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I spent more than $1500 on a 4-night cruise. Here's what everything cost, from a $350 dog sitter to $43 for onboard internet

10 Nov 2023

I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, and while the cruise fare was relatively cheap at $466.50 per person, the additional costs of cruising and traveling added up quickly. 

My sister and I were eager to have a fall getaway and we had never cruised on Grandeur of the Seas before. Since this cruise was only 4-nights, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to sail onboard the ship, commonly referred to as “Lady G”. 

I spent approximately $1,512.71 on a 4-night cruise to sail on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship between my flights, internet, specialty dining and travel costs. I'm not sure if I would want to spend that much again unless the itinerary included more interesting ports. 

I flew across Florida for the cruise - from Destin to Tampa - for $250

Living in Florida is perfect for an avid cruiser like me, but the Florida Panhandle is about as far from the cruise ports as you can get in the state. Rather than making the 6 hour drive to Tampa for the cruise, I purchased a flight instead. 

To be frank, I hate driving in Florida and do not handle the stress with grace behind the wheel. I grew up driving on rural highways in South Dakota, so the massive interstates in Florida continue to give me driving anxiety.

Purchasing a flight was the best choice for us, even if it was more expensive than hitting the road. Given the upward trending costs of flights these days, $250 seemed more than reasonable to fly on Delta Air Lines. 

My sister and I both flew with carry-on luggage, so we did not have any additional luggage expenses. However, we did leave our car at the airport; this ended up costing us $51.90 for the five nights. Had we driven to Tampa, we likely would have spent more than this to park at the cruise port. 

  • Flights to Tampa: $250
  • Airport Parking: $51.90
  • Total: $301.90

To have someone take care of my dogs at home, I paid an in-home dog sitter $350 for five nights

When pricing out a cruise, I always forget about the additional cost of my dogs. Since my sister is my go-to (i.e. free) dog sitter when I travel, I needed to pursue another option because she would be traveling with me this time. Unfortunately, my husband would not be home to watch the dogs either. 

I have two large Aussiedoodles, so boarding can get expensive with two dogs. Because I prefer to keep them at home if I can, I hired a dog sitter to come to our house to take care of them. The total cost for this pet care was $350 for the five nights we would be away, including a tip. 

But, you can’t convince me that this was not money well spent to know my dogs were well cared for during our cruise. Peace of mind is priceless!

  • Dog sitter total: $350

The night before the cruise, we spent the night at the Tampa Marriott hotel connected to the airport for $150.96

The cardinal rule of cruising is that you should arrive to your embarkation port the day before your cruise, especially if you are flying. We opted for a flight that arrived later in the evening, which allowed us to work at home in the morning. This also saved on cost for the dog sitter and airport parking. 

I had never traveled to Tampa for a cruise before, so I was not sure the best area to stay prior to the cruise. Because we did not have much time to explore the city, we opted for a convenient option at the airport. 

We paid $150.96 for one night at the Tampa Airport Marriott. This was a perfect choice for us because it was connected directly to the airport, so we did not need to take transportation. We were able to walk directly from the passenger terminal to the hotel. 

Because I have status with Marriott, we had access to the hotel’s lounge for both breakfast and dinner. This easily saved us $50 each because we did not need to pay for meals until we boarded the cruise. 

  • Hotel in Tampa: $150.96

We spent $54.48 on Uber rides to and from the cruise port

Staying in the airport hotel was cost-efficient for us; however, we still needed an Uber ride the following morning when it was time to board our cruise. We had a leisure morning at the hotel enjoying breakfast and coffee before making our way to the Tampa Cruise Terminal.

The cost of the Uber to the cruise terminal from the Marriott Airport Hotel was $27.96, including a tip for the driver. We were surprised to see the cruise terminal was located in the heart of downtown.

Read moreTop things Uber & Lyft riders should know for getting to their cruise ship

After the cruise ended, we ordered an Uber to take us back to the airport. The cost of this Uber on a Monday morning was only $26.32. I anticipated this to cost more given the number of people looking for transportation, but that was not the case.

  • Uber to cruise port from airport hotel: $27.96
  • Uber to airport from cruise port: $26.32
  • Total Uber Cost: $54.28

The 4-night cruise on Grandeur of the Seas was $466.50 to stay in an inside cabin guarantee

Cruising in an inside guarantee cabin is almost always the most affordable option on a cruise ship. In addition, Grandeur of the Seas was built in the 1990s when ships featured very few balconies. Because of this, most cabins onboard are outside or inside cabins anyway. 

We did not mind sailing in an inside cabin since the cruise was only four nights. I was eager to see the cabin’s condition consider the ship’s age; however, we were impressed by the stateroom overall. It was apparent Royal Caribbean had refurbished the ship at some point, although it still lacked modern amenities. 

In fact, the cabin’s design and condition was very similar to my recent experiences onboard Radiance, Voyager, and Freedom Class ships. The worst part of the cabin was the oddly-shaped shower and dealing with noisy neighbors. 

Onboard the cruise, we paid an additional $74 for tips between drinks and dining service

Although we had prepaid our gratuities, we still had additional tipping expenses onboard our cruise. My sister and I both qualify for the complimentary Diamond Plus drinks each day. But, these drinks are not automatically charged with gratuities in the same way you’d be charged for an individual drink.

Because of this, I always tip a few dollars on my Diamond drinks to ensure the bartenders are taken care of. I spent $14 on additional tips during my cruise since I did not have many drinks throughout the sailing. 

I also spent $60 on additional tips for our stateroom attendant, dining room waiter and assistant waiter. On a shorter cruise, I usually tip $20 to each of these crew members to express my gratitude for their hard-work and service. But, these are optional and at the cruiser’s discretion, especially if you've prepaid your gratuities. 

  • Drink Tips: $43.98
  • Additional tips: $60.00
  • Total Additional Tips: $103.98

We decided to splurge on an Internet package and specialty dining during our cruise

It’s easy to spend a lot of money on your cruise with additional add-ons once onboard. Everything from specialty dining to internet access and casino play can rack up quite the bill.

I never forget to purchase internet when I cruise, as I need this for my multiple remote jobs. I also prefer keeping in touch with those back home, such as the dog sitter for daily pup-dates. Moreover, I want to have access to the internet in case there is an emergency. 

Sometimes it’s cheaper to pre-purchase internet depending on the sailing’s length - this is especially dependent on any promotions that Royal Caribbean is running. For a 4-night sailing, it’s normally cheaper to purchase internet onboard to take advantage of my two free internet days, which I receive as a Diamond Plus member. 

For the higher-tier internet package for our 4-night cruise, including my loyalty discount, I paid $51.98. I dream of the day that internet access on a cruise ship will be included!

Additionally, my sister and I decided to splurge on specialty dining for the first night of our cruise. Boarding day can be hectic and I enjoy winding down with a more upscale meal and dining experience in a specialty restaurant. 

Using our Diamond Plus specialty dining benefit, we can get a free cover charge with the purchase of a full-price cover charge. Essentially, this is a BOGO deal that can be used on the first or second night of the cruise. 

Read moreThe Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

We had a fantastic meal in Giovanni’s Italian Table costing $63.09, which included a service charge and tip for our incredible waiter.

