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New & Improved Grandeur ~ Venice to Palma ~ July 13 ~ My Diary

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Greetings Cruise Critic Family!

Max's Dad and I (John and Jane) have recently returned from a Mediterranean cruise aboard the newly refurbished Grandeur of the Seas. What a trip we had!

A little about us: We have been cruising with Royal Caribbean for 27 years (started on our honeymoon) and are Diamond Plus C&A members with 355 cruise points now. We know a lot of you personally and many more of you virtually as I am on these boards quite a bit! I try to do one of these diary type reviews after each cruise. Hopefully they are helpful to some of you.....and for me......well.....it's just fun to relive the trip!

Here we are:

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Many of you have been asking about the Grandeur after the refit. I'll just say very quickly right now that we were blown away by the improvements. This is a ship that in 2004.....we vowed and declared that we would never sail on again. We had a bad experience during hurricane season with sewage back ups, smells, all kinds of problems of that nature.....plus they ran out of many things....it just went on and on. We nicknamed her "Sewer of the Seas" and never gave her another thought. Well.....let me tell you......she has made a complete turn around and I would not hesitate to sail on her again. I'll get into more specifics as I go along.

Our adventure began on Tuesday, July 10th as we left home around 1:30 PM......late as usual.....About halfway to the airport John asks, "Did you get my backpack?" "Uhhhhhh.....no......you mean you didn't get it?" The last time I saw the backpack.....it was on the living room sofa and I guess it was still there! So we turn around and go back home to get it. That made us late to the airport.....and of course.....not a parking spot to be found. We barely got to the ticket counter in time to get the luggage in. So much for my Bloody Mary in the Sky Club! We went straight to the gate for our flight to JFK.

Fortunately we had a bit of time in the Sky Club in NY. Our flight didn't leave until 8:40, so we relaxed there for a while and I finally got my "I'm on vacation cocktail!"

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Our flight over to Venice was on a fairly new 767. We booked Business Class and it was sooooooo nice. That was the best flight to Europe I've ever had! The seats totally reclined into a bed and I had a great night's sleep. I watched a movie. The food was good. I had a full sized pillow and a comforter. Before I knew it we were having breakfast and landing in Venice! Here are a couple of pictures from the plane:

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I knew another couple from our roll call was on our flight and we were in touch right before we boarded so I knew what their seat assignment was. So before we took off, I found them to say hello. Hey Ron and Barb!!

We had a great tail wind so we arrived in Venice an hour early. We were meeting our long time friends, Steve and Veronica, who were flying into Venice at around the same time from Mexico City, where they live. It wasn't long before they arrived and we were ready to find the water taxi to get to our hotel.

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Jane, I just love your reviews!!! I'm waiting for more!!! Liked that you flew Business!!! It is the best way!!!

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Wednesday ~ July 11, 2012 ~ Venice

After getting off the plane in Venice, we go through immigration, which took all of 5 seconds! We were thankful that our luggage showed up because of our late arrival to the airport. However my big suitcase was damaged. One of the wheels was now oval shaped and would not roll. This took a bit of doing to move it, but we finally figured out a way to do it.

We found the counter to pay for the water taxi.......it's just to the left as you come out of the luggage area. 110 euros.....thank you very much. After you pay.....you continue walking to the left for about 7-10 minutes until you get to the water taxis. We finally found them!

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They got all our luggage on and then we were off on our way.

Our driver:

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It was a fun ride:

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Water taxi ride to the hotel........110 Euros:

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The experience........priceless!!!

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We were dropped off very close to our hotel. We only had to walk around the corner and it was right there. We stayed in the Hotel Bisanzio (a Best Western Hotel) which was just a short walk from St. Mark's Square. The hotel was very nice.....quaint. Our room was very small, but nice.....beautiful furniture, exposed beams, comfy bed. We never could get the air conditioning to cool as much as we like it, but that's how it is all over Europe. Each hotel we stayed in was the same way.

