I was disappointed with our cruise experience for the following reasons, in order of occurrence. The first impression of our stateroom, Deck Seven, Category D1, was indeed a letdown. "Shabby" is the first word that came to mind—the bedspread, window treatments, and carpeting looked as though they had never been updated since the ship had been initially launched. The bathroom sink was badly chipped and the room had an unpleasant odor, which, of course, was not noticeable to the room steward.
One of the things we were most looking forward to was our dining experience, both for the food and the company. I am under the impression that I requested to be placed at large table, thinking that would mean 8-10 people. You may be able to understand our disappointment the first evening when we were placed at a table of six—and the other three people never showed. In fact, they dined at our table only two of the nights. To make things worse, our table was at the rear of the dining room, next to the staircase. In fact, we were placed so close to the staircase that I commented Ifelt like Harry Potter—living in the 'cupboard' under the staircase. The railing of the staircase curves around, which made us feel even more enclosed. My husband spoke to both the headwaiter and maitre-d the first evening AND successive evenings, but was repeatedly told there wasn't another table available. The table next to us had three empty seats at least three evenings, and I asked if we could sit at that table when the other diners did not show. We were denied that accommodation also. I find it difficult to believe that we could not have been accommodated in some way—we even offered to come to the later seating. Would this situation have been resolved had we not been so naive and had placed extra money in the maitre-d's hand? Now I wonder.
Our stateroom was located directly above the South Pacific Lounge that had a band playing until after 1 a.m. The base resonated loudly, even though I wore earplugs. At 1 a.m. I called the Purser's Desk to ask how long the music would be playing. She responded that it would be ending shortly, and that this should be the only night that there would be music in the lounge. However, the next night the same thing occurred. The third day of the cruise, therefore, I went to the Purser's desk and spoke with Edison, and I was not in a very good mood. I asked him to please change our room if this was going to be a nightly occurrence. I was first told that my travel agent should have told us that this room was over the lounge and this was to be expected. When I refused to allow him to pass the buck, he then said that no other rooms were available. I questioned the truthfulness of this statement, considering all the things that could go wrong in a stateroom—I can't believe there wouldn't be an available room anywhere on board to take care of emergencies. There was a slight shift in his attitude when I suggested that I would join another passenger who had told Edison that he would be sleeping on the couches in the Centrum if his room situation was not resolved.
The following evening there was music in the lounge below us until shortly after midnight. Nothing changed with our dining situation. Edison was kind enough to send champagne and fruit to our room. Our dining table mates showed on the fourth evening of the cruise, and wasn't I surprised to hear the mother ask "And how do you like the music below us? I haven't been able to sleep." When I asked if she had said anything, she stated she had not—her daughter didn't want her to. This is exactly what businesses hope, isn't it—that people will grin and bear it? My husband was exchanging pleasantries with the people in the stateroom next door to us—they had three young sons—and their only complaint was the music at night prevented them from getting a good night's sleep.
I have requested compensation from the cruise line for the problems we experienced, but have received only vouchers (2--and there are 3 of us) for $50 for a future cruise, which will never happen. I don't recommend this ship or cruise line--anyone who complains is expected to grin and bear it and nothing is done to remedy problems.
This was my 34th cruise overall and my third on the Grandeur.
The last time I was on the Grandeur was Christmas three years ago and I was amazed at the difference three years makes in appearances on a ship that has not been well cared for.
The ship was filthy especially in the pool area where there was mildew, dust and rust everywhere. The undersides of the cushions on the pool table chairs were black with mildew. The pool bar glasses were streaked and dirty. The carpet was torn and worn. If one looked carefully, all open areas were dirty and rust was very pronounced in most places.
Embarkation was well run and I was on board by 11:30. After a quick tour of the public spaces on the ship I had lunch at the Windjammer Café. The food is good but what one might expect in any large cafeteria.
At 13:00 Hrs. we were allowed in our cabins. Mine was a Junior Suite on deck seven at the stern of the ship. The cabin is quite spacious especially for one person and was priced the same as an ordinary balcony cabin.The bonus is the balconies on the stern cabins are twice as deep as those elsewhere. But here again, RCCL's insistence on intense cash flow by keeping the ship moving shows up. The carpet on the balcony was worn through to metal. It has been painted and you can see mildew and holes throughout the entire balcony floor. I had trepidations about going out there barefooted. Also rust was rearing its ugly head in many spots. The beds in the cabin were lumpy and sagging. Another greed area is the cabin mini-bar. In fact, it is a small fridge with two waters, cokes, and sprites. No beer or liquor or snacks.