  • Internet package: $51.98
  • Specialty dining at Giovanni’s: $63.09
  • Total Onboard Purchases: $115.07

During our stop in Cozumel, we walked around the port but did not spend any money

We booked this cruise because of the price and dates rather than the itinerary. For this 4-night cruise, we had two sea days and one port stop in Cozumel, Mexico. My sister and I have cruised a lot in our lifetime, so we were happy to simply walk around the Cozumel port and not spend any money. 

Excursions in Cozumel can also be pricey depending on what you want to do during your time ashore. During the day we visited, it was very hot outside; so, we lasted maybe 30 minutes in the heat before making our way back to the ship. 

If you are looking to budget appropriately for your upcoming cruise, be sure to include the cost of your port activities or excursions. Some cities are easy to explore on your own while others might require an excursion to see or do what you want. 

  • Money spent in port: $0

Between the cost of the cruise, airfare, dog sitter, transportation and onboard expenses, I spent $1,512.71 to sail on Grandeur of the Seas

My sister and I had a great time on our cruise, although we both agreed the final cost of the entire vacation was more than we expected. It’s easy to see a fantastic cruise price and think you will be enjoying a budget-friendly trip. However, the extra costs of cruising, traveling and simply enjoying vacation can add up quickly. 

Aside from the cruise itself, the most expensive aspects of my cruise came from the $350 dog sitter, $250 flight and $150 hotel cost. More often than not, the cost of pet care exceeds other areas of cruising - at least for me! It’s much more cost efficient for me to cruise without my sister so she can stay behind and watch my dogs (sorry, Angie). 

For $1,500, I think I’d prefer to save up for a bigger cruise with either a more interesting itinerary or a newer cruise ship. But, sometimes a short weekend cruise is more accessible in comparison to a bigger cruise. Even still, there always seem to be unexpected charges 

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

04 Nov 2023

Royal Caribbean’s fleet is home to the biggest and most advanced cruise ships in the world. The cruise line is best known for pushing the limits when it comes to ship design and innovation; as such, many people prefer to sail onboard Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ships. 

But, is bigger always better when it comes to cruise ships? Some will say yes without hesitation, but there are actually many perks to sailing on older cruise ship.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean ships by age — Newest to Oldest

Last week, my sister and I sailed onboard Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship in the fleet: Grandeur of the Seas. This 72,000 gross ton cruise ship was built in 1996, making her nearly 26 years old.

Grandeur of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Vision class of ships, which debuted between 1995-1998. While some of her sister ships have since been retired from the fleet (namely Legend of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas), four of the ships are still sailing for Royal Caribbean.

Although I’ve cruised with Royal Caribbean for most of my life, the majority of my cruises have been on some of the oldest and smallest ships in the fleet. I’ve sailed on all of the ships in the Vision class fleet, many of which are 20+ years old for Royal Caribbean. My first Royal Caribbean cruise was actually on Enchantment of the Seas, so the Vision class ship holds a special place in my heart!

These days, I prefer to choose my cruises based on the itinerary, sail date and price. If this means I am boarding a cruise ship that’s 20+ years old, this does not bother me. During my recent sailing on Grandeur of the Seas, my sister and I had a such a fantastic time, even though the ship is nearly the same age we are. 

I felt like this experience solidified my love of Royal Caribbean’s oldest and smallest ships. Here’s why I truly don’t mind sailing on these small ships and why you should consider sailing on them too. 

Older ships are more affordable

With all the hype around newer cruise ships, Royal Caribbean can charge a premium for their most in-demand vessels. On the other hand, the oldest cruise ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet are rarely in high demand unless there is a lucrative itinerary.

I’m someone who cruises frequently, so I try to save money whenever I can. I find the easiest way to save is to choose the cheapest cabin on an older ship. 

Read more45 easy ways how to save money on a cruise

For our weekend cruise on Grandeur of the Seas, we paid just $466 for the 4-night sailing, which included the cruise fare, pre-paid gratuities, port taxes and fees. Considering this was a last minute sailing, the pricing seemed appropriate. 

On the contrary, Royal Caribbean’s website shows a 4-night sailing on Utopia of the Seas for next summer at $836. This is nearly double the cost as our sailing on Grandeur of the Seas. As expected, this brand-new ship will cost you much more than sailing on an older and smaller ship. 

Of course, you won’t find as many amenities or things to do on an older and smaller ship; but, those looking for a more simple and quiet cruising experience should definitely consider sailing on an older ship. If you don’t need the bells and whistles of Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, consider pricing an itinerary on a Vision class ship to save some money. 

The smaller ships sail on more interesting itineraries

Although our recent sailing on Grandeur of the Seas was a weekend getaway to Cozumel, most of my cruises on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships have been on interesting itineraries. I prefer to book my cruises based on their itineraries and I am not picky about which ship I am sailing on. 

Some of my favorite cruises have been on Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships. For example, I sailed on Rhapsody of the Seas for my honeymoon to Italy, Greece and Croatia. I also sailed on Vision of the Seas in high school from Norway to Paris, Liverpool and Edinburgh during my first European cruise. 

There are cruise ports have sizing restrictions when it comes to cruise ships docking. Therefore, the largest and newest ships are more limited when it comes to their itineraries. Because of this, you can normally find the more interesting itineraries on the oldest and smallest ships. 

Additionally, when your itinerary is full of exciting port stops, you might not even be spending much time onboard your cruise ship anyway. On an older and smaller ship, the focus is less on the ship and more about the destinations.

Last summer, my husband and I sailed to the Canary Islands, Spain and Portugal on Anthem of the Seas during a fantastic 12-night itinerary. We spent all day, everyday exploring the ports - leaving us little time to even enjoy this newer ship and all of her amenities. 

Anthem of the Seas in Lisbon

By the time we made our way back onboard and had dinner, we were too tired to partake in the evening festivities on the ship. Honestly, I felt a little guilty for not experiencing all of the entertainment and activities onboard but we also wanted to relax when we could. 

You’ll find less crowds onboard the oldest ships

Royal Caribbean’s newest ships are quite the engineering feat - these cruise ships feel like floating resorts! But, with ships becoming bigger than ever, you also have to deal with more people onboard your cruise. 

For example, Wonder of the Seas is currently the biggest ship in the world and it can fit around 9,300 passengers and crew members onboard. That’s bigger than some small towns! The new Icon of the Seas will be even larger, holding around 10,000 guests at double occupancy when you consider the crew members onboard. 

If you aren’t a fan of crowds, you might want to look at cruising on an older and smaller ship. While older cruise ships were considered large when they were first built, it’s a stark comparison to Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships. 

Grandeur of the Seas is nearly one third of the size of an Oasis-class ship. After sailing on Odyssey of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas last year, I was eager to see how it would feel sailing on Grandeur of the Seas in comparison. 

To my surprise, I found it refreshing that we didn’t have to deal with crowds most of the time. We had no issue finding a chair in the Solarium most days of the cruise, along with premium seats near the pool. While the Windjammer can be difficult to navigate with crowds and find a seat, this wasn’t the case for us either. We never had an issue finding a table at the buffet, even during peak times. Going the shows or activities on a smaller ship meant we didn't need to get there early to snag a seat. Overall, it was less stressful sailing with less people. 

Older ships offer a more intimate cruising experience

From the minute my sister and I stepped onboard Grandeur of the Seas, I remembered how much I love the intimacy of Royal Caribbean’s older ships. These smaller vessels just feel more like home. The welcoming atmosphere really cultivates a different cruising experience than you’ll find on newer and biggest cruise ships.

