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New Cruiser--Leaving on Grandeur of the Seas


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Good Evening All,

 

We booked a last minute cruise on Grandeur of the Seas--Eastern Caribbean, leaving Baltimore in Jan.

 

We've never cruised before. FYI, We're grad students, love culture, not big drinkers--but we're def. taking advantage of bringing 2 bottles of wine onboard.

 

I'm looking for advice...

 

Should we look into the $19 non-beverage package--or just go with what's offered at meals? Is it worth it anyway just to get bottled water to bring on ports of call? It would be $400 for the length of our cruise--that's a lot of coffee and juice!

 

Should we go with the shore excursions offered by RCL, a 3rd party, or strike out on our own?

 

Booking the upgraded restaurants worth it?

 

advice for packing clothes--we would rather not bring tons of stuff or buy new dresses/suits.

 

We signed up for open dining, but I'm wondering if it would good to switch back to regular? Specifically, the early seating so we can get to evening entertainment.

Thanks!!

 

 

 

 

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Good Evening All,

 

We booked a last minute cruise on Grandeur of the Seas--Eastern Caribbean, leaving Baltimore in Jan.

 

We've never cruised before. FYI, We're grad students, love culture, not big drinkers--but we're def. taking advantage of bringing 2 bottles of wine onboard.

 

I'm looking for advice...

 

Should we look into the $19 non-beverage package--or just go with what's offered at meals? Is it worth it anyway just to get bottled water to bring on ports of call? It would be $400 for the length of our cruise--that's a lot of coffee and juice!

 

Should we go with the shore excursions offered by RCL, a 3rd party, or strike out on our own?

 

Booking the upgraded restaurants worth it?

 

advice for packing clothes--we would rather not bring tons of stuff or buy new dresses/suits.

 

We signed up for open dining, but I'm wondering if it would good to switch back to regular? Specifically, the early seating so we can get to evening entertainment.

Thanks!!

 

First off, bring some sea-sickness medicine just in case.  We sailed out of Baltimore in November a few years ago on Vision, and my wife was sea-sick due to the rough open ocean.  And once it's 9pm or so, put your phone into Airplane mode and stick it in the safe... I didn't, and was banged $30+ in access fees for leaving it on overnight once we lost cell signal out in the ocean.

 

For me, the bev packages aren't worth it.  I'm not much of a juice drinker, and standard coffee is fine for me (except for the occasional boozy coffee drink).  YMMV.

 

I tend to stick with ship excursions, unless I've done all that interests me, then I strike out on my own.  I like the 'insurance policy' that the ship will wait for you if the excursion is late in returning to port.  They will not do that for privately booked excursions.  But that said, there's something to be said for having a bit of adventure - handing a guy a hundred dollar bill and asking him to show you the stuff off the beaten path...lunch at the dive where all the locals eat because the food is fab, a few beers at the most beautiful beach you've ever been that is completely deserted because no tourists can get there easily, standing on a cliff that has the second highest lighthouse in the hemisphere and looking east and knowing there's not a thing standing between you and Africa except this great wide ocean... 

 

I've not upgraded to any up-charge restaurants on any of my cruises; the MDR is fine for me.  I'd consider Sabor, Izumi, or a Celeb Chef restaurant, but in the end we've just never bothered.  We tend to strike up friendships with wait staff and that's a big part of our cruise experience, so we stick to the MDR.

 

Pack less than you think you'll need.  After our first 3-4 cruises I took photos of all the unused clothing to give me an idea on what not to bring on our next cruise.  Now that it's me, my wife, and 2 kids, we go with just two large pieces of luggage, our two carry-ons (mostly for electronics and medicines), and the kids have two small backpacks for their play stuff.  Our first cruise we had three bags each for me and my wife.  I don't bother with a suit for formal night any more, I just bring a jacket and khakis that can be worn for several nights.

 

If you've signed up for My Time Dining, you can always make your reservations at the same time each evening, and request the same wait staff.  There's been a number of times where we've been assigned MTD, but we request the same time and location and it's worked out well.

 

It's your vacation - make it what you want to be, and enjoy yourselves.

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I basically agree with the prior posters points.

 

On the drink package I am generally fine with the complimentary drinks - Juice from concentrate Iced Tea, Lemonade, Water (flavored water on some ships) so I would not do the beverage package. However, if you enjoy the flavored coffees and fresh OJ then its not a bad deal, really depends on whether you would be happy with the included options or feel like you wanted to buy the upcharge items anyway. The bottled water is a nice feature, depends on how many port days, etc. though as to the value.

