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  1. UPDATED 28 September 2021 (updated prices in the parking comparison spreadsheet) Construction of Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Terminal is in progress, with completion planned in time for the arrival of Allure of the Seas on 13 Nov 2022. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 11th busiest in the world. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: (this is a fluid situation and dates may not be accurate) Independence of the Seas - 154,407 GT, 3,858 Passengers - 7 night sailings, followed by 4-5 night sailings (Beginning 15 Aug 2021. Repositions to Port Canaveral 29 Oct 2021.) Allure of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Arrives 13 Nov 2022 from Ft. Lauderdale) Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Resumes 3 Oct 2021. Repositions to Fort Lauderdale on 30 Oct 2022) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 29 Oct 2021. Repositions to Cape Liberty 29 Apr 2022. Returns to Galveston 27 Oct 2022.) Grandeur of the Seas - 73,817 GT - 1,992 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 4 May 2022 and repositions to Miami 2 Nov 2022) Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers Carnival Breeze - 130,000 GT - 3,690 Passengers Disney Wonder - Nov/Dec/Jan holiday sailings each year Cruise Terminal 1, which serves mainly Carnival, is the largest single-berth cruise facility in the world at over 257,000 square feet. Cruise Terminal 2 which currently serves Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney, was expanded in 2017 to accommodate larger (Freedom Class) cruise ships. Planning & Tourist Info You can't beat this website for information on everything that is happening in Galveston: www.galveston.com Transportation Fly into HOU (Houston Hobby Airport) if you can. It's much closer to Galveston than IAH (Bush Intercontinental Airport) and you won't have the Houston traffic to deal with. Tip: HOU is a large hub for Southwest Airlines. They often don't show up on the travel booking sites so you need to book at www.southwest.com. You can't beat their "bags fly free" policy and "no change fees". Here are some options for getting to Galveston from the airport: Galveston Limo - provides very affordable shared rides from the two Houston airports with either their scheduled service (8 trips per day) or you can arrange a private car. Currently the pricing for the scheduled service from Hobby Airport to Galveston is $25/person one way if you book online. Owned by a local family of good folks. Galveston Express - Their pricing starts at $30/person each way. Lyft and Uber - Lyft and Uber now operate in Galveston. Lyft has a contract with the Port of Galveston to bring passengers to and from the cruise terminals. Uber has chosen not to sign a contract with the Port, but can still operate in other areas of Galveston. Enterprise Rent A Car - Enterprise is the only rental car company on the island. You should be able to rent from Enterprise at the airport and drop it off on the Island. The Island location is open on Saturday, and before cruises shut down it was also open on Sunday, so you can drop off on the weekends as well as weekdays. Check with Enterprise directly for updated hours and shuttle arrangements. Arriving By Car I-45 is undergoing several phases of construction that will continue through 2022 and beyond. TxDOT is widening I-45 all the way to Galveston Island. I-45 south ends on Galveston Island. When arriving on the island, if you turn off at the "Cruise Terminal" exit (Harborside Drive) you will hit a traffic back-up as you approach the cruise terminals. To avoid this traffic jam, as you drive down I-45 and arrive on the Island, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends and follow these directions: Continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends. Continue to 23rd street and turn left. Follow 23rd and it will dead end at the entrance to the cruise terminals. This route will avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive. As you enter the Cruise Terminal area, turn left to bypass the Carnival Cruise drop-off area, then you will see your Royal Caribbean ship at Terminal 2. Drop your luggage with the porters, and then proceed to your parking location. It is highly recommended that you drop your luggage at the terminal before parking. This prevents you from lugging all of those suitcases on and off of a shuttle bus. Parking If you search "Galveston cruise parking" you will see plenty of parking options. I highly recommend making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor or garage space as these will sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you a 5-10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Things to consider in addition to price: Elevation - heavy rains can quickly flood the streets of Galveston, and not just during a hurricane. Leaving your car in an elevated spot will provide peace of mind against flooding if an unexpected storm comes in. Walk or Shuttle? - most parking lots have shuttle service, but some offer "park & walk" for a discount (shuttle companies have to pay a fee to the Port of Galveston for each