This brings me to another subject. RCCL strictly enforces their no alcohol from ashore policy. A friend of mine with whom I travel with extensively had two liters of liquor in his bag and they confiscated his bag and the liquor and he was told if he made an issue of it they would put him off the ship at the next port. He did get his bag back but not the liquor. My bottle of scotch came through fine. I will not reveal how I sneak it on but if you write to me and ask I will divulge my secret. I understand any company wanting to maximize profit but most adults like a drink in their cabin from time to rime. RCCL should either allow one to purchase liquor in their onboard stores (At street prices) and have stocked mini bars or both. Holland America does this and I don't have to sneak it on.
Dining in the Great Gatsby Dining room was good. The food was VERY good and the service was done very well. We had some wonderful table mates and looked forward to our meals. The only distraction is RCCL makes their dining staff march and sing and put on some show almost every evening. I am sure I am in a minority as others seem to enjoy it. I find it most distasteful.
My favorite spot on the ship was The Schooner Bar on deck six. It is centrally located and almost everyone on the ship passes by there at one time or another. I met some wonderful folks there and it became a nightly gathering place for us all. The service in that bar is superlative!
This brings up another issue. This cruise had 649 children onboard. In order for them to maintain their sugar highs they are permitted to purchase their cokes etc. at any bar. Most of these children were rude and ran in packs. They would descend upon the bar like hoards and disrupt all conversation. It would be much nicer to insist that children be banned from adult lounges and be confined to drink in their designated areas. (Especially smoking areas)
The ports of call were Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and San Miguel Cozumel. Unfortunately the cruise industry has oversaturated the market. There were six ships on Grand Cayman. There were three ships at Costa Maya and there were seven ships at the island of Cozumel. Considering each ship had an average of about 2800 passengers the volume of people onshore was staggering. I used to love going to Costa Maya and Grand Cayman but the quieter times there are now but a good memory.
I did not go to the shows nor did I utilize ship sponsored shore excursions. Therefore I have no comment. I did go the onboard lectures and in particularly enjoyed the lecture regarding prostitution in New Orleans by Mrs. Pam Arceneaux. She also gave two others that concerned Voodoo and the ethnic background of the culinary foods of Louisiana. RCCL would be wise to book her more often.
Disembarkation was easy and no problem. I was off the ship by 8:30 and home in Fairhope, AL by 11:15.
Overall the cruise was fun and enjoyable. I now know I'll never cruise the Western Caribbean again and I doubt if I'll cruise RCCL again. For me it's back to the clean and extremely well run Holland America Line.
There was a small outbreak of the Norwalk Virus onboard. One crew member told me there were sixteen cases. (Cleanliness?)
I will be happy to elaborate on any issue regarding this cruise by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We departed on what was destined to become one of our most memorable vacation trips ever on Friday, August 31st, when we boarded a flight at Tampa International Airport for Atlanta, Georgia, where we transferred to a flight that was leaving late that afternoon for Rome, Italy. >From there, we were transported by bus to the harbor town of Civitavecchia, Italy, where awaited The Grandeur of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Line, the 1,800-passenger cruise ship which was to be our "home away from home" for the next fourteen days, as we proceeded to enjoy what surely was luxury by design, beginning with our beautiful and spacious stateroom, which housed a king-sized bed, which could be converted into two single beds; multiple drawer and closet space, a sitting area with a very comfortable sofa and two soft and plush armchairs and our own private balcony, where we could enjoy the fresh Sea and Ocean air during this delightful cruise while relaxing on the two comfortable lounge chairs that were provided for us out there.
