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Royal Caribbean's smallest ship: What it's like to sail on Grandeur of the Seas

22 Dec 2023
Angie Vognild

This past fall I decided to sail on Grandeur of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's oldest cruise ship. While our sailing was quick, it was the perfect amount of time to explore this “well-seasoned” cruise ship. 

Grandeur of the Seas Review

Before boarding Grandeur of the Seas, I anticipated the ship was going to be in rough shape. I was imagining rust in every corner, worn-out furniture, and retro decor. After all, Grandeur was rated the worst Royal Caribbean ship in the fleet, according to U.S. News and World Report.

However, once I stepped foot on the ship, I was pleasantly surprised at how well-maintained Grandeur was!

Overview of Grandeur of the Seas

Lady G, as many cruisers call Grandeur of the Seas, debuted in December 1996. In fact, she is older than me!

With a length of 916 feet, guest capacity of 2,440, and gross tonnage of 73,817, Grandeur of the Seas is the smallest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. Originally, she was not the first Vision Class ship (Splendor of the Seas and Legend of the Seas were built first and then sold to Marella Cruises), but now she is considered the oldest Vision Class ship.

In 2012, Grandeur of the Seas underwent a $48 million revitalization where many new venues were added, such as Giovanni’s, Chops, Izumi, and loyalty lounges, as well as new furniture/carpet and technology upgrades like ship-wide Wi-Fi.

In October 2019, it was announced that Grandeur of the Seas was going to be leaving Royal Caribbean. However, the pandemic and financial struggles of Pullmantur Cruises stopped these plans in August 2020. Since then, Grandeur has continued offering sailings primarily around the Caribbean.

Embarkation and disembarkation in Tampa

For this sailing, my sister Allie and I cruised in and out of Tampa, Florida. The day before our cruise, we flew into town and stayed at the hotel that connects to the airport: Tampa Airport Marriott. It was convenient to stay here because we arrived late in the evening and didn't have to travel far to our hotel from the airport.

On the day of the cruise, I ordered an Uber ride for us to the port. The 10-mile ride to Port Tampa Bay only took 20 minutes, and we were dropped off right by the port entrance. 

I hadn't cruised out of Port Tampa Bay since January 2020, so I forgot what the embarkation process was like. Also at that time, my parents and I drove to the port, so that was a whole different embarkation experience.

Allie and I arrived at the port at noon for our check-in time. Since we only packed carry-on suitcases, we did not have to worry about dropping off our luggage with the porters. 

Port Tampa Bay is a small port compared to others I have been to (like Port Everglades and Port Miami), though I felt like the check-in process was the same amount of time as a larger port. However, it was nice that it wasn't super busy or crowded. 

Something abnormal happened when we tried to scan our SetSail passes: My sister was dinged for not checking in ahead of time. When this happened, we had to go to one of the counters and get a credit card added to her account before we could get on the ship. This set us back about 15 minutes. This is a good reminder for everyone - do not forget to complete the check-in process ahead of arriving at the terminal!

Read more: Guide to cruises from Tampa

Interior guarantee cabin

Once we were onboard Grandeur of the Seas, we made our way to our cabin to drop off our belongings. 

During our four-night sailing, we stayed in an interior guarantee cabin. Because it’s a guarantee cabin, we were not able to select the location of the cabin. We were assigned a cabin on deck three at the very front of the ship.

I am not a fan of staying in cabins that are in the very front of the ship because they tend to have more movement than cabins in the middle of the ship. Luckily, we had smooth sailings and I rarely felt movement while in the cabin!

Cabin 3505, which was 142 square feet, was much bigger than I was expecting. Everything appeared to be in good condition, including the couch, vanity, and carpet. I was afraid the bed wouldn't be comfortable because of its age, but I actually slept well every night, especially when we separated the beds.

There was more than enough storage in the cabin. I really liked the large drawers under the TV - I find that drawers on other Royal Caribbean ships are half the size. Another thing to note was that our cabin did not have a mini cooler for drinks or snacks.

My least favorite part of this cabin was the shower. While the rest of the bathroom was fine, the small shower was uncomfortable. I could hardly move because of the odd shape of the shower, and the clingy curtain didn't help! This was a first for me on a Royal Caribbean cruise because normally there are sliding doors rather than curtains.