trip). Walking to and from the terminal avoids waiting on crowded shuttles and can be an enjoyable stroll if the weather is nice. But heat, humidity, and rain can make the savings of a few dollars seem insignificant. I like to drop off the family and luggage at the terminal, then go park the car and walk back to the terminal, but occasionally I have to wait for the rain to pass or put up with a hot/humid walk. Garage, Inside, or Outdoor Lot? - outdoor surface lots are cheaper, but your car is exposed to the south Texas sun and weather. A building provides better protection and security. The parking garage provides protection, security, and gets you elevated and safe from almost any flooding. Discounts & Loyalty - there are extra savings if you sign up for these programs online and reserve after your account is tagged with the applicable discount. You can combine loyalty and one discount but you can't have multiple discounts. Security - all parking is at least fenced and gated. The buildings are enclosed and locked. Some facilities have security cameras. The Port of Galveston claims that the Port Police patrol their lots 24/7 which you won't find at the private parking lots. Electric Vehicle Charging - more and more lots are offering EV chargers. If you drive an EV like I do, you will appreciate having your car fully charged when you disembark. This perk is currently free at all parking facilities where it is offered. Remember that even a 110 volt plug will fully charge your car over the course of several days. Here is my comparison of some of the parking options. I have parked at all of these except Falstaff. Hotels There are a couple of hotels near the port and the historic Strand District in Galveston. It's a great idea to arrive a day or two early and enjoy the island ambiance. The Harbor House is very convenient to the ship and to many nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. Caution: Our room had a smell of mildew when we stayed here in May 2021, so if that bothers you I'd suggest choosing another hotel. The Tremont House is also very walkable to the Strand, the Port and nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. This is my preferred pre-cruise hotel. They offer cruise parking (for a fee) which includes shuttle service to the ships at their sister property, the Hotel Galvez, when you stay at least one night at either hotel (call to confirm details). The Tremont House is located in a beautiful historic building. The Tremont's rooftop bar has wonderful views of the island and port area. The lobby bar has live jazz on most Friday and Saturday nights. There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico. Hotels providing transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options can be found here. Call the hotel that you are interested in to confirm that they provide cruise parking. Galveston has a wide range of hotel prices depending on day of week (weekends obviously much higher), whether there are major events happening, and the season (summer is the busy season here). Booking hotels during Mardi Gras (February), Lone Star Biker Rally (early November), Art Walk (every 6 weeks) and other major events will be much more expensive. Some hotels have a 2 night minimum on weekends. Galveston Dining (And A Few Drinking Establishments) Please avoid the tourist traps and chain restaurants that will leave you disappointed. Eat at these locally owned restaurants that use locally sourced, fresh food, including fresh Gulf seafood right from the docks in Galveston. All restaurants are casual dress unless noted, and all are family friendly (even most of the bars). Many serve craft beer on tap from Galveston Island Brewing. My only connection to these places is that I have personally eaten at them multiple times and I love them all! Rudy and Paco - 2028 Post Office St (21st and Post Office) - Arguably the best restaurant on the island. Wonderful food with a South and Central American flair. Best service on the island. A little expensive but worth it. We like going for lunch because it's very affordable (lunch served weekdays only). No shorts allowed at dinner. Reservations suggested and are a must on weekends or when The 1890 Grand Theater has an event. Riondo's Ristorante - 2328 Strand (24th and Strand) - Our favorite Italian restaurant on the island, and they also serve great seafood and steak. Beautiful historic building built in 1895 in the Strand Historic District. "Farm to Fork" sourcing and they make their own pasta. Tell them you "want a table in the vault." Katie's Seafood House - 2000 Wharf Road (On the water, adjacent to the Port of Galveston) - This new restaurant opened in mid-2019 and is the only restaurant in Galveston that catches their own seafood! Great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. Cafe at the Tremont House - 2300 Ships Mechanic Row (Mechanic Street) - Beautiful historic hotel built in 1879 near the Strand Historic District. Enter the main entrance, up a few stairs, and the cafe is just off the lobby to the right. Nice salads, flatbread pizzas, Panini served in a casual atmosphere. Most weekend evenings there is live jazz in the lobby, which is why we go here (in addition to the good food and casual, historic atmosphere). There is a beautiful bar at the opposite end of the lobby with several Galveston Brewing options on tap. Before or after dinner, take the elevator to the top floor, turn left, and walk to the end of the hall to the rooftop bar to cap off the experience. Eatcetera - 408 25th Street - Lunch only (until 4 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. Vegan and gluten free options available. Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers (try the "Mission From God"), fresh made chips (try them with Buffalo Sauce & Bleu Cheese), local fish tacos, salads, etc. Texas Tail Distillery - New larger location at 2416 Post Office - On-site distillery for whiskey and vodka. Try the honey whiskey and other infusions. Friendly staff, fun place to try crafted drinks with local liquor, or try them all with a flight of shots! New: food is now served on site! Blvd. Seafood - 28th and Seawall - One of the best seafood restaurants on the island. There isn't a lot of curb appeal outside but the inside is very nice. The food and service are both quite good and the seafood is all local. The red snapper is amazing and always comes fresh from Katie's Seafood Market. Grotto Italian - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Classic Italian restaurant featuring delicious veal, chicken, seafood, pizza, and house made pastas. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we tried it again in February 2020 and are convinced it's a great option. Blake's Bistro - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Great burgers, gumbo, seafood. Overlooks the resort pool and the Gulf of Mexico. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we gave it several tries in February 2020 and added it to the list. The Cove Poolside Bar - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Beautiful outdoor poolside bar with a swim-up bar too, all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The pool is heated so expect swimmers even in cool weather. Great place to people watch and enjoy a drink with one of the most picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico on the island. Gypsy Joynt - 2711 Market Street - Funky family-run spot with great comfort food. Excellent pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Breads/buns baked fresh multiple times per day. Casual, funky atmosphere. A little off the beaten path but definitely one of my favorite casual places for lunch or dinner. Maceo's Spice & Import Company - 2706 Market Street - Excellent muffaletta's, sandwiches. Simple menu to eat in or carry out in this little spice shop across the street from Gypsy Joynt. Hey Mikey's Ice Cream - 2120 Post Office Street - Ice cream is made in the store. Unique treats like Ice Cream Nachos (share with a friend) and traditional favorites. You gotta' go here! Note: this place is owned by a nice island family. It is sometimes closed over the winter holidays. Mod Coffeehouse - 2126 Post Office Street - comfortable with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music many weekend evenings. Coffee, tea, espresso, latte, home baked goods. Jimmy's On The Pier - 9001 Seawall - On the 2nd story above the fishing pier (enter the souvenir shop, exit to the left, and up the stairs). Very casual with great views of the seawall and Gulf. Owner has their own farm and livestock for a true "farm to table" concept; other items locally sourced. Fish tacos, burgers, seafood, local beer, full bar, etc. Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza and Italian - 416 21st Street - This is the place for pizza. They also have nice Italian dishes. Convenient to the Post Office Street Arts District for a nice after-dinner stroll. Embarkation Experience Protocols will be changing regularly until we get through the Covid craziness, but here is what we experienced in late August, 2021. Check-in times are being enforced. We had the 1st check-in time at 1:00 pm and were allowed some flexibility. They allowed Pinnacles and Suites into the terminal around 12:15 pm. The 1:00 pm people (first check-in time) were admitted around 12:30 pm. People with later check-in times were lined up outside in organized lines marked with the later check-in times. Once inside, there are several lines. Lines to the left are for vaccinated passengers. If you have unvaccinated passengers in your group (i.e. kids) they direct you to a special line all the way to the right. The purpose of the first checkpoint is to make sure you have 1) proof of vaccination 2) proof of negative Covid test 3) passport or other citizenship documents 4) boarding pass The next checkpoint is the scan for weapons/liquor. Your carry-on luggage goes through the scanner and you walk through the metal detector. If they discover liquor or prohibited items, there is a table right behind security where those items are dealt with. If you have an unvaccinated child that needs their pre-boarding Covid test, that happens next. Following this, you walk into the next room where you do the actual cruise check-in. There are quite a few check-in stations and this process takes quite a bit longer that pre-pandemic. This is where they take a photo of your