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spookwife

GR to New England and Canada, a review with Pics

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Just got back from a lovely 8 day cruise out of Baltimore.

 

Stats:

 

Ship: Grandeur of the Seas

Date 19-27 September 2013

Itinerary: Portland, Bar Harbor, St John, Halifax

Cabin: 8012, Grand Suite

 

Weather: with the exception of Bar Harbor( tender port and canceled) the weather was mostly decent.. sure it was a little brisk/windy, but temps were not all that bad. not too many sun worshippers though....

 

Day One, 19 September. Happy anniversary to us! today is our 15th and what better way to kick it off than by cruising! We live about 20 minutes from port so began our vacation with a side trip to our favorite Mom and Pop joint for breakfast. I had scrapple. He had an omelet.

 

got to port at 0915 and they only let us in as far as the second guard shack. we were the fifth car in line. we were told they would not start letting us in to drop off baggage til about 10 30, so we all got out of our cars and started chatting. They lied. at 10 am, we were off around the corner. Baltimore is an easy as all get out port to get to and disgustingly efficient once there.

 

they have expanded a bit, with new check in lines for D+/Pinnacle as well as the usual Suite line. dropped off luggage at 10, was on board before 1045 and that included a 15 minute wait before they opened the doors at 1030. yes the Gangway of Doom still exists. if you have a hard time on semi steep inclines, ask for the handicapped boarding. your calves will thank you.

 

That being said, if you are the type that wants to go immediately to lunch, WAIT until later to arrive. Windjammer did not begin serving until 1130 and Park Cafe was even later at 130. Sure a pool bar was open but they don't serve appetizers. The cabins were not released until just before 130. it was a bit of limbo for the first 2 hours or so with nothing to do but wander or camp out in a corner somewhere. The Centrum had a piano player to provide distraction.

 

there were a grand whopping 7 kids on board this cruise, but at our Mid 40s we were among the youngest of the adults. a LOT of rollators, ECVs and wheelchairs all week long, which made for crowded elevators and hallways at times.

 

Muster went smoothly, even if a few people were..lost..at first.

 

Initial impressions: we only have EN to compare to, GR's big sister. the lack of those extra cabins were immediately noticed though as the public spaces were a lot less crowded despite the penchant for camping out in one spot all day long( more on that later) GR is is just as good a shape as EN and I am pleased to report exactly ZERO sewer smells anywhere on board. (I'll get to the cigarette smoke later)

 

 

The Cabin: okay we admit it, we are snobs. we have only sailed in GS before and have no intentions of going smaller willingly. 8012 is right by the forward elevator, and across from an inside cabin which I preferred over the housekeeping closet/crew space/elevator/whatever it was across from 8032 on EN. the cabin , we decided, was about a sq foot or two smaller than EN but after about 5 minutes we didn't miss it. there were no loungers on the balcony, although the large table with 2 comfy chairs was, as well as a single less comfy chair. we did not ask for loungers as we felt they would not fit comfortably and quite frankly did not expect to have the inclination to lie out there and nap. Hey, It's Autumn in New England! growing up I'd be in snowsuits by now.

 

Minor issues that were noticed but not enough to pitch a fit about:

 

Drawers either stuck, or rolled open every time the ship rocked

 

Bathroom door seemed to not want to close at all without shoving against it.

 

main door the same. in fact we came back to it after breakfast one morning to find that our door had not closed all the way at all( and Dede the steward had not yet been by). After that we got anal about making sure doors shut properly.

 

Here are some thumbnails to start, I will work on getting full size ones DL to Photbucket for your viewing pleasure.

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you said Bar Harbour (tender port) was cancelled. what did you do instead? we are doing Canada/NE cruise on Brilliance on 20 oct. so I am interested to know alternative just in case it happens again :eek:, did ye just remain on ship? thanks

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you said Bar Harbour (tender port) was cancelled. what did you do instead? we are doing Canada/NE cruise on Brilliance on 20 oct. so I am interested to know alternative just in case it happens again :eek:, did ye just remain on ship? thanks

 

Captain Been went out to sea and away from the worst of the wind. there was no other port options that I know of. Two other ships who were due in to Bar Harbor that day also canceled so that tells you how windy it was. a hastily revised Cruise Compass was out I wanna say within an hour of the decision being made to leave with extra activities being scheduled on the fly.

 

didn't stop the dedicated( we called 'em crazies) deck walkers from doing their mile or two on deck ten.

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P9190264_zps7438f783.jpg

 

Our first glimpse as we waited to drop off our luggage. there were still stragglers coming down the Ramp of Doom at 0915!

 

 

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our balcony table through the curtains

 

 

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don't mind Johnny_b lounging.....

 

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actually, he wasn't lounging! he was dutifully watching the Muster info! yeah. that's it.