Our cruise began with the compulsory "muster drill", in order to acquaint us with what was to be ourassigned "muster station", in the unlikely event of an emergency at sea. At these stations were located the lifeboats which were to be boarded, should we be required to "jump ship" at any time during our cruise. Later on, we all assembled in the Great Gatsby Dining Room, where we were escorted to our assigned dinner tables, and where we met for the first time our assigned tablemates, who numbered eight of the most friendly and sociable people we had ever met: four single women and two married couples, like ourselves. This went a long way toward making our cruise a most enjoyable one and most of our lunches, as well as all of our dinners, events to be greatly anticipated, together with the delicious food that was served to us for the duration of our cruise. Additional dining was also provided, buffet-style, at the Windjammer Cafe, and coffee was available at all times just outside this cafe. Pizza and hot dogs were also served in the Solarium, where the swimming pool and hot tubs were located. Of course, there was also the traditional "Midnight Buffet" in four different locations on board the ship, for "night owls" who wished to partake of this service. Ellis and I, of course, decided to pass on that and were well into "dreamland" at that hour.
For recreation on board the ship, we had a great variety of sports, fitness and fun for both adults and children. I personally enjoyed using the gym, located near the very top of the ship and just two decks above where our stateroom was located, followed by fifteen very relaxing minutes in one of the hot tubs and then a few of these in the sauna, located in the Solarium, and then a one-hour nap in our cabin, with our scheduled 6:00 p.m. dinner not long after that. Other activities provided for our enjoyment included, of course, duty-free shopping on board, art auctions, Bingo and gambling, beauty seminars, exercise classes, fitness "Walk-A-Thons", port lectures, swimming, music for our listening and dancing pleasure throughout the day and evening, adult karaoke and, of course, the highlight of each day: evening entertainment, which included, first of all, the Welcome Aboard Show, starring a juggling team named the Duo Dillon. This and all subsequent shows were hosted by our cruise director, a very entertaining young man, himself, by the name of Kyle Dodson, and included a variety of comic, musical and dance performances, which among others, featured "Tapestry, A Tribute to Carol King"; presented by the Royal Caribbean Sings and Dancers; Mario D'Andrea, "a mixed-up Italian from Australia, direct from LasVegas"; Barbara Fiorino, a very talented Italian singer; a unique music adventure which took us "around the world" with a very talented pianist by the name of Naki Ataman; a show entitled "The Beat Goes On", a production featuring memorable tunes from the sixties and seventies and presented by The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers; "International Singing Sensation", Renato Pagliari, who entertained us with some beautiful operatic numbers; the multi-talented "Guse Family", who accompanied their own unique singing style with violin music; a Russian concert violinist named Jacob Konviser; the Duprees, a popular vocal quartet who back in the "fabulous fifties", popularized the love songs, "You Belong To Me" and "Have You Heard"; a comedy presentation by the "Liar's Club", consisting of four members of the ship's Royal Caribbean entertainment staff, who sat on stage and were asked to define several not-so-well-known words from our English dictionaries. The audience, who were previously to this asked to form its own groups, was then asked to vote for the staff members, after each word was announced, who they thought were giving the correct definitions of the words, following which the member who was, indeed, doing so in each case was asked to stand up and make his presence known. Our final evening show was preceded by the "Guest Talent Show", in which I happily participated by singing the popular sixties Andrew Lloyd Webber show tune, "I Don't Know How To Love Him", accompanied by a very talented pianist, to whose music Ellis and I had danced numerous times in the Centrum, a most elegant area located in the center of the ship and which can be seen from four stories up from the fourth deck where the marble dance floor is situated.
Our ports of call were quite memorable and enjoyable, as well. We began visiting them when our "floating luxury hotel" docked at Livorno, Italy, on Day Two of the cruise. Livorno belongs to the region of Tuscany, which incorporates the west coast area of central Italy and includes the historic and culturally significant towns of Florence and Pisa. We had met, on the Internet, a lovely young couple from Ireland, and it was with them that we decided to take our own walking tour through the downtown area of Livorno, with which, sad to say, we were not favorably impressed.