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Here is our room. Sorry it looks like our luggage exploded!

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And here is the cool key to our room:

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Our room was ready as soon as we got there. We were meeting some cruise buddies here who were just getting back from a B2B on the Splendour and they were on their way home. They had just stepped out when we got there, so we got up with them later for dinner.

It was so HOT here! I peeled off my travel clothes, took a shower, and just crashed for a while.

We all met in the lobby around 7:00 and we strolled through the alleyways to a favorite restaurant of our cruise buddies, Guy and Lisa. They have been coming here for the past 20 years or so, so they knew the area well.

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This was the restaurant. Everyone knew Guy and Lisa and they treated us so well. They brought us all kinds of things to try.

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We had a wonderful meal finished off with the best tiramisu ever AND I had my first ever lemoncello!

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The waiters there were so much fun:

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After dinner, we walked to St. Mark's Square......so our first visit there was in the dark! Lots of people there......very lively. We were just in awe of the place, even in the dark!

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We even saw a bride and groom just hanging out there:

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Veronica needed to use the restroom, so they left us to find a place. While they were there, they got a couple of beers. The bill was 30 euros.....cover charge! Yikes!!

The rest of us walked back to the hotel and visited in the lobby for a while. Steve and Veronica joined us soon after they had their expensive beers. Then we all turned in for the night. We were really pooped, so we had a great night's sleep.....no problem!

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Thursday ~ July 12th ~ Venice

We were up early. Breakfast was included at the hotel and it was quite good. Afterwards we set out to explore. There were so many people here......it was insane. We walked straight out the front door of the hotel down this little alley and came right out into the main drag.

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The Hotel Danielli (Recently featured in the movie, The Tourist) was just around the corner, so that was our first stop.

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This is the lobby:

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Would love to stay here, but it's just a little out of our price range! It was beautiful, though.

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Next.....it was on to St. Mark's Square.

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The line to get in the Basilica was all the way back to the waterfront. The line for the Campenile was short......so we got in it. It didn't take too long. It was 8 euros to go to the top. It was very, very nice up there....and cool! There were beautiful views all around.

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More views from the Bell Tower:

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We stayed up here for a while. It was just so beautiful......AND it was much cooler here! I definitely recommend going up into the Bell Tower.

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After coming down from the Bell Tower, we just took in all the sight of the Square. It is just beautiful.

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There were just so many people all around and it was soooooo HOT.

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Soon we wandered down one of the alleys off the square and found a place for some refreshment! This would happen quite often during the trip!!

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This was nice, but we needed to move on. So many shops and things to see. As our friend, Lisa, says.....it's sensory overload!!

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Next up.......a Gondola ride. We asked around......some wanted 100 euros for half an hour, but we found one for 80 euros.

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Here we go!

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The Bridge of Sighs was on our route.

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That was really great. I'm glad we did that.

Time for lunch. We just stopped at the first place we came to after the Gondola ride. We were too tired to go any further. Turns out this place added a hefty cover charge because our bill was ridiculous and we didn't have much. Watch out for that kind of stuff. It was so hot there that Veronica and I had to get up and move over to the other side of the street to get in the shade. We were accused of being "working girls"!!

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After lunch we went back to the hotel. Took a nap......did some reading and relaxing, then got ready for the evening.

Edited by max'smom

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Awesome review so far Jane......I always enjoy them. :)

 

Thanks. I'm having some computer issues right now, so I'll see how far iIcan go tonight. Getting a new laptop tomorrow, so maybe it will be better.

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This evening we just wandered around the corner from the hotel down an alleyway and found an inexpensive spot to have dinner since we spent so much money on our stupid lunch! The spot we found was not very picturesque, but the food was good and the price was right!

Here we are leaving the hotel:

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Strolling down the alley looking for a place to eat:

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Our cruise buddies, Guy and Lisa:

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All the girls:

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Surely there's a place around here somewhere!

