever they were in the room - it felt as though we could hear their entire conversation. While we did not have much foot traffic at the very front of the ship, it still felt like we could hear plenty of noise. Luckily, I never forget to bring my earplugs when I cruise and this helped me sleep each night. 

One of the biggest surprises in our inside cabin was the condition of the bathroom, which we expected to be very outdated

After looking around the cabin, we decided to check out the bathroom. Typically on older ships, the bathrooms feel very outdated in terms of design and decor. In the spring, I sailed on one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s oldest ships, Norwegian Sun, and our bathroom was lime green colored! Last summer, our cabin on the oldest Carnival ship - Carnival Ecstasy - had bright blue, squishy flooring. In fact, the bathroom's toilet was also so close to the wall that we nearly had to sit sideways. 

Needless to say, we had low expectations for the condition of our bathroom for an old ship. I was expecting outdated decor, poor design and lots of rust.

To our surprise, the bathroom was much better than we anticipated and must have been refurbished in the recent decade. The vanity had light woodwork, which accented the white flooring and walls. There was a colorful backsplash behind the sink as well, which was a fun addition. 

Noticeably, we didn’t have much counter space or storage in the bathroom. Between the two of us, we filled up the bathroom counter quickly with our cosmetics. 

While the bathroom was better than anticipated, the shower was one of the worst I’ve had on a cruise ship

A cruise ship shower is normally nothing to write home about. Older ships tend to feature small, cramped showers - which are anything but luxurious. It’s not uncommon to have a capsule shower with either a dingy shower curtain or a space-pod type of plastic door. 

Luckily, newer cruise ships have redesigned bathroom spaces with larger showers, which really makes a big difference in the cruise showering experience. 

The shower was oddly shaped, almost like a trapezoid.  The worst part of the experience was the shower curtain, which would cling to us while showering. This made the tiny space feel even smaller! If you tried to push the curtain away, you had to deal with dripping water all over the bottom of the bathroom floor. 

I’ll admit that I don’t go on cruises to have a spectacular showering experience and I realize it is a small (maybe even silly) thing to complain about. But, it is a daily activity that we did not enjoy on Grandeur of the Seas. Also, if you had to bathe your kids, I can imagine it would be a nightmare experience in this cabin! 

Because of our loyalty status, we were also able to request upgraded toiletries for our sailing

When cruising with Royal Caribbean in a standard cabin, you will typically only find a 2-in-1 mystery liquid in your cabin - it’s advertised as ‘double duty’ shampoo and body wash. This soap leaves my hair feeling dried out normally, so I usually pack my own shampoo and conditioner when I cruise. I am fine using the provided mystery liquid as body wash, but having conditioner and better shampoo is a must. 

My sister informed me on this cruise that we can request exclusive toiletries onboard because of our Diamond + status. I had completely forgotten about this amenity, so we requested the upgraded toiletries from our stateroom attendant. After returning to the cabin on our first evening, these were provided for us to use! We loved having higher quality toiletries during our sailing. 

Overall, this inside cabin was comfortable during our short cruise on Grandeur of the Seas - and I would book it again!

Because this cruise was only four nights, this cheap and small inside cabin was perfect for us. Inside cabins have everything needed for a comfortable stay, especially during a short itinerary. I had set my expectations low for this cabin considering the ship’s age; to our surprise, it was better than expected. 

While the cabin was understandably outdated, I found the stateroom to be in similar condition to cabins onboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager-class ships and Radiance-class ships. I’ve recently sailed on both of these ship classes, and our cabin on Grandeur of the Seas was very similar to my staterooms on Jewel of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. 

I would absolutely book another inside cabin onboard Grandeur of the Seas. With very few balconies and suites to book anyway, most guests will find themselves in an inside or outside cabin onboard as well. Even though the room was quite small at 142 square feet, the stateroom become a cozy place to return to each evening. 

Allie Hubers has been cruising since she was a tiny toddler. What started as a yearly vacation with family quickly turned into a passion for travel, cruising and adventure. Allie's been on nearly 30 cruises all over the world. She even studied abroad on Semester at Sea, sailing the world on a ship while taking courses for college and visiting 4 continents.

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