Our next port of call was Villefranche, a small, coastal town located in the heart of the French Riviera, which stretches from St.Tropez to Menton on the Italian border, and includes the cosmopolitan towns of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. While there, we took a professionally guided tour through along the coast leaving Villefranch en route to Cannes and through the jet set City of Nice. We then visited the charming and modern city of Cannes, home to the Festival Palace where the International Film Festival is celebrated. Here we strolled along La Creosote, Cannes' seafront promenade. At the village of Grass we visited the Galimard Perfume Factory, where we were guided through the factory to see first-hand how fragrances are created. We then had the opportunity to purchase perfumes, soaps and creams in their shop.Villefranche is a charming little town nestled against the hillside, overlooking the bay between Nice and Monte Carlo, to Cannes, located approximately 28 miles fromVillefranche. Cannes was the first resort on the Cote d'Azur and each year in the month of May it attracts members of the "Jet Set" for the famous Film Festival. The chic and the elegant display their wealth in the exclusive hotels that line the sea-front along Boulevard de la Croisette. We then were treated with a delicious French luncheon at a nearby restaurant, after which our tour continued to the charming village of St. Paul-de-Vence. This beautiful setting of ancient walls and medieval stone buildings has enchanted visitors since the sixteenth century. We then enjoyed strolling along the village's narrow alleyways and browsing the many art galleries and craft shops. This walk from the bus park in St. Paul-de-Vence is approximately a half-mile uphill over even surfaces. Walking in the village, however, over cobblestone streets and pathways included some inclines and five to ten steps.
Day 5 of our cruise was spent at sea, where we were once again able to familiarize ourselves with and enjoy all the delightful activities that were available to us throughout the ship. Following this, on Day 6, we docked at Malaga, located along the Southern Coast of Spain and known to many as the capitol of the Costa del Sol, or "Sun Coast". With resort towns bordering the city both to the east and the west, Malaga is a very popular attraction to many visitors throughout Europe. The city is very busy, and one of its unique characteristics is its small garden lined streets that tend to be hidden by newer high rises. Beyond Malaga is the famous region of Andalusia, an area which stretches across theSouth of Spain and includes such famous sites as the city of Granada and the Palace of Alhambra. The region is also known for its lovely villageswith whitewashed cottages. While there we took a 2 1/2-hour walking tour up and down cobblestoned hills and through numerous and picturesque courtyards and gardens, then enjoyed a delicious luncheon at an authentic Spanish restaurant.
On Day 7 we docked at Gibraltar, where the world famous Rock of Gibraltar could be seen throughout our tour. Gibraltar is a peninsula of mainland Spain. It is a small strip of land, approximately three miles long and a mile wide, dominated by "the Rock", which reaches a height of 1,400 feet. Gibraltar, known in ancient times as one of the two "Pillars of Hercules", juts out into the Mediterranean, separated from Morocco by the Strait of Gibraltar, which is just fourteen miles across. The population of this small British colony is approximately 30,000, made up largely by Iberians, North Africans and British inhabitants. Here we took the "Gibraltar Insight" tour, which took us on a journey around the Rock via the lower road by the sea. During this tour we passed Gibraltar's unique airport runway, one of the smallest in the world, as we rode along the border of theSpanish Frontier. Crossing to the eastern side via Devil's Tower Road, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the north face of the Rock and limestone water catchments towering 400 meters up one side. Continuing past Gibraltar's only fishingvillage of CatalanBay, we traveled through the manmade tunnels built during WWII to Europa Point. Here stands Gibraltar's lighthouse, where from this southernmost tip of Gibraltar we could see the coast of Africa, just twelvemiles across the Strait ofGibraltar. We then visited Nelson's Anchorage for a short walk through the installation of the 100-ton gun., which protected the entrance to the Bay of Gibraltar from enemy ships. At theGibraltar Museum, which was originally built on the site of a Moorish bath, a guide explained Gibraltar's turbulent history from the stone age through eighteen sieges of Roman,Carthaginian, Phoenician, Moorish, Spanish, Dutch and finally, British occupation. Of special interest is the large model of the "Rock" made in the eighteenth century, depicting the original city and its fortifications.
Day 8 found us in Lisbon, Portugal, where we took a morning bus tour. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is situated on a range of low hills at the estuary of the River Tagus and is approximately six miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a hilly city paved with cobblestones, with magnificent views, especially from Alto Do Parque Belvedere, Rossio Square, in the heart of the city, which is one of the busiest. From here the mile-long Avenida de Liberdade leads to the statue of Pombal, who re-planned the city after the earthquake. While in Lisbon we took a most delightful and informative tour, which included a most enjoyable visit to the Maritime Museum, tracing Portugal's long history with the sea from the end of the middle ages to the twentieth century. Free time was allocated to us at the museum to explore the collection of Royal Barges and statues of Portugese sailors in various dress that was the style in each of the various years in which they served. Lisbon is both the westernmost and oldest capital city of Europe, with a population of just over one million inhabitants. We returned to the ship just in time for lunch, after which the ship departed at 6:00 p.m. for Ponta Delgada in the Azores, after one full relaxing and enjoyable Day 9 at sea.
