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twangster

Recap: Grandeur 9 Night Bermuda & Bahamas August 2017

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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. 

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Baltimore has a small cruise terminal and I headed there late morning arriving just after 11am. 

The first queue I encountered was for security.  Diamond and above have a priority queue for security while the rest of us lined up and waited.  It was about 15 minutes to snake the way through to the xray machine.  Once past security as a gold level C&A I was bundled in with the never cruised guests.  By now it was approaching peak.  Around 12:15pm I had my sea pass card in hand and could make my way to the next line.  In Baltimore there is another queue as you board the ship. 

Still in the terminal, Diamond and up go left, all others go right into the queue to arrange dining.  I had My Time reservations yet still had to queue and wait for several couples in front of me to arrange their dining.  I tried to bypass this area but was scolded back into line.  Finally my turn they confirmed I had My Time reservations and I was clear to proceed through the terminal and towards the gangway.  A Carnival ship had crashed into the elevated gangway a few months prior so we would be boarding at ground level like you would at a port of call while repairs to the proper gangway were still on going. 

12:45 pm and I was finally stepping onto the ship.  At least cabins were ready by this time so I was able to head straight to my cabin with my two bottles of wine that I carried on.

In retrospect this is the slowest boarding I've encountered with Royal, around 90 minutes car to ship.  Lesson learned - go earlier.

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For locals the cruise terminal has outdoor parking right beside the terminal on both sides.  That's the cruise terminal to the right and one of the parking lots to its left.

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Baltimore harbor is a busy cargo port and there would be many ships coming and going this day,

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No helipad access on Vision class ships because there is no helipad.  The bow area contains the various lines and rigging used to tie up in port.

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Luggage arrived quickly and I unpacked it to minimize wrinkles then explored the ship before muster.

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Viking Crown Lounge.  Through the window you can see the other parking lot on the other side of the terminal.

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Izumi is located 1/2 deck above the Viking Crown Lounge.

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The Centrum

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Palladium Theater

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Adult only Solarium

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Flash forward to today and having now sailed Radiance class I see where much of that design evolved from looking back at these pictures and reliving this cruise.

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Muster complete it was time for sail away.

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It doesn't take long to reach the first bridge we need to pass under.  This is I-695 and the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

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What is it about passing under a bridge that is irresistible to observe?

In another couple of hours we would pass under the Chesapeake Bay bridge.  I was eating dinner in the My Time MDR as we passed under the Bay bridge so I missed getting photos of that one.

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I had dinner in the My Time MDR with some of the best service I've experienced on a cruise.   I have photos of the dinner menus but they've changed now fleet wide so I won't post them since it could cause confusion for future guests.

Day Two - Sea Day

I love sea days and this one didn't disappoint.  I don't have any pictures to share because I hadn't ever live blogged when I took this cruise and didn't take photos with that concept in mind.  

Another great meal in the MDR with the same wait staff.

Back in my cabin I found a note advising us we would change time this evening in advance of our arrival into Bermuda on day three.

 

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Day Three - Bermuda

Arriving near the top of the island to pick up our pilot we still had a couple of hours before our scheduled arrival. 

Bermuda has a distinct shipping channel through the coral and shoals surrounding the island.  Coral outcrops are clearly visible near the surface of the water.  It's quite a job to navigate through shallow water and coral outcrops that rise up towards the surface on both sides of the ship.  This has got to be one of the more technical approaches for cruise ships sailing from US waters.  Unlike other ports where the ship can pretty much sail straight to the pier, in Bermuda it's a channel that runs just about the length of the island that the ship must follow before turning and heading towards the cruise pier.


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On this day I self explored the fort and shops in the Royal Naval Dockyard area.  Bermuda and the Naval Dockyard played an interesting role in the days of tall ships and England's place in history managing "the colonies".  Bermuda was a staging area, supply depot and place to repair tall ships that were used as England governed over its interests in North America and the West Indies.

When Paul Revere and William Dawes set out to warn "The British are coming!" this is likely where the British came from before arriving in Boston.


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Not a bad spot to enjoy a frozen drink on this very hot summer day.