vaccination card, verify your negative Covid test, check your passport or other citizenship documents, issue your wrist band showing you are vaccinated, and take your photo if you failed to upload it before the cruise. We observed that if you had completed all the online checkin steps, had your documents in hand and ready, and generally had your act together then things went much quicker. After checking in, you take the escalator or elevator upstairs to the waiting area. With the check-in times being spaced out and enforced, there isn't much waiting. You will likely move directly toward the ship. The final checkpoint is completed in the upstairs waiting area where they scan your SetSail Pass and check your proof of vaccination for the third time. After this you walk to the gangway and directly to the ship! Disembarkation Experience After having your SeaPass Card scanned, you disembark the ship, walk down the enclosed gangway, and walk down several long ramps to get to the ground floor. Just inside the luggage hall is the new facial recognition area that replaces your discussion with a Customs and Border Protection officer. You are directed to remove your facemask, look toward the facial scanner, and immediately (if all is well) you are cleared to proceed. It was interesting to see about a dozen CBP and police officers behind this area just observing the process. This is an incredible improvement to the old system of waiting for a face-to-face discussion with a CBP officer and it was a big time saver. The next step is to claim your luggage and proceed to the terminal exit. Just before exiting the terminal you will be asked by a State Agent whether you are bringing back alcohol or cigarettes (see the next section for details). Bringing Back Liquor & Cigarettes If you sail from the Port of Galveston, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has agents sitting at a table after you clear Immigration. They will ask you if you are bringing back any alcohol or cigarettes. If so, you will need to pay the state tax for importing them into the state, whether they are purchased in the ship's duty free store or in a foreign port of call. Although Texas state tax is due, these items are still exempt of any Federal duty. The law limits personal importation by an adult to once every 30 days with limits of 1 gallon of distilled spirits, 3 gallons of wine, and 288 ounces of malt beverages (24 12-ounce containers). Tax due for a 750ml bottle of wine is $3.25, for a 750ml bottle of distilled spirits is $3.50. These rates include a $3.00 "administrative fee". Cigarette tax is $1.50/pack or $15.00/carton. Other tax rates are available online. You can pay with a credit card and they will give you a receipt and a sticker to place on the bottle. Failure to pay the tax and obtain the appropriate stamp will subject violators to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. Galveston Webcams Galveston has some great webcams. If you want to see what the cruise port looks like, or if your friends and family want to watch you sail away on Royal Caribbean via several live full-motion HD video cameras, go here (they have a pretty big following when ships are arriving and departing the port). There are several Carnival ships here as well, and they often block the view of the Royal Caribbean ships when they are alongside the dock. Cruise ships can be seen on the Cruise Cam, Strand Cam, Marina Cam, and Emerald Cam.
  2. Does anyone else think Grandeur may never sail again? I'm booked on her final sailing next March, but I fear with the Pullmantur bankruptcy and the expected staggered restart of cruising that she might not come back for those last 6 months at all. Tell me I'm crazy! ? ? ?
  3. I haven't seen a lot of Grandeur (or Vision class) in the live blog section so I've decided to do this recap blog from my trip nine moths ago. I sailed on Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore at the end of August 2017. This would be my 3rd cruise with Royal so I was gold level in the Crown and Anchor Society. This would be my first solo cruise with Royal and with the double C&A points for cruising solo it would be my platinum cruise. Itinerary: Day 1 - Depart Baltimore Day 2 - Sea Day Day 3 - Bermuda Day 4 - Bermuda Day 5 - Sea Day Day 6 - Nassau Day 7 - Cococay Day 8 - Sea Day Day 9 - Sea Day Day 10 - Disembark Baltimore I booked a guarantee inside cabin and was assigned cabin 2053 a few days after booking. Flying in the day before I stayed at a hotel close to BWI airport that had a free airport shuttle and took Lyft over to the cruise terminal in the morning. Lyft was $15.
  4. I am hoping for some information. I heard that Grandeur's casino doesn't open on the first night when leaving Baltimore and closes the last day at 4. I have been on a cruise out of Baltimore on another line and their casino was open. Is this true? If so, my husband is NOT going to be happy. Any information would be appreciated!
  5. Does the spa on Grandeur have smoothies? I heard Allure had this when I sailed in April and we could have used the Refreshment package to get them. But I didn't think of that during that trip. So I'm wondering if this just exists on larger ships.