Other than that, the cabin was perfectly fine for our quick cruise. We didn't spend much time in the cabin anyway.

Read more: 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

Dining options

Grandeur of the Seas has a few options to grab something to eat or enjoy a meal with friends and family, including:

  • The Great Gatsby Main Dining Room
  • Cafe Latte-tudes
  • Windjammer Marketplace
  • Park Cafe
  • Specialty restaurants Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi, and Chef’s Table

On the first night of our cruise, my sister and I splurged on dinner at Giovanni’s Table, the specialty Italian restaurant onboard. We love Italian food, and we wanted to take advantage of our BOGO Diamond Plus offer. Our meal was excellent! I loved the tagliatelle carbonara, chicken piccata, and tiramisu.  

On the remaining nights, we dined in the Main Dining Room. Honestly, I enjoyed the food each night in the dining room. The themed meals we had were for A Taste of the Caribbean, A Taste of Italy, and A Taste of Mexico. The service was quick and our waiters were on top of it!

One morning, we had breakfast in the Main Dining Room. We wanted to sit at a table for two, but instead, we were sat at a large table with other people since tables of two were full. This was fine of course, but I found that the food took longer because we had to wait for everyone’s food to come at the same time.

I was shocked when I stumbled upon Park Cafe in the Solarium; I didn’t expect to see it on this ship! I was happy to see there was another quick-casual, complimentary place to eat. I got pizza here some days and I thought it was quite tasty! Also, I went to Cafe Latte-tudes every day to get Starbucks drinks. This venue had free snack options throughout the day, too.

Read more: I’ve sailed on all of Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships. Here’s why I don't mind sailing on these small ships

Entertainment and activities

Grandeur of the Seas does not have all the attractions of other Royal Caribbean ships, like a Flowrider, waterslides, ice skating, and bumper cars. Rather, she offers theatre productions, trivia, and other activities. The most thrilling feature of Grandeur of the Seas is the rock climbing wall at the back of the ship. There's also a main pool and hot tubs.

During our sailing, we saw three shows in the Palladium Theatre, including a comedian, an impressionist, and a production show, Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme. This production show was also on Voyager of the Seas when I sailed in September. I thought every ship had a unique show but I guess that is not the case! 

All of these shows were very entertaining and fun to watch. I always like to see the entertainment on cruises, no matter what the act is. We never had trouble finding seats in the theatre. 

There were many classic Royal Caribbean activities offered during the cruise, like the sexiest man competition, Love and Marriage, belly flop contest, karaoke, headphone disco, and several game shows. 

Something that I noticed about many of these activities, even the more adult-themed events, was that young children would participate in them sometimes. I believe this was the case because of the lack of onboard thrills offered on this ship for younger passengers.

On the sea days (and even while we were docked in Cozumel), we chose to relax in the Solarium, Centrum, or loyalty lounge. As you can see, the general theme of this cruise was about relaxing! It was a nice change of pace to not feel pressured to go to every single event offered onboard. It was lovely to relax and enjoy a drink among our fellow cruisers.

My overall thoughts on Grandeur of the Seas

While Grandeur of Seas lacks some modern amenities, she makes up for it with the more intimate atmosphere she offers guests. 

The staff onboard Grandeur of the Seas are wonderful. Even with My Time Dining in the Main Dining Room, we were able to, by request, sit in the same section every night to have the same waitstaff. We really enjoyed their service! A larger ship would probably not be as willing to accommodate us. 

Even though Grandeur is almost 30 years old, I think she is in great condition - truly much better than I expected. 

I believe a cruise on Grandeur of the Seas would be fun during a port-intensive itinerary that visits unique destinations. This is definitely a benefit of sailing on a small ship: You will be able to visit more exotic places.

My advice is to not avoid this ship solely because of some negative reviews online. Go and experience the cruise ship for yourself before you make a judgment. 

Before booking a cruise on Grandeur of the Seas (or any Vision Class ship for that matter), it’s important to understand that while there are fewer thrills, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy your vacation. You will also not have to worry about dealing with large crowds or getting lost trying to maneuver the ship.

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