Measuring around 70,000 gross tons, Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships are considered small to medium cruise ships by today’s standards. Keep in mind though, these cruise ships are not small for the everyday person. 

Read more: Royal Caribbean ships by size

My sister and I both agreed that Grandeur of the Seas had a very cozy ambiance onboard. Everything felt more intimate and nothing was ever overwhelmingly large onboard. Although bigger ships have tons to do, you won’t have this feeling of intimacy on a mega-cruise ship. 

Everything is conveniently located on an older and smaller ship

During my sailing on Grandeur of the Seas, I also forgot about how nice it was to have everything easily accessible on a cruise ship. Our stateroom was located on Deck 3 and while this would feel like the dungeon on a newer cruise ship, we were centrally located on Grandeur of the Seas.

Wherever we wanted to go, it felt like nothing was too far away. We could also run back to our cabin quickly if we forgot something and it never took more than five minutes to get where we needed to go. On bigger cruise ships, you can clock in 10,000 steps just by navigating around the ship and finding where you need to go!

While I don’t mind getting in some steps during my cruise, it can be a pain wasting time running around the ship if you forget something. Although I don’t have any accessibility issues, I can see why those with mobility limitations would want to cruise on an older, smaller ship. These vessels are easy to navigate with everything being conveniently located. 

You won’t forget you’re on a cruise ship

The first morning of our cruise on Grandeur of the Seas, my sister and I grabbed coffee and sat by the open windows in the Centrum, or atrium area in the middle of the ship. We had no issue grabbing a chair and opted to sip our coffee while watching the ship sail through the glistening sea. 

One of my favorite features of the Vision class cruise ships is the glass-covered Centrum, which features floor to ceiling panels of windows. There is so much natural light that shines into the center of the ship - and this is something you will not really experience on a newer ship. Everywhere onboard Grandeur of the Seas felt like it had sprawling views of the sea. 

On a newer ship, it’s very easy to forget that you’re actually on a cruise ship. While this is can be a selling point for some, others want to feel like they are out at sea. On an older ship, you will find way more opportunities to sit back and enjoy the view than you’ll find on a newer ship. Because older ships do not have all the bells and whistles like bigger ships, the focus is really on enjoying the views.

It’s easier to relax

In my experiences, it’s easier to relax on an older ship because you are more limited on what amenities and activities you can do. Newer ships have so much to offer that it can feel overwhelming. With limited time onboard, you may want to do everything you can - which is not super relaxing.

While bigger ships have more things to do than you can imagine, older and smaller ships have far less to do. In general, you’ll find less amenities, entertainment and activities. Because of this, you can really focus on relaxation if that’s what you need on vacation.

Our sailing on Grandeur of the Seas was the most relaxing cruise I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t feel like there was pressure to do everything onboard. Instead, I lounged in the Solarium and took a nap each day. It was easy to feel disconnected onboard an older ship.

Older ships are well maintained

You might imagine that older ships are outdated rust buckets, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although some cruise ships are better maintained than others, I’ve found that Royal Caribbean generally takes good care of its older ships. 

These older vessels require more maintenance, but I was impressed with the condition of Grandeur of the Seas, especially after reading many negative reviews online prior to sailing. There were a few instances of rust, which is expected for a 26-year-old ship. But, overall the ship was in great condition. 

The bottom line

If you have yet to sail on an older cruise ship with Royal Caribbean, I highly recommend considering a cruise on a Vision class ship. While you won’t find all of the glitz and glam of a newer ship, you might find that a more traditional cruising experience fits your vacation style - and budget - better than you envisioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love sailing on newer and bigger cruise ships. I find the entertainment and dining options to be selling points for those cruises. However, I don’t turn my nose at a cruise that sails on an older ship. If the price is right, I can have a great time on any cruise ship, regardless of age. 

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

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. 

Trying Royal Caribbean's oldest & smallest ship, Grandeur of the Seas, was better than we envisioned

06 Oct 2023

Royal Caribbean is known for having the biggest, most technologically advanced cruise ships at sea. The cruise line's advertisements are filled with families having adventure-packed vacations on Royal Caribbean’s most exciting ships. Everything in Royal Caribbean’s marketing is colorful and upbeat, with the promise of offering a fun-filled cruise vacation for your whole family. 

In fact, the cruise line’s newest ship, Icon of the Seas, will be making her highly anticipated debut in January 2024. The massive ship will take the coveted title of being the biggest ship in the world, clocking in at an astonishing 250,000 gross tons and holding close to 8,000 passengers. 

With all the hype around the newest and biggest ships, you might forget that Royal Caribbean offers cruises on substantially older and smaller vessels. The fleet’s oldest ships can be found in the Vision Class of cruise ships, which offer an entirely different Royal Caribbean experience than you might imagine. 

Currently, the oldest ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet is Grandeur of the Seas, which was built nearly 26 years ago in 1996. Although Royal Caribbean announced in 2019 that the ship would be sold, the pandemic altered the course of these plans. Now, Grandeur of the Seas will continue to sail for Royal Caribbean for the foreseeable future.  

Given her age and size, many are quick to scoff at the thought of cruising onboard Grandeur of the Seas. Who would want to spend their time and money sailing on a ‘rust bucket’ or ‘worn down’ cruise ship?

Well, I took one for the team and decided to book a short sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas. I was hesitant to spend my time and money on a cruise ship that many wouldn’t even consider sailing on. But, I’ve sailed on Grandeur’s sister ships, Vision of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas, so I had some realistic expectations about the experience.

After sailing on Grandeur of the Seas, I found this old and small ship to be quite charming, nicely refurbished and well maintained. Others on the cruise shared how the ship holds a special place in their hearts, fondly referring to Grandeur of the Seas as, “Lady G”. 

Here’s how our experience onboard Royal Caribbean’s oldest and smaller ship was better than we envisioned.

While Royal Caribbean has been known for its ship design and advancement, it’s hard to believe Grandeur of the Seas was innovative at one point in history.

Royal Caribbean has been pushing the boundaries when it comes to cruise ship size for decades. In fact, the cruise line has held the title of biggest cruise ship in the world since 2006. 

Most agree that Royal Caribbean’s push towards innovation is one of the biggest contributors to the cruise line’s success. This has undoubtedly helped establish the company as one of the world’s leading cruise lines. 

But, back in the 1990s, innovation looked a lot different than it does today. Nearly three decades ago, Royal Caribbean was building ships for its new Vision Class. These vessels would debut as some of the biggest cruise ships in the world, measuring a modest 73,000 gross tons. While still not tiny for today’s standards, these ships offer an entirely different cruise experience.

Granduer of the Seas

When Grandeur of the Seas was first built, the ship was known for its sleek ship design, which featured a thoughtfully-designed layout. Other features included advanced technology onboard and widespread, panoramic views of the ocean. 

We read many negative reviews about sailing on Grandeur of the Seas in 2023, which had us questioning whether we wanted to book our cruise or not.

Looking online, it seemed as though people either loved sailing on Grandeur of the Seas or they absolutely hated it. Many websites cite Grandeur of the Seas as the worst ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, such as US News & World Travel.

Many felt the ship was boring and outdated. One person described the ship as, “old and raggedy” on Cruise Critic. Another felt like the ship only catered to an older crowd onboard without much to do. 

“The Grandeur of the Seas is the worse ship I’ve ever been on by FAR. It was rumored that this ship was going to be retired a few years ago and it should have,” said one upset reviewer.