  6. I am not going to promise lengthy entries but I will try and provide some daily observations. 5 night Bermuda cruise. Deluxe drink packages for both of us and also Ultimate Dining Packages. We were able to have lunch at Chops on embark day using our UDP. While there, (BTW we were the only ones in the restaurant until just minutes before we left when 1 other couple came in. It was a wonderful “private” lunch) the maiter’d made all of the specialty dining reservations for us for the rest of the cruise. Very nice. Good news for Sweety - they still have red velvet cake at Chops on Lady G ! Yippee. Dan and I shared a slice. More than that would have been decadence and an obvious exercise of “cruise privilege”. I’ve already reported the delay in leaving port (5 PM vs 4 PM) due to Fleet Week activities. Cruise Director is Bob Leininger. I don’t know yet who the AM is. Will report if/when I find out Capt is Thordur Thorsson. We’ve sailed with him many time. Very good Capt HD is Adriana Tibaudo. Don’t recall her name so no opinion yet Diamond Concierge is Carlington Berry. We’ve had him as our Concierge before. Suites/D+ Concierge is Francis Calimag. While the casino is officially closed tonite (til we get out of Chesapeake Bay) there are “free” slot and BJ tournaments at 8 PM tonite First time I’ve seen this. I guess they will just be for “fun”. The casino hostess (Joyce Ndubane) was the asst casino hostess on our Liberty cruise last month. Near the end of that cruise, she left Liberty and we knew she was coming to Grandeur so it will be nice to see her again so soon. Dan’s suitcase has not yet been delivered. He is already gun shy since Liberty lost our luggage last month (never been recovered, either) so he’s a little “concerned “. Actually , he’s napping at the moment so I guess he’s not THAT worried. The planes have quit zooming overhead so I guess his interest has waned. More later if anything of interest pops up.
  7. Just saw a Tweet from James Van Fleet ..... The September 8th sailing (tomorrow) is now going to Nassau instead of Bermuda for the 5-nighter.
  8. I'm on the 9 night New England\Canada Cruise out of Baltimore on the Grandeur next month. My mother and I fly in (separately) early in the morning (around 7:30 am). According to the website, the cruise terminal opens at 8:00 am, but is it frowned upon to arrive way earlier than your assigned window (Set Sail pass says 11:30)? We are planning to either Uber or taxi, and wouldn't mind getting a bite to eat first, but we'll have all of our luggage in tow. So right now I'm thinking that we retrieve our bags, get a quick bite at a place that is outside of security, then head to the cruise terminal, but I'm guessing it still would be a couple of hours before our assigned window. Will this be a problem?
  9. Hi everyone! My husband and I are trying to decide which cruise to take this summer (July) and would love any help in the decision. The three choices: 1) Anthem OTS- 9 night Bermuda- only 1 day in Bermuda, then off to San Juan, St. Marteen, and Labadee. 2) Grandeur OTS- 9 night Bermuda- overnight in Bermuda, then off to Nassau and Cococay 3) Freedom OTS- 7 night Southern Caribbean- St. Marteen, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Johns, and Barbados. Other information: * We love Anthem, but will be doing the Bahamas itinerary in just a few weeks in April. *We haven't been to Bermuda or St. Lucia and both are appealing to us to visit. *I am not sure if we would regret not having more time in Bermuda on Grandeur if we went on Anthem. *I'm not sure if the Southern Caribbean itinerary will be unbearable weatherwise. We did Greece last year and Italy the year before and survived :) The Freedom itinerary has the most adventure of them all. *We are diamond members, but would likely be staying in a balcony for anthem and possible grandeur and a suite for Freedom. As you can see, I am quite conflicted! Any recommendations or feedback would be great. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! :)
  10. Booked a Royal Family 2 bedroom suite (now called 2 bedroom Grand Suite) on Grandeur. Does anyone have any photos of the AFT suites...either 8584 or 8084? I saw one youtube video but wanted to also get thoughts on suite perks....reserved seating, concierge lounge, etc?
  11. Very interesting conversation going on within the Grandeur of the Seas fan page .... Apparently some folks are being charged Sales Tax on drinks purchased while in the Chesapeake Bay (in Maryland and Virginia). And yet, I've never paid sales tax on either one of my past cruises on Grandeur. The only common denominator that I've been able to figure out is that those that pre-purchase a drink package won't be charged the tax since the act of purchasing is occurring in a different state, however, those that purchase their drinks a la carte style will be charged sales tax while in the Chesapeake Bay. Can anyone provide any insight into this? Is it true/false? Have you seen this? My wife and I always get the combo package (drink and voom) so apparently this doesn't apply to us (I guess this makes one more reason why a drink package makes sense). Mark
  12. When I went on to look at the pricing for my already-booked cruises, I found that the cost of the 3 night dining package on my April 8, 2018 Grandeur sailing has gone up by $10. The price I paid a number of weeks ago for this package was $75/pp. Today's website shows a price of $85/pp for this 3 night package. I don't know if the price has increased for any of the other packages or not. We were only interested in the 3 night package so I don't know what the cost for the others had been in the past.