 

I had arranged for a bottle of Dom to be in our room upon arrival. It was there, but the ice had already mostly melted by the time we got to the room at 2 ish( we had beef on weck at park cafe first as no cruise is officially started without one! It was still plenty cold when we opened it after muster before heading up the Lounge for pre dinner drinkies.

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Dinner, Day one: IZUMI!!!!

 

now let me preface by stating that the INTENT was to eat here as our anniversary dinner and hit the MDR( my time dinging) the rest of the week,

 

yeah, not so much. they were pretty aggressive about pushing the specialty dining package in both the Concierge Lounge and at Chops during breakfast hours( a nice perk that EN did not offer and we took FULL advantage of the entire week) we talked it over and decided that the price was decent and I had been wanting to try Giovanni's anyway, and was willing to give Chops a second chance( was dreadfully unimpressed by the service at Chops on EN)

 

we were told it would be no big deal to add the dining package, be credited for the Izumi payment already made . to make a long story short, Giavanni's charged us anyway, Guest services were pretty dismissive and basically said "We won't do squat, you have to fix this at Chops". whether or not GS could have fixed is is not the issue. if their system was not capable, fine, no problem, but please tell us that instead of making it appear as if you were not interested in helping. yes our end of cruise survey made our displeasure known.

 

Back to Izumi. we lived in Japan for a few years so learned what real sushi is supposed to be. umm, I think this may have been the finest Japanese food I have eaten outside of Tokyo. No lie.

 

 

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I had the hot rock, Johnny_b had the deluxe sushi combo.. except the unagi. I stole that. Hey, I like eel.

 

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I'd like to say I have a bunch of other food porn pics, but I must confess that alas, I do not. kept forgetting the camera.. or when we remembered it, we forgot to stop eating long enough to take pics. suffice it to say that we ate VERY well all week, despite actually only eating in the MDR exactly once, and then only because we didn't want to break up the conversation with another couple in the CL.

 

Speaking of the Concierge Lounge:

 

This is quite frankly a major reason why we only books GSs. not just because of the free flowing wine( although Ayu, our bartender's idea of a 'half glass of cabernet' is my idea of a half bottle! :D) although it is a consideration.

 

On GR it is tucked away on deck 11 and carved out of the VCL. Izumi is also up there where the DJ booth used to be( and encompasses what is the DL and CL on EN in the same spot) Francis Callmag was aboard, his first day back from vacation. I was told George Gutierrez was in the DL. while not as ebullient and outgoing as Reyno on EN, Francis is extremely polite, efficient and very concerned about making sure we were all taken care of. many nights he gave up his own chair as the lounge was SRO.

 

The nightly appetizer selection was, to me, a step up from what EN served. we are talking caviar/roe, scallops, shrimp on toast and savories that ranged from curry to quiche. Ayu, the afore mentioned bartender had an assistant/ helper but to be honest I never learned his name( he never introduced himself at all, and was a lot less visible except to clear away empties. Ayu is a bubbly, happy, entirely too generous with her pours bartender. seriously. Johnny_b swears his JD was shown a picture of a coke can once the entire week to cover the 2 or 3 he was given( even if he never quite asked for seconds) each night. I think between myself and the other gentleman who drank Cab we killed a bottle a night. minimum. I never had more than 2 glasses a night except once.

 

It was universally crowded every evening but the company was great.

 

P9190296_zps9925696e.jpg

 

Ft MHenry's Flag at Half staff for the Navy Yard shooting

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oh, I forgot to finish talking about Izumi. My Bad.

 

my hot rock came with sticky rice, miso soup and 3 dipping sauces. I wanted to bathe in the lemon ginger. the other two were a typically uber sweet extra thick Korean BBQ and a Thai chili that was equal parts sweet and hot. I had sake properly served chilled and he had biru although he would have preferred Asahi over Kirin( or was it Sapporo?)

 

We each ordered desert, caramelized banana pancake w/ vanilla ice cream for me, and he got the trio. they also came out with a large green tea mousse with a candle and( badly out of tune) sang 'happy anniversary' to us.

 

Day 2, at sea:

 

when I woke up at 0600, Johnny_b was already up at the gym. yeah he's dedicated. apparently the first couple of days nobody bothered to turn the lights on so a couple of enterprising passengers hunted around and flipped random switches....

 

Random observations:

 

hold the safe door shut when you are trying to lock it. Trust me.

 

The toilet flushes. BUT, you can't really do it twice in a row, and you need to wait about 2 minutes. I rarely had to push more than once to get it to flush, Johnny_b declared it was more like 2-3 pushes each time for him. the ones in the cabin pushed a LOT easier than random ones in public spaces.

 

The cabin had an iPod dock, so, Yay! one less cord to leave out to charge stuff with.

 

The Chocolate on the pillow amenity has officially died a tragic death. I pouted the first night, never missed it thereafter. hey, when you get an entire friggin wheel of camembert cheese on the first formal night along with grapes, crackers and strawberries, who needs chocolate?!