Ponta Delgada is the capital of Sao Miguel, the largest island of the mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago and known to locals as the "green island" because of its lush foliage. The island and its capital attracts more visitors than any other island in the archipelago, due to its many attractions, including its untouched landscapes, volcanic formations, charming beaches and tourist facilities. Today Sao Miguel is the most important political and administrative center of the Azores, which covers an area of 373 miles. The nine volcanic islands that make up this archipelago rest some 900 miles off the coast of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Legend has it that the Azores are that of the lost city of Atlantis.
The last four days of this, our wonderful cruise was spent at sea, during which we received the shocking news of the attack against America. It was then that extra security precautions were taken both while we were still at sea and then encountered while we were debarking the ship at the Boston Harbor, followed by an originally unplanned overnight stay at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Boston and a morning flight for us exactly 24 hours later than originally planned out of Logan Airport in Boston.
While at sea, we were given a minimal amount of information about this attack and were not provided with satellite transmission. There were about nine computers in the computer room, and we were all relying on this information to know what was going on in our country. The captain kept altering our course, stating that there was a hurricane headed toward Boston, which was to be our final port of call.
Royal Caribbean is headquartered in Miami and sent 45 of their employees by bus to Boston in order to make hotel and other arrangements to ensure that we would arrive home safely. We were extremely fortunate to obtain boarding passes for the only flight leaving Logan Airport the next day for Tampa. I can assure you that security was extremely tight. Very few flights left Boston that Sunday, and we were the only flight to arrive in Tampa. It certainly was strange to walk through a nearly deserted airport. It is hard to believe that our luggage arrived at the baggage area before we did. Our limousine driver was waiting outside the baggage room, surrounded by several security officers. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be two of the first to exit the city of Boston. The couple in the stateroom next to ours were from Los Angeles, and they rented a van and were going to drive to Los Angeles. Others had family members drive as far as 500 miles to pick them up at the hotel.
All this, however, did little to dampen our spirits and tarnish all the fond and beautiful, lasting memories that have followed us home from this most enjoyable and delightful cruise, which I now have given you the opportunity to share vicariously with us through this descriptive travelogue.
GETTING ON SHIP WAS FASTEST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON AFTER 12 CRUISES.FT. LAUDERDALE AND MIAMI SHOULD TAKE LESSONS FROM TAMPA. THE SHIPS PERSONAL WERE ABSOLUTLY THE GREATEST. ATTENTIVE AND VERY PLEASANT. ALWAY SMILLING AND GREETING. OUR GRANDCHILDREN HAD A BALL. 8& 10YRS OLD.
FOOD WAS EXCELLENT, DIFFERENT MENU EVERY NITE. STAFF AND HEAD WAITER COULD NOT DO ENOUGH, SERVICE SUPER AND ABOVE AVERAGE IN MAIN DINNING ROOM. BUFFET LUNCH AND BREAKFAST WAS OK. (STANDARD SHIP TYPE)DEPARTURE AGAIN WAS FAST.VERY WELL ORGANIZED AND NO DELAYS.WE ARE PLANNING ANOTHER CRUISE WITH ROYAL CARIBBEAN FOR THE 1ST OF NEXT YEAR
My wife and I are first time cruisers and enjoyed almost every minute. We had a Junior Suite and it was emaculate.The only downside was a smallish bathroom. I understand this is the norm on all ships. Our crew was the best we could ask for. From the suite steward to the ladies cleaning the hallway, all were as nice and helpful as can be. Customer service is their #1 priority.
The food in the Windjammer Cafe was excellent. We found plenty to eat and the fussy eaters (like me) had no problem filling their bellys.The dining room was beautiful! Our wait staff was superb. From the first night to the last, they knew our names and our favorite drink was at our seat when we arrived. Never a mistake on names or drinks. Most impressive!