  13. Has anyone stayed in Cabin 7144 on the Grandeur of the Seas or one in a similar location? It's a Superior Ocean View with Balcony and we were assigned this cabin a few weeks ago after we booked a balcony guarantee in October. We'll be in it for our 9 day next month, and I'm really curious since it's all the way aft, but not directly a rear stateroom. It's the last balcony cabin in that side, but also has a connecting door to the next cabin. From some pics I can see, it looks like it's an unshared balcony, but then others it looks like that very last balcony is perhaps a "false" balcony and we're really in the next one over, which is shared. It's no big deal of course, and I'm just excited to finally have a balcony, but it has just piqued my interest to find out. I'd also love to know if we'll be able to see any of the wake of the boat like those lucky true aft cabins. (Not being an experienced cruiser, I don't know how much wake the boat puts off from the side or if it's contained completely behind the boat?) Thanks all!
  14. Never were truer words spoken than what I typed in the title ...... My wife, Tyna, and I did the exact same cruise last week, that we did last year --- A 5-nighter to Bermuda, in September, on Grandeur OTS out of Baltimore. Expecting the same experience as last year was our first mistake -- even though the ship, cabin, itinerary were identical, the cruise experience was completely different, yet, so much fun..... First off, I must give a "Shout Out" to the Cruise Maryland staff ...... We pulled in the parking lot at about 9:45 and were on the ship by 10:45 ..... had our first Bloody Mary in hand by 11:00 ---- The perfect way to start and enjoy our "Breakfast of Champions" Now mind you, we, along with others that we had made contact with, were watching The Weather Channel like a hawk..... we knew it wasn't going to be easy thanks to Jose, and we were right (I scoped the water splashing out of the swimming pool - who needs a Flowrider? Right?) ---- I must give a lot of credit to the Captain ..... normally, as you come out of the Chesapeake, you go south towards Cape Hatteras, then a track SE to Bermuda ---This time, we came out of the bay, we went due east to stay ABOVE the storm, then arrive at Bermuda from the north ---- Then, on the way back, we stayed to the south of the storm all the way west, then went north to the Bay...... as we were in Bermuda, Jose passed to our west ..... we did a sort of loop around it...... Perfect. NEVER DID WE EVER THINK OUR SAFETY, OR THE SHIPS STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY WAS IN ANY JEOPARDY!!! Fortunately, through all this planning, my wife bought every conceivable seasickness remedy she could find "Just in Case" --- People got sick on this cruise because of the motion (luckily, we weren't two of them) ---- I'd file that under the category "Proper Planning" .... Now, to get to the fun ---- the vision my wife had was to enjoy relaxing around the pool, enjoying some frosty beverages and listening to the calypso music ....... yeah, outside of Sail-Away in Baltimore and again as we left Bermuda --- that just didn't happen (in fact, they drained all pools and shut down the top outdoor deck AND the Promenade Deck that wraps around the ship under the life boats because of the wind and the rocking....Plus, in Bermuda, many excursions were canceled due to rough seas ..... Fortunately, again, knowing what the weather was going to be like - we rescheduled our snorkeling excursion to instead, visit the Crystal Caves (I highly recommend) For us, we took what many considered to be lemons, and turned them into lemonade..... We just let each day "happen" and see where it takes us ..... Tyna caught me on video ATTEMPTING to dance to Thriller on the Centrum Stage night one ..... It was as ugly as you can imagine (Thanks Bud Lite) --- even as I type this, I'm chuckling ...... so much fun. On another day, we did the Sushi Making Class in Izumi (I tolerate Sushi at best -- she loves it) --- it was so much fun, hers looked it was done by a professional, not to be gross, mine looked like a turd --- We laughed so hard for hours over that. One evening, we watched Beauty and the Beast (the new version) on the big screen ..... Yes, my "man card" got taken away on that one, but so did a lot of others ....incredibly peaceful. We met some amazing people, saw some people that were on with us last time, that not only joined us this time, but also will be sailing with is in April of 2019. Once again, I'm shown how, when you're on a cruise, you're amongst family. Here are a few pictures --- including Tyna during the Sushi making class .... and .... us doing a little smoochie, smoochie in one of Bermuda's famous Moongates (with Grandeur in the background) --- a stunning shot if you ask me. Anyhow, lessons learned .... be prepared for the weather, don't expect your next cruise to be anything like your prior cruises, and go with the flow and let yourself be stupid and have fun --- even if that includes attempting to dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (I'm laughing again as I type this) Oh, and next time we go to Bermuda -- and yes, we are, it'll be October of 2018 --- still in Hurricane season , just not at its prime. Mark
  15. Hi All I have just been on my first Royal Caribbean cruise and loved it. I had an amazing deal around the Med which included a free deluxe drinks package, free wifi, all gratuities and a BOGO deal, booked 9 months before cruise date! Was a steal! I am now looking at my next cruise to Bermuda and Bahamas on the Grandure of the Seas in May 2018. However, when i phoned for a quote there were no inclusions just the standard 20% off deal which seams to be on most of the time anyway. So to seasoned Royal Caribbean customers my question is how much sway do the agents have? If i push them will they give me freebies or am i best to wait for a better promotion to pop up? Thanks
  16. I am looking at booking a room and Grandure of the Seas for 1 person. Does anyone have any tips on keeping the price down, at present i am looking at a full 2 person price with just port taxes reduced?