I’ve also heard rumbles from other cruisers that Grandeur of the Seas was the worst cruise they had been on. Even our very own Matt from Royal Caribbean Blog said he considers Grandeur of the Seas to be Royal Caribbean’s worst ship!

Needless to say, my sister and I were a little hesitant to book this cruise. No one wants to spend their time or money just to experience a disappointing vacation. It had also been more than five years since my last time sailing on a Vision Class ship, so I was also eager to see what the current experience was like.

My sister and I booked a 4-night sailing from Tampa to visit Cozumel; our itinerary also featured two sea days. This was plenty of time for us to experience everything Grandeur had to offer, including dining, entertainment, activities and more. 

From the minute we stepped onboard, we were welcomed into the warm and inviting Centrum. 

The Centrum is a glass-covered atrium at the heart of Grandeur of the Seas and features multiple places to sit, most of which offer beautiful views of the sea. My sister and I found the Centrum to be one of our favorite places onboard during the cruise. We never had an issue finding a place to sit, even during boarding day. 

The first morning, we sipped on our coffee while watching the ocean pass by. I had forgotten this design feature on Vision Class ships - and it's one of the best aspects of Grandeur of the Seas. The glass panels allow so much natural light. You won’t forget that you’re on a cruise ship, unlike Royal Caribbean’s biggest ships. I find that on Oasis-class ships, it’s very easy to forget that you’re sailing on a cruise ship because it’s so massive and the indoor spaces lack natural light. 

In the evenings and during sea days, the atrium transformed into an entertainment venue for shows and live music. I remember my cruise on Vision of the Seas featured an aerial, acrobatic show in the Centrum, which was stunning! During our sailing, there was no atrium show offered and it appears these shows are no longer running on Vision-class ships. This is a shame, as it was a unique entertainment option and utilized the expansive space. 

Our sailing seemed to host a rowdier crowd, perhaps because Grandeur of the Seas offers cheap sailings.

One of the biggest surprises for this sailing was how rowdy our cruise was. Everyone was there to party! Honestly, you could have fooled me that this was a Carnival cruise with how many people were on the cruise to let loose and have a good time. I’ve never seen so many tables filled with empty beer and booze glasses!

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I was surprised to find a party crowd onboard. While many people worry about cruising during spring break, I had never thought about bachelorette and bachelor parties looking to cruise before the fall wedding season begins. My sister had just returned from a cruise the week prior, and she also found many wedding parties onboard celebrating the bride and groom. 

As such, the bars were constantly packed and I felt like the bartenders could not keep up. Everyone seemed to have the drink package, which kept the bartenders scrambling. Since Grandeur of the Seas only has a few bars overall, this meant they were always packed! 

But, the ambiance onboard was also very energetic with a younger demographic onboard. All of the interactive events - like the Love and Marriage Game Show and karaoke - were very fun and entertaining with this crowd. 

I envisioned that Grandeur of the Seas might attract an older crowd, but this wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps this is because our sailing was very cheap, around $466 each. For locals, this is a cheap getaway and the dates would be perfect over the weekend. 

I was particularly concerned about our stateroom’s condition, which we envisioned would be very outdated.

Last summer, I sailed onboard Carnival Ecstasy, which was the oldest ship in Carnival’s fleet at the time. The ship was built in 1991 and our cabin was very outdated. The worst part was the bathroom, which featured blue, squishy flooring and a toilet that was so close to the wall, we had to sit sideways. 

We had booked an inside cabin guarantee for this sailing and ended up in cabin 3505. Our stateroom was located at the very front of the ship on Deck 3. Inside cabins are typically barebones, although you have everything you need for a comfortable stay.

My sister and I were pleasantly surprised by the cabin’s good condition. The stateroom was 142 square feet, which is relatively small. The beds were very comfortable and we appreciated having a loveseat for additional seating. There was plenty of storage between the vanity’s drawers and the closet; we had more than enough space for our 4-night sailing.

The bathroom was the biggest surprise - in a good way! I was surprised to see the bathroom with light woodwork and white flooring. Most of the older ships that I’ve sailed on from the 1990s have colorful, yet outdated, bathrooms for their staterooms. For example, I sailed on Norwegian Sun this spring, which is one of Norwegian’s oldest cruise ships, and our bathroom was lime green!

The shower was the worst part of the bathroom, as it was oddly shaped like a trapezoid. The clingy curtain made the shower feel even more cramped.

Of course, it was also relatively small and we noticed there was little counter space to share near the sink. Because our bathroom also lacked any shelving, the counter became cluttered quickly. Honestly, the bathroom in our stateroom was in great condition and exceeded my expectations. 

The food onboard Grandeur of the Seas did not leave us disappointed, much to the contrary of others. 

One of the biggest complains we saw online was about the food onboard, with many complaining about the Windjammer’s quality and selection. “The food tasted like it was prepackaged. Horrible food selection,” stated one review.

During this sailing, we dined one evening at Giovanni’s Italian and then the other three evenings in the main dining room. Our specialty dining experience was excellent - my sister and I both loved our meals. We heard from many others onboard that the main dining room had a rough evening on the first night, with many people complaining about the food.

When we tried the main dining room for the first time, we were hesitant to see what others were talking about. However, we had delicious food and great service. Our neighbors, who did not like their meals on the first night, said the second night was much better. We also liked our meals on the other evenings in the dining room. 

The Windjammer buffet was more hit or miss. The first day, my sister had some pasta and pork that tasted very bland. I enjoyed my hot dog, but it’s hard to mess up a hot dog! We went back a few other times throughout and agreed the quality was hit or miss. I found there to be ample selection, but some items tasted better than others.

We also tried the other complimentary dining spot onboard, Park Cafe. This was located in the Solarium and served up pizza, salad and sandwiches. We grabbed lunch and snacks here during the cruise, and we thought the food and selection was decent. 

Overall, the highlight for us was specialty dining - as it should be when you pay extra for an elevated dining experience! However, we enjoyed our dinners in the main dining room even though this seemed to be a point on contention for others. The Windjammer was not our favorite - and the design of the space also lead to a hot and stuffy atmosphere. We did not spend much time in the Windjammer because of this. 

You won’t find dazzling entertainment onboard, but there were still plenty of activities and things to do.

You might be used to Royal Caribbean’s ships being filled with waterslides, zip lines, surf simulators and endless onboard thrills. However, Grandeur of the Seas is nothing like this. The top deck features one main pool and a few hot tubs. Nearby is the adults-only Solarium, which has another pool and hot tub. There is also a rock climbing wall on the aft of the ship.

But, I still think you can find plenty of things to do onboard. The entertainment staff is running activities and hosting events shows all day. You can find trivia, movies and game shows throughout the day, The sea days also feature the Men’s Belly Flop Competition and Sexiest Man competition, which are a hoot on the pool deck. 

In the evenings, entertainment is more limited when it comes to production shows. Some evenings only had one showtime for a certain production. We were able to see a comedian one night followed by a singing and dancing production by Royal Caribbean’s singers and dancers. Another night featured an impersonator as the headlining act. 

We enjoyed all of the shows onboard Grandeur of the Seas and never felt like we were bored. Were these shows absolutely jaw-dropping and life-changing? Not exactly. But, we still felt engaged and entertained.