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Our appetizer:

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We enjoyed our dinner and then walked back to the hotel where we had a nightcap in the lobby and visited for just a little bit.

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The little lobby bar:

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The hotel lobby:

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To a fun time in Venice......now on to the cruise!

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Friday ~ July 13th ~ Venice, Embarkation, & Sailaway

Had breakfast at the hotel, then went out to a convenience store to get a few bottles of water. We got packed up and were down in the lobby around 10:30. We were picked up by the water taxi at 10:45 and were whisked away to the ship! 130 euros!! Oh well......what a way to go!

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This creature was following us:

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We pull right up to the dock in front of the ship and our luggage was taken right away.....we never had to touch it. They weren't busy at all so this was a good time to come. It was about 11 0'clock and it took about 15 minutes to get there.

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We breezed through the check in. It was super easy and quick!

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I was held up a bit in security because of a pair of scissors in my luggage that I had never seen before in my life. I had no clue where they came from, but they were small and they let them go on through.

Before long we were on board and enjoying the first drink of the cruise.

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As soon as we walked on board......it was very obvious that everything was new. New furniture, new carpet, a newly designed Centrum. It was beautiful. We sat near the Centrum area for a while until our cabins were ready. That was at 1 o'clock. In the meantime, I ordered our Specialty Dining Package (3 Specialty Restaurants for $50pp) Then I went to the restaurants and made our resevations. I found someone at Giovanni's Table and he made the reservations for all three restaurants. We wanted the first night at Chops.......we did not bring formal wear so the other two nights were the formal nights. After that was done I went with Steve so that he could order a wine package. When all that was done.....it was time to go to the cabins.

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Hi Jane!

As always, wonderful review! Thanks for taking the time! You and John look like you're having a really great time! Cant wait for the rest! ~Stacey

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Jane

 

Well done on your Excellent review so far.

Glad you enjoyed the Grandeur! We can hardly wait to get onboard on Sunday:D

 

Keep up the good work

All the best

Gary

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Thanks Everyone!

Well......it's 1 o'clock......the magic hour for cabin inspection!

We have Cabin number 8554.....a Junior Suite. Really nice! Considering the last time we were on the Grandeur we were in an inside cabin! Everything looked brand new. Furniture, carpet, drapes, and the best part......all new bathrooms! And the toilets worked perfectly!!!

I'll try to be right back to post the pictures........my computer needs an attitude adjustment!

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OK.....here we go......pictures of Junior Suite 8554:

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We went ahead and unpacked our carry ons at this point.

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Time for lunch. Not a fan of the Windjammer, so we go to Park Cafe for lunch. Park Cafe was added during the refurb. It is at the back of the Solarium and a very nice addition indeed. We go there mainly for the roast beef sandwich that John likes and I like the made to order salads. No one has found this little jewel yet so we have the place to ourselves.

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A little tip for the Park Cafe.........don't sit on the side where you order your food. Sit at the tables on the other side. It's much cooler over there. Also.....the other sandwiches are very good here. I especially liked the whole wheat veggie pita. They grill these sandwiches like paninis and they are so tasty!

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Hi Jane:

 

I have loved your other reviews and I am looking forward to you continuing this one. Isn't Venice great??? I can't wait to see more of Grandeur. We were on her way back in 2001 when she was pretty new. Its great to hear that they have brought her back to that original splendor.

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During the refurb, did they add a lot of balcony cabins? or do you have to book a suite to get one? thank you ~ Grandeur will be out of Baltimore next year, so close to home for me... thanks!

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During the refurb, did they add a lot of balcony cabins? or do you have to book a suite to get one? thank you ~ Grandeur will be out of Baltimore next year, so close to home for me... thanks!

 

I am loving the review, too. We have booked the cruise from San Juan to Baltimore. We live near there, too. So, we wanted to "go get the Grandeur" and bring her to Baltimore. :)

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I am loving the review, too. We have booked the cruise from San Juan to Baltimore. We live near there, too. So, we wanted to "go get the Grandeur" and bring her to Baltimore. :)

 

Sweet! what a great idea... what sailing date is that?