  17. Just returned from a 5 night Bermuda cruise on Grandeur. This was a "free" cruise for us courtesy of Club Royale so we only paid taxes, port fees and gratuities. While certainly not free, the price was greatly reduced. Grandeur has the Coca Cola Dispenser machines (sorry....can't remember what they are called. We never use them) I noticed the 10 drink punch card on day 3. It was $79 + 18% grat. It may have been offered earlier. I didn't see it in the Compass until day 3. Confirmed that Diamond Plus receive 30% discount on premium drink package onboard. It was noted on the D+ amenities page in our stateroom plus got a printout from Guest Services that showed it Stayed at the Best Western Hotel & Conference Center on O'Donnell street the night before the cruise. While not the greatest hotel or location, it was clean, the room was very large and the price included RT transport to the port, a nice breakfast and parking for the duration of the cruise. Total cost for 1 night around $220. I cannot recall the exact amount (this includes all the MANY taxes that are on top of the advertised $179.99 price). Completely acceptable. We drove to Fell's Point for dinner; lovely. Grandeur is still using the "old" dinner menus. Out of character for us, we purchased the 3 night dining package for $75 each (total of $150). We had to eat at one of the specialty restaurants on either night #1 or night #2. We chose to eat at Izumi on night 1. The Izumi package proved to be very cost effective. We each got $50 credit each time we ate there, meaning that we could spend $200 total on food at Izumi with this package (2 nights. $100 total each night). We ate there twice (nights 1 and 4). So, essentially, we ate more than the equivalent total cost of the complete package, just at our 2 visits to Izumi. I think we spent $96 on our first visit and $97 on the second. Bill each time ? $-0-. Basically, Chops (night #3) was free ! Drinks are not covered with this package. While eating at Izumi on night #1, Dan was convinced that we needed to purchase a special lunch deal on Day #3 at 11:30 AM. It was advertised as a buffet - the receipt we got even said "buffet". Dan's greedy eyes were aglow with the idea of a smorgasbord of endless sushi options. The price was $30 PP. I am not the sushi lover that he is but he was convinced that this was going to be an epic WIN, so we purchased it. Needless to say, whenever anyone gets that much anticipation rolling, it is bound to be a disappointment. There was NO buffet. It was a sit-down, 5 course meal, which may have been ok for a considerably LOWER price but the very idea that we could not choose our own menu was absolutely devastating. We certainly voiced our disappointment and the server made us each a nice plate of nigiri and sashimi (especially after I flashed the receipt which indicated that this would be a buffet) but it was overall a very big disappointment. I would NOT recommend it to anyone at the price they charged. The 3 night package. Absolutely. This Izumi special lunch option - no way ! To my great surprise, they did offer the Fisherman's Platter (lobster, etc.) on formal night - night #2. I thought that they did not serve lobster on less than a 7 night cruise so it was a surprise. We did not eat in the MDR that night b/c we had intentionally left our formal type duds at home. We ate dinner that night in the WJ (as most of you know, I am not a huge fan of the WJ) as I had been convinced (from the postings on this site !) that the evening fare would be much improved over what they serve during the day. To my great chagrin, I did not find this to be the case. It was just more of the same - certainly no lobster ! That will, most likely, be my last trip to the WJ for dinner. I was very disappointed. Chops on night #3 was good. It was Chops. Nothing spectacular. Food was good, not great. Completely worth the $-0- that we paid ! Of course, we left a nice tip so it wasn't completely free, but basically, it was free. We did not eat at Giovanni's this trip. The only evening meal we ate in the MDR was the last night. This was the night for the lamb shank, which is Dan's absolute favorite. It was as good as it always is (I don't eat lamb so I will just have to take his word for it). I was glad he got to have it. For the first time, we did the self assist walk-off early disembark. The return transportation was exactly where they said it would be and we were back at the Best Western to retrieve the car right about 8AM. I dropped Dan off at work on the way home and our trip was successfully completed. This was the first time we have been in an inside