I can see how a longer itinerary could feel more limited in this sense. A smaller ship is more limited in general for entertainment - and Royal Caribbean is known for having some of the most unique shows at sea (ice skating spectacles and high-diving shows, for example). If you’re looking to see the best of what Royal Caribbean offers for entertainment, you’ll want to sail on a newer and bigger ship.  

You might not find much pizzazz onboard, but Grandeur of the Seas shines with her simplicity.

I wanted to keep an open mind about our Grandeur of the Seas cruise. In all honesty, I’ve never disliked any of the 38 cruises that I’ve been on. My parents used to always say, “If you can’t find something you like on a cruise, there’s something wrong with you and not the cruise!”

In general, I’ve found this to be true. I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of a cruise experience, even if the ship is old and small like Grandeur of the Seas. 

Even still, I had low expectations for what the ship’s condition would be, along with what kind of cruise experience this ship would offer. Reading so many bad reviews had me and my sister a little hesitant about whether we would feel that our time and money spent was worthwhile. 

My sister and I were mostly looking to relax and enjoy being pampered for a few days. We wanted to have fun and sip a cocktail by the pool. In fact, this was one of the most relaxing cruises I’ve had in a while. I took a nap every single day - and I actually came back feeling refreshed. I’ve sailed on some cruises where I feel like I did so much that I needed a vacation from my vacation, but this was not the case.

Having a more simple cruise was just what I needed. There was no pressure to do everything and see everything because Grandeur of the Seas is more about just enjoying the sea life. Sometimes it is nice to disconnect from reality on a cruise and take advantage of the many quiet spaces onboard.

This was another lesson to take reviews with a gain of salt. I was impressed with Grandeur’s overall condition - honestly.

I anticipated that Grandeur of the Seas would be in similar condition to my recent experience on Carnival Ecstasy (with broken mirrors, rust everywhere and duct tape on the windows), but this was not the case. I would even argue that Grandeur of the Seas was in better condition than my last Royal Caribbean cruise on Jewel of the Seas over the summer.

We could tell the ship had been maintained very well - and we could even hear the constant maintenance throughout our cruise. There were not obvious signs of rust or wear and tear unless you were purposely looking for them. In general, the ship did not look its age. 

Would I want to do a transatlantic cruise on Grandeur of the Seas? Probably not. For a longer sailing with more sea days, I would want to be one a bigger ship with more modern amenities available.

For a short getaway, I thought Grandeur of the Seas was perfect. I would definitely book another cruise onboard without hesitation, although I would probably look for a port-intensive or destination-focused sailing. If you are looking to make Grandeur of the Seas your moving hotel while spending most of your days in port exploring, I think the ship’s size and age is perfectly suitable.

I sailed on Royal Caribbean's worst rated cruise ship. Here's what it was really like.

29 Sep 2023

The saying goes, “Age is just a number,” but is this really true when it comes to cruise ships?  

Allie sailing on Grandeur of the Seas

Last weekend, I set sail on Royal Caribbean’s worst rated cruise ship: Grandeur of the Seas. My itinerary was a quick 4-night sailing to Cozumel, but this was more than enough time to experience everything this old and small cruise ship had to offer. 

I’ve heard many cruisers state that Grandeur of the Seas is the worst ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. This perception is likely due to the ship’s old age and lack of modern amenities. In fact, I avoided sailing on this ship for many years because of this! 

Needless to say, Grandeur of the Seas’ reputation precedes her… and clearly not in the best way.

Worst cruise of my 23 cruises,” shared one reviewer on Cruise Critic. 

Another said the ship was a “nightmare” and the AC in their cabin did not work, leaving them to sleep in the heat.

Welcome to 1996. Ship is an old, rusty, rundown bucket. Cabins desperately need refurbishing,” wrote another reviewer. 

And it’s not just rumors that Grandeur of the Seas is the worst ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. According to US News & World Reports, Grandeur of the Seas was ranked the worst Royal Caribbean ship of the entire fleet. “While the ship boasts a rock climbing wall and six whirlpools, it lacks some of the modern amenities found on other Royal Caribbean ships, like a surf simulator and waterslides,” the review states. 

Additionally, Cruise Critic ranks Grandeur of the Seas with a below-average score of 3.9/5.0. The editorial review says, “The lack of top deck attractions poses an activity challenge for families; cabins feel dated.”

Some sailing on Grandeur of the Seas might feel catfished by Royal Caribbean; after all, the cruise line’s advertisements showcase new ships with tons of things to do onboard. Boarding Grandeur of the Seas is a stark contrast and I can see how this could lead to some disappointment.

While the cruise ship is far from tiny, measuring 73,000 gross tons, the onboard experience is vastly different than Royal Caribbean’s newest ships. During my short cruise, I had plenty of time onboard to see if the rumors were true. Here’s what it was really like to sail on Royal Caribbean’s worst rated ship. 

Grandeur of the Seas, which debuted in 1996 as part of the Vision class, is the oldest ship in the cruise line’s fleet

Royal Caribbean is known for building some of the biggest and most innovative cruise ships in the world. Most of the cruise line’s ships are filled with adrenaline pumping thrills, such as waterslides, zip lines, skydiving simulators and ice skating rinks. The newest cruise ships are so large that Royal Caribbean had to divide the ships into separate neighborhoods!

However, Royal Caribbean’s oldest cruise ships are a far cry from being big or innovative. You won’t find any onboard thrills on a Vision class ship, except for a rock climbing wall at the ship’s aft.

Grandeur of the Seas represents an entirely different era of cruising, one of intimacy and simplicity. Back in the 1990s, cruise ships were considered modestly sized and the onboard experience centered around relaxing on the pool deck with a drink in hand.

The ship went through a major refurbishment in 2012, costing $48 million to add new restaurants, onboard internet, Diamond Lounge, Concierge Lounge and entertainment venues. 

Back in 2019, it was announced that the ship would be sold to sister-brand Pullmantur Cruises, retiring Grandeur from the Royal Caribbean fleet. These plans were eventually reversed during the pandemic in mid-2020, presumably a financial decision.

Now, Grandeur of the Seas will be sailing for Royal Caribbean for the foreseeable future. 

While I’ve sailed on other Vision class ships before, I set my expectations very low for this weekend sailing

I’ve been cruising with Royal Caribbean for almost 20 years and I have sailed multiple times on Vision class ships. My very first Royal Caribbean cruise was onboard Enchantment of the Seas back in 2005. Although I was just a kid, the cruising experience still wowed me. 

I later sailed on Vision of the Seas in 2012 for my first European cruise with my family. The tiny ship whisked us from Norway to France, England, Ireland and Scotland. Seeing Paris was my lifelong dream at 16 years old - and Vision of the Seas made it happen!

Later, my husband and I sailed in 2018 on Rhapsody of the Seas for our honeymoon. It was a magical, port-intensive itinerary visiting ports in Italy, Greece and Croatia. 

Needless to say, I’ve had very positive and memorable experiences on Vision class ships! These small ships often sail on more interesting itineraries for an affordable price. For those who don’t need the glitz that you find on bigger cruise ships, Vision class ships can be a great choice. 

However, I had never sailed on Grandeur of the Seas before and it had been a while since my last Vision class cruise. My recent sailing on Jewel of the Seas - a slightly newer and bigger ship - left me slightly disappointed in the ship’s overall condition. I didn’t want to be disappointed this time around, so I anticipated that the ship would show its age. 

I figured I would see a lot of rust around the ship, including a poorly designed and dated stateroom. I think managing expectations is important when you book a cheap cruise, as I did not expect much from Grandeur of the Seas.