The pool area we found to be clean and free of obsticals. The entertainment was great. The shows we attended were first rate concidering the are not pros at this.
The only negative we came away with was the way the tendering was done. While the number system has its merits, it was handled in ahaphazzard manner. Example: Tendering was supposed to start at 9 AM, didn't until 10AM. It was 3 hours into the port time before we were even on the tender boat. We feel this area needs definate improvement. Otherwise, we had no complaints at all. We will definatly cruise on Royal Caribbean again. If all their ships are as good as the Grandure,you will have a great time too.
Ship is beautiful,Staff were great, but RCCL is cutting back.Case in point the mattress's were terrible and noisy,RCCL has long stopped escorting passengers to their rooms and now they have even stop putting the baggage in your rooms (for 80yr olds this is a chore when even the doors on the Grandeur won't stay open) and then to top it off when we went to dinner first night our table mates (1st cruise) asked when was the lobster night and was informed that on less than 7 night cruises no lobster.
I remember even on 3 night cruises we had lobster but things do change from now on If I have the choice I will choose Celebrity(same company) or Holland America and that is truly a shame because we have sailed on RCCL over 10 times.
Ship was a nice size – not too large and not too small.
Staff were good, especially the bar staff.
Waiters good fun.
Food was adequate only, very American with limited number of courses – eg pudding or cheese.
Coffee was terrible although standard for US cruse ships.
Cruise routing was interesting although the weather was not in our favour.
Entertainment – absolutely Ghastly – only time I have ever seen the audience actually walk out. The cruise director could not care less that it was so poor.
But, absolutely great fellow cruisers at the dinner table.
Getting off the ship fair only – why can Royal Caribbean not get themselves organised here – all it needs is the spending of a bit of money at the problem is solved.
We just completed our second Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean. The shiplife was wonderful, but the transportation from ship to shore excursion or car rental sites was terrible for senior citizens with mobility limitations. The walks are excessive, and the cruise line puts little effort into assisting with transportation. If you have mobility issues, beware of trying to make shore excursions!
On June4, 2006 seven friends and I sailed to Bermuda out of Locust Pt in Baltimore, Maryland. The terminal was nice and the checkin was very good. No long waits. The food on the ship was not good. All of the meat we tried had a different taste, not that it was bad but tasted unusual. At lunch and breakfast if you did not eat in the dining room it was hard to hold your plate and get your food. They had no trays. It was hard to find a seat so you walked around with your food hunting for a table. Needless to say your food got cold. At breakfast if you ate in dining room they were very stingy with the milk and pastries.
The room was small. The shower was vey, very small.
The friendlyness of the staff was outstanding. All were very friendly and willing to hold a conversation with you.
The entertainment was not very good. The singers who could probably sing sounded as if they were shouting instead of singing. The magician was not very good. They had a comedian who was very funny andthe dancers were pretty good.
Lets just say I will not travel on Royal Caribbean again. Anyone taking this cruise I wish you a lot of luck.
The use of white marble, glass and marble in the Centrum area gave it an elegant and timeless look, and the abundance of glass windows gave the ship an open and sunny feel.
We boarded in Tampa and only had to stand in line for about 15 minutes. Check in was smooth, as we had done the online pre-boarding check-in. This was our second cruise out of Tampa and both times it was pretty quick and painless.
Cabin We had a junior suite, cabin 7154, in the stern. The cabin was perfect for three adults. We had plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a small bath tub. I am guessing the bathroom was about the same size as in the other balcony cabins, but with a tub instead of just a shower. There was very little counter space around the sink, but plenty of shelves tucked away behind mirrors on each side of the sink. There was a small fridge, a surprisingly small TV, and a safe in the room. The best feature was the large balcony, which was larger than the balconies in the junior suite cabinson the sides of the ship. It had two chairs, a small table and two lounge chairs with room to spare. While there are glass-frosted dividers separating the balconies, you can clearly hear the conversations next to and above you. Thankfully the people on both sides of us rarely used their balcony. Our room steward Carlos did a great job keeping our cabin clean and neat; our bathroom was always spotless. He was happy to oblige with any special requests.