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Great review! We're on the Grandeur for the first time next summer, and can't wait to see the new additions.

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Looking forward to the rest of your review! we have her booked in September for our anniversary. I especially can't wait to see pics of the the refurbished stuff and the new additions!

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Enjoying your review-thanks!

 

Do you have any pics of the bathroom in your JS? We are booked in a corner aft JS on deck 7 for March 2014 and sure hope our room looks like yours!

 

We have cruised on the Grandeur a couple of years ago and even though the ship is old we loved her and can't wait for her to come back to Baltimore!

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Hi Jane - GREAT Reveiw! Keep writing!!!! We sail on the Grandeur from Venice 26 October. Did you try out the new Chef's Table?

Bobby

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Great review and lovely pictures and bringing back some happy memories - we stayed in the Bisanzio a couple of years ago and we sailed on the Grandeur just a few weeks ago :D. I'm so pleased to hear you liked the Grandeur - we sailed on her last year (pre-refit) and were also thrilled with the refurbishment.

 

I was also interested to see your cabin pictures as we had a corner aft JS (7150) with a huge balcony but the cabin seemed smaller than previous JS's we'd stayed in. Your cabin was definitely bigger than the one we had.

 

Looking forward to the rest of the review.

Edited by Bobal

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Thanks Jane...great review and pictures. We are boarding Grandeur October. Looking forward to your comments about the the three specialty restaurants because we have booked the $50 package also.

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Enjoying your review-thanks!

 

Do you have any pics of the bathroom in your JS? We are booked in a corner aft JS on deck 7 for March 2014 and sure hope our room looks like yours!

 

We have cruised on the Grandeur a couple of years ago and even though the ship is old we loved her and can't wait for her to come back to Baltimore!

 

LOL we booked a JS directly across the ship from theirs. I hope that means it is the same. I would love to see pics of the bathroom too.

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During the refurb, did they add a lot of balcony cabins? or do you have to book a suite to get one? thank you ~ Grandeur will be out of Baltimore next year, so close to home for me... thanks!

 

No, they didn't add any balcony cabins, but they added a bunch of really nice Ocean view cabins around the Centrum area. I did not see any of them but i heard they were quite nice. There are all kinds of balcony cabins. You do not have to get a suite to have a balcony.

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I am loving the review, too. We have booked the cruise from San Juan to Baltimore. We live near there, too. So, we wanted to "go get the Grandeur" and bring her to Baltimore. :)

 

That is so cool! Bring her home! When is that? We like sailing out of Baltimore. It is so convenient.

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Enjoying your review-thanks!

 

Do you have any pics of the bathroom in your JS? We are booked in a corner aft JS on deck 7 for March 2014 and sure hope our room looks like yours!

 

We have cruised on the Grandeur a couple of years ago and even though the ship is old we loved her and can't wait for her to come back to Baltimore!

 

I do have some bathroom pictures, but they are pretty blah looking. Everything is all white so it doesn't look like much in the picture. but the bathrooms are nice. For the life of me, though......we could not keep the water in the bathtub while taking a shower. We could never figure out what we were doing wrong. Thank goodness there was a drain in the bathroom floor!

I think they had all new plumbing in the bathrooms. It was totally different than when we were on her before.

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Hi Jane - GREAT Reveiw! Keep writing!!!! We sail on the Grandeur from Venice 26 October. Did you try out the new Chef's Table?

Bobby

 

We did not try the Chef's Table although I wanted to and it is a good deal when combined with the Specialty Restaurant Package. John eats like a 10 year old (you know.....chicken nuggets and hamburgers) and doesn't drink wine, so it would be a waste of money on him. I was really scared that he wouldn't like Izumi but he did all right in there. I'll elaborate on that later. I understand that the Chef's Table is wonderful. We had a couple of cruise buddies that did it on our last cruise. So go for it!

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