After boarding the ship in Tampa, we were pleasantly surprised by the ship’s condition

My sister and I made our way to Tampa to board Grandeur of the Seas for a weekend sailing to Cozumel. We had two sea days to enjoy the ship as well, which I was looking forward to. 

Once we boarded the ship, I started to look for signs of wear and tear. Given Grandeur’s reputation, I kept a keen eye to look for signs of deterioration and rust. 

To my surprise, Grandeur of the Seas appeared to be in very good condition! Of course, the ship felt older and her overall design was dated. But, it was not near as bad as I anticipated. Certainly there were few signs of rust as we wandered around the ship, but nothing outrageous. 

Not to mention, last summer I sailed on Carnival’s oldest cruise ship, Carnival Ecstasy, and that cruise ship was covered in rust. While we had a lot of fun, the ship was one month from retirement in the scrapyard. It was not surprising that the ship’s condition was subpar, along with most of the decor looking gaudy and outdated. We even saw duct tape on a porthole window!

(Carnival Ecstasy colorful hallway during August 2022 sailing)

The elevators and carpet were all in better-than-expected condition. It seemed as though the ship had been well maintained - it didn't feel like an old ship. Nothing looked extremely outdated or worn-down, which was a pleasant surprise. Based on all of the negative reviews I had seen, I truly expected the ship to be in rough condition. 

Almost immediately, I noticed how many spaces Grandeur of the Seas had to soak in ocean views

We entered the ship on Deck 5 into the center atrium of the ship. The six-story atrium, called the Centrum, is surrounded by glass walls and even a glass ceiling. It’s beautifully designed and lets in so much natural light.

Throughout the cruise, this became one of my favorite aspects of Grandeur of the Seas. There were so many spaces onboard where you could see the ocean and enjoy the views. The first morning, my sister and I sipped on our coffee while overlooking the glass panels in the Centrum. 

On Deck 5, you could quickly access the promenade deck if you wanted to get outside to see the sea views. I saw more people taking pictures with the sunset than ever! In the aft of the ship, we found a stunning view of the ship’s wake on the last night. 

Without all the commotion of a big cruise ship, I felt more relaxed being at sea. There was not pressure to do and try everything possible. Instead, I simply just enjoyed taking in the beautiful sea views and relaxing. 

This short cruise actually reminded me of my Semester at Sea experience in college. I sailed on a ship for four months while studying abroad. Our ship was one third of the size of Grandeur of the Seas and had just a small pool for activities. But, the experience was about the destinations, connecting with others and embracing the sea life.

My short time on Grandeur of the Seas brought be back to that time of being disconnected while living at sea.

We anticipated an outdated cruise cabin, especially considering we had booked the cheapest stateroom onboard

My sister and I didn’t want to blow too much money on this weekend cruise. We were surprised by the cheap prices we found for Grandeur of the Seas. For an inside cabin guarantee, we paid $466 each and this included gratuities, port fees and taxes. 

Read moreRoyal Caribbean cruise ship cabin and suite guide

Some of the reviews mentioned that Grandeur’s cabins were too outdated, but my sister and I didn’t find this a point of contention. Most of the ships we’ve sailed on recently also had outdated cabins, so perhaps we had realistic expectations. 

Again, we had low expectations for what our cabin experience would be like on Grandeur of the Seas. We were assigned cabin 3505, which was located on Deck 3. As with most guarantee cabins, our stateroom was located at the very front of the ship, which wouldn’t be my first choice. But, location is not as important to me on a short itinerary. 

Read moreThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

Our cabin was small, but had enough space for everything we needed. The square footage was right around 142 square feet. Everything in the cabin also felt well maintained. The cabin was outdated, but it felt similar in design and age to Radiance and Voyager class ships. 

The bathroom really surprised us! I fully anticipated to have a very outdated bathroom, but this appeared to be refurbished from the original design. The light woodwork nicely accented the white flooring, with a colorful backsplash.

The biggest disappointment in the cabin was our shower. It was oddly shaped and required the use of a clingy shower curtain. If you didn’t want the curtain to hug you throughout your shower, then you had to deal with wet floors in the bathroom. 

We only had one outlet each to share, which was a pain. I forgot to pack my USB extender, which made it more difficult to charge all of my devices efficiently. But, this was not surprising. Most older ships feature cabins that do not have modern amenities unless a cruise line has prioritized upgrading cabins on an older ship. Instead, maintenance is the priority.  

Overall, the cabin was comfortable and clean. It wasn’t modern by any means, but it certainly didn’t feel as outdated as I anticipated. We slept well each evening, and found ourselves spending more time in our cabin than usual because the ship did not have as much to do. It was a quiet, cozy space to return to each evening.

Many of the negative reviews mentioned that the food on Grandeur of the Seas was lackluster

Talking about cruise food is a hot topic, especially on a Royal Caribbean cruise. What one person loves, another might hate. The recently changed Main Dining Room menus have only added fuel to the fire. As such, food is generally more subjective and I take negative reviews with a grain of salt. 

Grandeur of the Seas has four complimentary dining venues: Windjammer, Main Dining Room, Park Cafe and Cafe Latitudes. There are also specialty dining options: Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Izumi and Chef’s Table. 

The first evening, we dined in Giovanni’s Table to take advantage of our BOGO Diamond Plus benefit. We had an amazing meal, consisting of carbonara, gnocchi, burrata caprese salad and filet mignon. The service was wonderful and we enjoyed the quiet ambiance. 

Read more: The Crown and Anchor perks you should use on every Royal Caribbean cruise

However, we heard from many fellow guests that the dinner in the Main Dining Room on the first night was not good. Since we didn’t dine there the first night, we did not experience this. The remaining three evenings during our sailing, we had dinner in the Main Dining Room. We enjoyed our meals and the service was great! 

The final evening, we witnessed quite the send-off party with waiters dancing around the tables Greek style!

Some even jumped on the table and chairs to dance. It was an absolute riot with everyone in the dining room joining in the fun! I loved seeing the waiters letting loose and having fun as well.

On the other hand, the Windjammer buffet was less impressive

It was strange to me that the Windjammer buffet was located at the front of the ship. The venue was covered with glass, even on the ceiling. While this gave nice views of the sea, the buffet always felt stuffy. We couldn’t sit in there too long without being uncomfortably hot. 

My sister said most of the things she tried in the Windjammer tasted a bit bland, while I had better luck with my selections. Breakfast was better than lunch, at least in our experience. There were plenty of options to choose from, and we never had an issue finding a table. 

In general, the Windjammer was a hit or miss. Normally, I don’t have any issues with the Windjammer onboard Royal Caribbean, but it did feel more inconsistent on Grandeur of the Seas. My sister also agreed that her food seemed bland in comparison to her other cruises. 

The Solarium onboard also featured another complimentary dining option: Park Cafe

I was surprised to see a Park Cafe onboard Grandeur of the Seas, which was located in the corner of the adults-only Solarium. This is where you could grab a snack during off-hours when the Windjammer is closed; for example, between 3pm and 6pm, this is one of the only places to grab food.

Park Cafe was bigger than a typical Solarium Cafe. There were options for soups, sandwiches, pizza and dessert. There was also a dedicated salad bar! Since Grandeur of the Seas does not have Royal Caribbean’s signature Sorrento’s, this was the only place to come get complimentary pizza. 