Dining The Great Gatsby two-level dining room is very attractive, with a variety of table sizes. Our waiter Vladimir was great, with a friendly and professional manner. Our assistant waiter was a hard worker and very efficient. The headwaiter for our area, Geraldine from the Philippines, was exceptional! She went out of her way to make sure all the tables in her area were well taken care of. She knew our names after the first night and never failed to stop by our table, address us by name and make sure all was well. She even had a special dessert made for one of the persons in our party.
The food was very good and we enjoyed all our meals. This is coming from three New Yorkers who eat out a lot at some of the city's top restaurants. Our only complaint was the cheesecake. We have had many types of cheesecake -- New York, Italian, no-bake, etc. but the cheesecake on the ship was truly awful! It was like a tasteless paste, made with a lot more flour then cream cheese. The other desserts were OK; the warm chocolate cake with a gooey center was a favorite. The chocolate creme brulee served at lunch was also delish!
We had breakfast in both the main dinning room and the Windjammer Cafe, the ship's buffet area, nicely positioned in the front of the ship. Both were good with all of the standard breakfast offerings. At the buffet they have an omelet station where you can get fresh omelets or fried eggs. The only negative was the French Toast at the buffet, which was always rock-hard. In the dining room I had the eggs Benedict, which was good and did not taste like it had been sitting in a steam table all morning, as on other ships. We ate lunch or afternoon snacks in the Windjammer Cafe. I am usually not too impressed with cruise ships' buffet lunches, but I found the lunches enjoyable, with a good variety of food from curries to fried chicken (not the leftovers from last night's dinner like on some ships).
We did have lunch once in the dinning room. The food was good but the service was not! Our waiter from Jamaica was grumpy and was not having a good day. The lunch menu in the dinning room does not change, but there is a daily special. The curry chicken special was delicious! Service in the dining room for breakfast and lunch is not at the same level as for dinner. It is open seating, which means you are rushed in and seated with others, and you are rushed thru your meal rather briskly. It is apparent the waiters are not working for tips like at dinner, as the smiles and caring attitude seem to disappear. I have encountered this on every cruise I have been on, which is why I tend to avoid the dinning room for breakfast and lunch.
Activities My favorite area of the ship during the day was the Solarium. This is for guests age 16 or older, so there were no small children running around screaming like by the main outdoor pool. It is covered by a glass roof, so on a rainy day you can still enjoy the pool (saltwater) and two Jacuzzis in this area. Classical music played in the background, which lent a nice relaxing touch. The lounge chairs in this area are covered by thick cushions. The Solarium area has a bar; a grill for pizza, hot dogs and burgers (never too busy); and the entrance to the spa.
The spa area was very nice, and the gym area was on the second floor of the spa area. The equipment in the gym was all new. The only drawback was that it was a bit warm and stuffy and there was no music. I have never been to a gym where there was not high energy music playing for that extra boost. The men's changing area was spacious and clean, with lockers, a nice sauna and steam room; neither was very busy when I visited. There were also a few showers. I was surprised that there was only one pedestal-style sink in the whole area, so after working out or getting a treatment in the spa there really was not an area with counter space and mirrors to fix yourself up afterwards. I am guessing that in the ladies area there must be a better set up.
The casino was OK -- a typical cruise ship casino. They did not heavily promote the casino; it was there if you wanted to visit. You have to walk through the casino to get from the Palladium theater to the Centrum or upper dining room level. How clever of them!
Entertainment We went to the two productions shows in the attractive two-level Palladium theater. Because I am a frequent Broadway theater-goer, I try not to compare cruise ship productions to the standard. However, I must say that the two lead singers in these productions were outstanding. The shows themselves -- one a Broadway revue, and the other a Jazz show -- were a bit flat. The team of dancers seemed to do a lot of the same simple dance steps over and over. The stage often seemed a bit empty due to the small number of dancers, fewer then I have seen on other ships.
The cruise director (forgot her name) was a nice change from the usual overbearing cruise directors, who repeat the same corny cruise jokes over and over. She seemed a bit more current and fresh than most I have encountered.
Overall, we were very pleased by this cruise, and I would certainly cruise on this ship again and recommend it to others. To me it is a perfect size; there were never long lines for anything, even though it was a sold-out sailing. I look forward to cruising with RCI again.