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A Bermuda Moongate:

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Day Four - Bermuda continued

We awoke to some pretty lousy weather.  I had planned to explore some beaches and areas beyond the Naval Dockyard but the Captain's weather forecast didn't sound very promising and he was right.  I stayed pretty close to the ship leaving my camera on board in case it rained, which it did, a lot. 

Oh darn, guess I'll have to plan another Bermuda cruise to venture past the port area

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We departed Bermuda snaking our way back out the channel through the coral towards the north end of Bermuda where we dropped our pilot and turned away from the island and South to head towards our next port of call, Nassau. A note on my bed informed me we would change the time back to Eastern that night at 2am.

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Day 6 - Nassau

On this occasion we joined a few other cruise lines in Nassau where we docked right beside the terminal.

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A partial Solarium roof opening to let some heat out and sun in.

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I have to admit I have somewhat avoided Nassau and booked cruises around it for years.  My last stop was in 2002(ish).  A lot has changed and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.   I walked over to the Queen's Staircase and boy was it hot.  I came back to the ship to enjoy an ice cold beer and jump in the pool. 

Our departure was set for midnight so I had an early dinner in the My Time MDR as I prepared for the sun setting and golden hour.

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With our departure set for after dark I wandered back onto the pier for some more night shots of the ship.

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At some point around 8pm if I recall correctly they opened the casino on board.  They explained they have an agreement with the Bahamas that when they close their casinos for the night ships can open their casinos.  It's one of the few times the casino is open while in port.  At midnight we set sail at a leisurely pace towards our next stop, Cococay.

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Day 7 - Cococay

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This would mark my first visit to Cococay and i headed the cruise directors suggestion that the first couple of tenders will have few lines or crowds but after that expect some wait times to board a tender.  I was on the first tender.

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Given what we now know is coming to Cococay I'm going to go a little photo intensive to capture it as it is (or was). 
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It's 5 o'clock somewhere right?  Time for a Coco-Loco.  No drink package so i got the souvenir cup edition.

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The new pier has come a long way since September 2017 but this is what it looked like back then.

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Time to head back but I thought I'd grab a shot of the tenders for historical reference. Soon enough these will be no longer required once the pier is complete.

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Back on the ship here is another tender photo with Great Stirrup Cay in the background (NCL's private destination right next door).

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Another shot of the pier at a very early construction stage.

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We were warned that shops and the casino would close early on the last evening on board since we would enter the Chesapeake and be inside the 12 mile territorial limit in US waters.  They also suggested that if you want any photographs, make sure you buy them during the day as the photo store would close as well.  

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Cruise summary

Grandeur or "Lady G" as she is sometimes affectionately referred to is a fine ship with a great crew.  You can often find great deals on her.

Service in the My Time MDR was superb and I enjoyed it every night having not purchased any specialty dining.   

I realize that my photos have missed significant areas of the ship.   I've also completely neglected all entertainment and shows in the theater so I guess i better book another cruise on her to fix that.

It isn't a large ship by today's standards and it doesn't have bumper cars, or zip lines or ice skating but it does offer an intimate cruise experience with a great connection to the sea.

The Baltimore cruise terminal is small but easy.  My Lyft ride from the cruise port to BWI was $24 including a $2.50 BWI imposed fee. 

Would I sail her again?  Absolutely. 

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You know how I feel about Lady G.  To add to some of your information.... the gangway that the Carnival Pride hit has been repaired/replaced.  We were able to board via Deck 4 last September on it.  As for Parking .... Royal uses the lot to the left of the Cruise Maryland Terminal (if you're looking at it from the ship) --- Carnival uses the other side. 

As for boarding time..... you're right, if you would've arrived just a little earlier, you would've been on board very quickly.  For those that haven't sailed out of Baltimore, going under the Key Bridge and Bay Bridges is epic...... the optical illusion of feeling like you're going to hit them is something you won't forget.

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

Day Four - Bermuda continued

We awoke to some pretty lousy weather.  I had planned to explore some beaches and areas beyond the Naval Dockyard but the Captain's weather forecast didn't sound very promising and he was right.  I stayed pretty close to the ship leaving my camera on board in case it rained, which it did, a lot. 

Oh darn, guess I'll have to plan another Bermuda cruise to venture past the port area

You are more than welcome to join us for the 7-nighter this coming October.

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