We grabbed snacks here a few times during our cruise - and everything tasted great! The pizza was nothing to get excited about, but it tasted good. 

When it comes to entertainment, Grandeur of the Seas had simple production shows and activities

Some of Royal Caribbean’s bigger ships have Broadway-style productions, high diving shows and ice skating spectacles. However, you won’t find anything of the like on Grandeur of the Seas.

Instead, everything is relatively simple onboard for entertainment. Each evening, you can find one production in the Palladium theatre. During our sailing, this consisted of a comedy show, an impersonator and a show called Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme. Some shows only had one time, so we were unable to attend one evening because of our dinner time. 

Activities during the day were also limited to trivia, adult coloring, a belly flop contest, volleyball and the sexiest man competition. In the evening, you could attend events like karaoke and game shows. There was also live music around the ship, along with big themed parties in the evenings - like Hush Disco and the 70s party.

We found that the activities were busy, but might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Since the cruise ship had little to do for kids and teens, it seemed like many kids joined into the adult competitions. This could be avoided with activities that were specially designated for adults versus families. 

Considering Grandeur of the Seas only has one main pool available for kids and a rock climbing wall, this ship would not be suitable for children. This is likely why we did not see many kids onboard, as I would guess many would be bored. I’d suggest a Voyager class ship or newer if you want to bring your kids onboard and be confident that they would have enough to do to keep busy.

Regardless, my sister and I had a good time each evening with the entertainment. Nothing wowed us, but we never felt bored. 

Our sailing was packed with bachelorette parties, family reunions and large groups traveling together - and the bars could not keep up

Everyone worries about spring break partiers, but I don’t see many people mention bachelorette and bachelor parties on cruises! During this sailing, we saw tons of people celebrating a bride or groom onboard. This is likely because our sailing was cheap and short, along with the fact that many people get married in the fall.

Because of this, our sailing was one big party! The bars were constantly packed, so much so that I often didn’t want to wait in line to get a drink. Grandeur of the Seas only has a few bars, including the pool bar, Solarium bar and Schooner bar. At any given hour of the day, these were packed.

We also noticed tables of empty drink cups during our cruise. It was as if one person set down their empty drink glass and then everyone followed, although this area was not a place for empty cups. I think the staff had a hard time keeping up with all of the drinking. 

I have never seen the bars be so consistently busy. I think with so many groups traveling together, many people purchased the drink package. The bartenders were doing their best to keep up - and my liver probably thanks me for not having too much to drink!

Overall, Grandeur of the Seas exceeded my expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate to sail onboard again

Because my expectations were low, I was anticipating the ship to be rusty and worn down. I am pleased to say that the ship exceeded my expectations! 

We found the ship to be in relatively good condition for being 26 years old. The service onboard was also fantastic, and we also liked the food and entertainment. It almost felt like we were looking for things to be wrong so we could see what the negative reviews were stating. 

The internet was more reliable than expected - Grandeur of the Seas is even outfitted with Starlink. We were able to stream and FaceTime without issue, even in our cabin. I wouldn’t be concerned trying to get some work done if needed onboard. 

After this experience, I truly would not hesitate to book another sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas or any other Vision class ship. Sailing on a smaller ship had its perks, such as fewer crowds and easy access to everything onboard. You were never too far away from your cabin or the destination you were heading.

We spent most of our downtime in the Solarium relaxing on the loungers. We never had an issue finding an empty chair, which is very different than Royal Caribbean's bigger ships. In general, Grandeur of the Seas never felt too crowded and most places onboard felt spacious. It was a nice change to not feel cramped, which is often a complaint of the bigger, mega cruise ships.

However, I wouldn’t want to sail on Grandeur of the Seas with too many sea days. There is not much to do onboard and I would probably get a little bored after too much time on the ship. If there was a port-intensive itinerary where the destination was the focus of the cruise, I would be totally comfortable sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas. 

Q&A: What is it like to sail on Grandeur of the Seas this week?

22 Jan 2022

Are you wondering about the onboard experience on Grandeur of the Seas?

Grandeur of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

We had so much fun answering questions about what it's like to sail on Harmony of the Seas this week, that RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Keeley reached out to volunteer to answer questions about sailing on Grandeur of the Seas.

Keeley is on a Southern Caribbean cruise on Grandeur of the Seas, and answered questions about her experience sailing so far on this itinerary.

You can follow Keeley on her blog, which she describes as focusing on great food, even better booze and balanced travel. 

Can you describe the pre-arrival process for sailing from Barbados, and how difficult or easy was it to get everything?

Our flight from the UK arrived at the same time as 3 other flights so there was a bit of a wait at the first check point at Barbados airport with no air conditioning, so it was a little uncomfortable but not unbearable. The queue moved steadily for the vaccination/test staff to check our documents. We were then given a coloured wrist band depending on our test information. 

After this, our suitcases were already waiting for us and we went straight through immigration. Onto the bus to go to the port and we were there in 30 minutes. 

At the port we had already booked a time for our pre-boarding antigen tests, so we waited 10 minutes and then 30 minutes for the results. 

From getting off the plane to being in our cabin, was around 2.5 hours. 

How many passengers are onboard?

There are 630 passengers onboard. 

Have you noticed any changes to the entertainment line up?

There has been some technical difficulties with the silent disco so this hasn't happened. Roki rokie karaoke was cancelled 2 nights for the same reason.

Last night's tango show was cancelled due to potential Covid symptoms amongst the dance team, but it was replaced by the guest act, who were fabulous! 

How is Adventure Ocean operating on this cruise?

Rhapsody of the Seas Live Blog Day 1 - Embarkation Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

There are very few kids onboard this Grandeur of the Seas sailing, but it is open. An Adventure Ocean crew member described the current situation as follows:

Adventure Ocean is open, although there are only 11 kids in total onboard (5 are registered for Adventure Ocean).  For these kids, all sessions are there 9:30-12:00, 14:00-17:00, 19:00-22:00 + Late Night Party Zone for parents who want to leave their kids until midnight.

The Teens Club is not open because there is only one teen onboard. The staff indicated they offered the teen other forms of entertainment.

The nursery is not open all day because there is just one toddler onboard. In fact, the Adventure Ocean manager has informed parents that they can book nursery any time they seem fit, which they did a couple of times.

What is the embarkation process like in Barbados?


From arriving at port to boarding, was around 45 minutes. After the antigen test, we were advised that we would receive our result by email. I didn't get mine but they checked their system and were able to confirm my results with no issue.

There was ample space for people to wait with seating and water should people want it whilst waiting. 

Have there been any itinerary changes?

Before leaving the UK, we had Trinidad and Tobago changed to St Lucia and Dominica. St Lucia was further changed to Antigua.

On boarding we were advised that Colombia had been removed and changed for a sea day, so only the 1 stop to be removed completely.

Not itinerary changes but we have had a few trips cancelled, so it is worth asking excursion services which trips are the most popular to prevent this from happening. 

Any advice for someone sailing on Grandeur soon?

I'd recommend booking the antigen test required for boarding ahead of travelling as you will need to complete the same request whether you do it at the port or before, so it definitely saves time! 

In a similar vein, I'd recommend bringing a printed copy of vaccination documents so they are to hand easily to show. 

Check the itinerary carefully as some ports currently do not allow you to get off the ship without a trip booked through Royal Caribbean. 

Royal Caribbean will offer cruises from Barbados in December 2021

13 Jan 2021

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering roundtrip cruises from Barbados at the end of 2021 on Grandeur of the Seas.