room in over 10 years. I was dreading it since I have been living the suite life so fully, lately. It was not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be. Certainly, the room was small and we didn't spend much time there for that reason. I find, the bigger and nicer the cabin, the MORE time I want to be there. It was on deck 4, which is WAAAY lower down than I have ever been. It was probably the most convenient location I have ever had. It was absolutely central to every activity we were interested in. It had been a while since I had sailed on a Vision class ship and I was afraid I would be bored with no Promenade or Boardwalk or Central Park. I was pleased to find that I was NOT. It is absolutely amazing how small the Vision class ships are, compared to the O class....but that was a GOOD thing on this trip. You can literally stand in the Centrum and SEE the dining rooms and almost see the theater from there ! You are never more than a few steps away from either end of the ship which is NOT true on the O class ships. I did not miss the bigger casino. The casino on the Grandeur had everything I wanted with the possible exception of a full sized poker table. Table minimums for 3 card poker and Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em were $5. I didn't play blackjack but I think the minimum was $10 at the regular BJ tables. Not sure about craps, either. The blinds for no limit hold 'em were $2 and $5 b/c I didn't get to the dealers the first night and get the blinds lowered to $1/$3. I have done that successfully on many cruises but once they start at $2/$5 they will stay there for the rest of the cruise. I will have to be faster next time ! It's just a way for the house rake to be more profitable for them. They had 1 UTH table, 2, 3 card poker tables, 1 craps table, 1 roulette table a number of variations of BJ, no Caribbean Stud or Mississippi Mud or any other poker variety table. While I don't play slots, the slot machines seemed old to me. There were a few newer ones but basically, I think they need to refresh some of those old machines. The water system did shut down twice that I know of. The first night it was out when I got up around 2AM to visit the washroom. Then, on day 4 it was out for about an hour in the middle of the day. No explanation, really. Not sure what the problem was, but it was apparently resolved quickly both times. There were only 3 Pinnacle Club members on this cruise ! I'm sure the PC's prefer the longer cruises. I believe there were only 12 D+ on this one, too. Dan and I received our 280 crystal block and got our pix taken with the crew that were present for the Top Tier event. Normally we skip that event (we refer to it as the cattle call) but since we were getting a block, we attended. Both the Diamond Lounge and Concierge Lounge are very small on the Grandeur but both have nice views which is unusual. Most of the CLs these days have no windows at all. The CL on Grandeur is located on the port side of the rear of the Viking Crown Room and the DL is in a corner of the South Pacific room in the aft. We were happy to see that we knew the DL Concierge (Rahul) as we had sailed with him numerous times before. It was his first day on the job on Grandeur ! The CL Concierge was Carlington, whom we did not know. He was very nice as well. The Cruise Director was Paul - can't remember his last name. Good, I'm sure. We didn't have much interaction with him. The Hotel Director was Keith Murphy (Ireland). The man was EVERYwhere. Every time we turned around we ran into him. Dan even ran into him off the ship ! What a great guy. He was our "celebrity" dealer in the Casino one night. Really, really nice and biiiiizzy. The best HD I have sailed with. He had some interesting stories (told privately, of course) of his epic journeys on both the Quantum and Ovation during their 56-whatever day global odyssey cruises to Asia. While we were in Bermuda, they were holding the America's Cup races. I am not a yachting fan so I really don't know much about them but it was, apparently a VERY big deal. We could see the yachts out in the harbor practicing. Dan went out and watched 2 races on Tuesday. Sweden vs New Zealand (NZ won) and US vs France (US won). I barely got off the ship as Bermuda is not my favorite port of call but the weather was nice and I got out for a few hours on Tuesday before we left. I rode the tram around for a bit just to say I got off. Very nice cruise. We enjoyed it very much and were happy to re-discover the virtues of the small ships. Glad we decided to do this one.
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