 

You didn't ask about alcohol package but I assume you know about them (since you mentioned the non-alcoholic package) and already made a decision on that.

 

If you have never cruised before I would strongly recommend sticking with ship excursions until you get a feel for how everything works. The worst thing that can happen on a cruise (pretty much) is to end up on land watching your boat leave without you :) Once you have some experience with the ports, the process, how long things really take, etc. there is nothing wrong with striking out on your own, but for your first cruise I don't think you want to add that stress to your trip.

 

Specialty restaurants are very much a personal decision, some people love them and book them heavily others find the main dining room itself to be a novel environment and don't feel the need. We have done Chops (Steakhouse) several times and generally like it, not sure which other options are on Grandeur. In general for a first time cruise I would recommend trying out the Main Dining Room concept first and see how that feels before going crazy on spending extra, we are on about cruise 15 and still spend most of our nights in the MDR. Maybe book one specialty for the second or third night and see how it feels in comparison.

 

Open (MTD) dining vs assigned early dining is also a personal decision, many people enjoy the flexibility of open dining and being able to eat when you are ready rather than at a certain time, others (me) prefer to have a set time and place so I don't have to think about it. Dinner will be there, my table will be ready, etc., less to think about :)

 

If your concern is around making show times you can generally try and get "early" reservations in the open dining system that simulate the same experience as the early assigned dining time, my advice would be to do whatever sounds easier/less stressful for you.

 

Packing can be a real adventure. As bcarney said you almost always end up with leftover clothing, so try and pack a little lighter than you think you need to. The days of tuxedos required for formal night onboard have passed us by, which doesn't mean you can dress up all the way if you want to but does mean that if packing light is more important to you than looking awesome you can get away with slacks. Personally my first couple of cruises found me lugging a suit back and forth, at this point my pictures seem to show a dress shirt and slacks, no jackets, no ties. For the 2nd formal night usually the same pair of slacks with a different shirt.

 

Hope that helps, enjoy the cruise !

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Well, I'm a she, so I guess I can get away with black pants and different tops for formal nights :).

 

But seriously, I'm wondering about packing--it can be brutally cold in Baltimore in January! Then add in the 70's-80's in the Caribbean. Is most of the ship enclosed? So, I'm not stuck in my room waiting for it to warm up.

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There is an enclosed pool area; however, the majority of the top decks are open and I'd suspect it will be cold the first day out and the last day back. It's very easy to stay in on these days if you desire and all of the venues besides the pool deck (e.g., pools with the exception of the solarium pool, mini golf, rock climbing wall) are indoors. There's also a lot of glass, so it's easy to find a spot onboard to watch the sea from indoors if it's cold.

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Well, I'm a she, so I guess I can get away with black pants and different tops for formal nights :).

 

But seriously, I'm wondering about packing--it can be brutally cold in Baltimore in January! Then add in the 70's-80's in the Caribbean. Is most of the ship enclosed? So, I'm not stuck in my room waiting for it to warm up.

Aside from the pool decks, the ship is enclosed.  I was just on Quantum of the Seas in NY and it wasn't exactly summer out.  That's the most outdoor the ship is.

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We have a friend taking us to the port, so we don't even have to pay for parking.

 

We hope to do some snorkeling. Would you recommend bringing our own equipment or going on a tour. My husband and I are not good swimmers.

Bringing your own equipment would save you some money and if you have better than average snorkelling gear it may be best to do so.  Of course, the downside to bringing your own equipment is you have to lug your equipment from home to the ship and back, so it's extra weight.

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Hi !

I've sailed out of Baltimore a few times - and its very easy - I think you will like using My Time Dining even as a first cruiser

Like Bcarney says you can book times, waiters, and if you meet friends, and you will, eat with them
I think Chops is the only upcharge place you could try just for something different but if you don't you will still enjoy

the dining -

 

ShoreTrips.com is just as good as the ships shore tours, but since you have not done these before then sticking

with the ship tours is just fine as well. 

Clothes - yes black pants and nicer fun night time shirts is what I do a lot and one black dress or stretchy dress

my husband brings one jacket, and then two slacks he rotates, and variety of shirts.  We bring one suitcase and

one hanging back for both of us - and back pack with other gear (wine)   Bring a sweater, I'm always cold at shows

and the ship can get cold.

 

have a great time - and hopefully January in Baltimore will be warmer than past years

I'm in VA and freeze a lot.

 

:)

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