The new itineraries were announced on Wednesday, which will the first time Royal Caribbean has offered a homeport from Barbados.

Get ready for sun-soaked adventures to captivating southern Caribbean isles onboard Grandeur of the Seas, sailing from the newest Royal Caribbean home port — beautiful Bridgetown, Barbados. With its idyllic pink-sand beaches, emerald hills and valleys, and rich Bajan flavor, Barbados is an unforgettable destination in its own right. And for the first time ever, this tropical paradise unlocks spectacular shores in the southern Caribbean, Central America and beyond — including three new ports in Tobago, Trinidad and St. Vincent. Go the extra mile to go the extra isle on weeklong escapes that hit a different destination every day, or linger longer on 14-night adventures that offer late stays and overnights in top-rated ports. The adventure begins in Barbados, Winter 2021

The new sailings run between December 2021 and April 2022, although more sailings could be added if the sailings prove to be popular.

A variety of 7-night sailings are available to book immediately. There are three different itineraries, including two separate 7-night sailings and a 14-night sailing with stops in St. Lucia, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and more.

Royal Caribbean is also working on adding  options for embarkation tours (ending at the pier) and debarkation tours (ending at the airport). These options will include panoramic bus tours and beach stops. These options are a work in progress and have not yet been finalized.

Being a Caribbean island, getting to Barbados means taking a flight, and Royal Caribbean is working on a new system that will allow guests to book outside of 11 months for certain cities that will have nonstop flights to Barbados.

This new functionality will be available in February 2021 for the U.S.

Royal Caribbean will offer transportation between the Barbados airport and the cruise terminal.

A close relationship with Barbados

Ever since the cruise industry shutdown in March 2020, the government of Barbados has been open to working with Royal Caribbean.

It has been an open port for cruise ships to use for resupply and crew member repatriation.

In addition, the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Force is co-chaired with Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley.

While Royal Caribbean did not mention it as part of their announcement, sailings from Barbados do have an extra benefit of being outside the purview of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Since Grandeur of the Seas would sail from Barbados and not visit any U.S. ports, it would not be subject to regulations and requirements of the CDC.

Special offer for repeat cruisers

In addition to today's announcement, Royal Caribbean is offering a special promotion for members of the cruise line's customer loyalty program.

A special one-day preview of  up to$450 instant savings offer, which is on top of 60% off the second guest's fare. 

The Up to $300 Off Preview Sale provides Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members with an additional day to take advantage of our savings offer.

Up to $300 Off Preview Sale applies to new bookings made on 1/13/21.

Up to $300 Off Preview Sale provides instant savings of up to $300 USD per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after 5/1/21. Savings amount determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • On sailings 5 nights or less, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $300 for Suites.

Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean.

Two Royal Caribbean cruise ships will stay in British Virgin Islands temporarily

09 Jan 2021

Royal Caribbean has received permission for two of its cruise ships to remain in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in a state of warm lay-up.

The BVI Ports Authority announced on Friday that Rhapsody of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas have been given permission for technical calls and warm lay-ups in Tortola.

Strict health and safety rules were agreed to by both the Port Authority and the cruise line, which will allow the ships to remain in the BVI starting on January 11, 2021 for an initial period of thirty (30) days for a warm lay-up.

Neither ship will have passengers onboard, and the purpose of this agreement is so that the ships can remain in port and refuel, take on provisions and spare parts, and possibly other services.

Acting Managing Director, Oleanvine Maynard said, "Crew members will not be allowed to disembark and there is no access to vessels from shore-based staff during stays in the BVI."

This deal allows Royal Caribbean to take care of necessary maintenance and technical concerns, while the BVI reaps economic benefits.

The BVIPA believes that maintaining a link with and continuing to service the cruising industry in the safe manner proposed with technical calls/warm lay-ups can be a vital part of the rebooting strategy. 

What is a warm lay-up?

When cruise ships are not in use, they are either in warm or cold lay-up. This refers to which state they are in of being temporarily shutdown.

The decision to send a ship into cold lay-up depends on the long term plans the company has for the ship.

Royal Caribbean presented their plans to the BVI Ports Authority about what the ships will do and other details pertaining to a warm lay-up.

Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Hernan Zini, said the ships will be carrying out refueling, repairs and start-up activities.

All of Royal Caribbean's ships are in a state of warm lay-up, which means the ships can return to service quickly because the machinery, lifesaving equipment and navigational equipment are all well-kept and up to date.

The engine department and deck department remain fairly close to fully manned in a warm lay-up.

Cold lay-ups save money in the short term, but take longer to get back into service once the cruise line wants to reactivate the ship.

However, when a ship goes into cold lay-up, many of the mechanical systems are taken offline, with just the bare essentials left online to preserve the ship. A prolonged cold lay-up can even go as far as to preserve sections of the ship by hermetically sealing off rooms.

Read moreWhat does it mean when a cruise ship goes into cold lay-up?

Royal Caribbean will keep Grandeur of the Seas in the fleet

26 Aug 2020

Royal Caribbean will keep Grandeur of the Seas in the fleet instead of transferring her out to another cruise line.

The cruise line informed travel agents on Wednesday that it has cancelled plans to move Grandeur out of the fleet in Spring 2021 and send her to Pullmantur.

"With the recent news surrounding Pullmantur, Grandeur of the Seas will remain as a part of our Royal Caribbean International fleet. Once we have more information, we’ll be sure to share the details and look forward to many more memories to be made sailing on her!"

Royal Caribbean had planned to move Grandeur of the Seas, with the announcement made in October 2019 she would leave the fleet.

Since then Pullmantur Cruises has filed for bankrupcy protection and sold her ships off to be scrapped.

In light of this financial turmoil for Pullmantur, the move of Grandeur seemed unlikely to some, but today's news confirms Grandeur of the Seas will remain in the fleet.

The final sailing of Grandeur was scheduled for March 26, 2021, but new sailings will be announced.

Grandeur of the Seas is a Vision Class ship, and has been sailing out of Baltimore.  It is unclear if Grandeur will remain in Baltimore, or move to another port.  In conjunction with the announcement Grandeur was leaving the fleet, Royal Caribbean said it would move Enchantment of the Seas to Baltimore to replace Grandeur.

Grandeur of the Seas to leave Royal Caribbean fleet

16 Oct 2019

Royal Caribbean announced today it will transfer Grandeur of the Seas out of its fleet and will join sister brand, Pullmantur Cruises in spring 2021.

In a statement to travel agents, Royal Caribbean talked about the decision for Grandeur to leave the fleet:

"As we continue to grow the Royal Caribbean brand and develop new offerings, we will begin retiring our more seasoned ships. We know this news is bittersweet, but we’re excited that she’ll join our sister brand, Pullmantur Cruises in the spring 2021. Her story isn’t finished yet!"

Grandeur of the Seas’ final sailing with Royal Caribbean will take place on March 26th, 2021. Thereafter, she will transition to Pullmantur. Enchantment of the Seas, will return to Baltimore to replace Grandeur in spring of 2021.

At this time, there are two sailings impacted by the transition timeline. Grandeur of the Seas’ April 3rd, 2021 and April 15th, 2021 departures will be canceled and all booked guests will be re-accommodated. Impacted guests and travel partners will be contacted shortly with the details.

Grandeur's final sailing for Royal Caribbean International will be March 26th, 2021.

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