 

 

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This is what greeted us after dinner:

 

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this is what greeted me BEFORE dinner:

 

 

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took a few formal portraits and bought a couple although the ones on the second formal night we both decided we liked better. If you are really lucky( and beg ) I may scan them in to share.

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Thank you for posting. Love the GS pix. We were in 8010 just before the refit last year. Looks like they swapped out the couches. Odd that that didn't do the same with the chair.

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Thank you for the great photos. We will be in that cabin in 2015 and it was great to see exactly what it looks like! Do you by any chance have a photo of the balcony from outside showing more of the size of it?

 

Loved the pic of your DH in his kilt. My Dh finally has his and will also be wearing it on formal nights.

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Great review so far! Looking forward to seeing those formal pics!!

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Thank you for the great photos. We will be in that cabin in 2015 and it was great to see exactly what it looks like! Do you by any chance have a photo of the balcony from outside showing more of the size of it?

 

Loved the pic of your DH in his kilt. My Dh finally has his and will also be wearing it on formal nights.

 

You know I really don't, although:

 

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It looked to be a tad bit narrower than the on EN, hence the lack of lounge chairs, or so I assume. we found it plenty big enough though to sit out there and read or drink bubbly.

 

 

Portland:

 

there's a reason NE has so dang many lighthouses. nothing gets you going like having the ship's foghorn start blasting at 2 am until about 7 or so. it woke me up, so of course I had to step outside on the balcony. I took a picture, but all it is is a grey blob, so I won't waste bandwidth here. it had pretty much all burned away by the time we arrived though, so all turned out well in the end.

 

Like I said before they really pushed Chops for breakfast for suite guests. we ended up there every morning. the menu is minuscule, only 5 items but they will make omelets and pancakes to order. I also got eggs benedict twice although the whites were not quite cooked enough for me. I HIGHLY recommend the stuffed french toast ( if you plan on skipping lunch) and the chiorizo fritatta, although try not to take a bit that is all chiorizo, unless you like spicy. it also has a pretty extensive fruit and pastry bar( with blackberries the size of my palm all week) and a small selection of cereal and meusli.

 

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random sunrise.

 

all we did in port was wander. had lunch at Gritty's, the oldest brew pub in town. the Ales were tasty, and Johnny_b got his chowder fix in. dinner was the CL appetizers as we really weren't that hungry. Cocktail hour was 430-8 nightly and breakfast was 7-10.

 

Entertainment:

 

not a big thing for us generally speaking although Paul O'shea was the Piano Bar guy and he was MUCH better than the dude on EN back at christmas. Evergreen and Rosario Syrings form EN were still around, and neither of them thrilled us at all. Darryl was AD and still hysterical and that hair.. yowza :eek: Ricky was the CD and he really did nothing for us.

 

 

Bar Harbor:

 

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Looks deceiving, huh?! one tender got away, with the ship's sponsored shore excursions. almost immediately, they suspended the rest. after about 20 minutes, Cpt Been announced that he was waiting to see whether conditions were expected to improve before making a final decision. 10 minutes after that he called off the port call, and said as soon as the tender returned, he was high tailing it outta there. 2 other ships scheduled for BH also canceled. the seas did not look rough, but the wind was brutal and very gusty, which made it unsafe for the tenders.. which kind of makes me go "hmmmm" as said tenders were our life boats.....

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Tendering in Bar Harbor

 

they were VERY explicit about NO wheelchairs, walkers or ECVs allowed on the tenders in the hours leading up to arrival. it wasn't until later that I found out out the reason why is because in order to get on, you must navigate stairs..narrow ones. this might be port specific, or it might be ship specific. the only other tenders I have done were provided by the island and we boarded on a higher deck that had the portable ramps.

 

St John:

 

favorite port. I have a bazillion pictures of the Cherry Brook Zoo, which is where we spent our morning. while it is no San Diego or National Zoo, it was very nice for a totally dependent on the kindness of strangers( no outside or gov't funding at all) and they had a truly fantastic 'Forest of Extinction' with some life size replicas of the Dodo and other long lost species.

 

there is a taxi stand inside the terminal. PSA: get the fare up front. we were quoted $17 upon arrival at the zoo, when it should have been $10. in the end . we were refunded the discrepancy. had we not mentioned to the lady at the zoo what we paid, we would never have known. afterward , we wandered around town a bit

 

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part of a 3d piece of artwork inside the closest shopping center to the ship.

 

I should have taken a picture of Beaver Tails, the food truck, for reference, but suffice it to say: STOP THERE. Think pizza fritte/fried dough slathered in a variety of toppings or just plain rolled in sugar. he also had poutine, which apparently is better than plain fries smothered in gravy cuz it has cheese curds.

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I should have taken a picture of Beaver Tails, the food truck, for reference, but suffice it to say: STOP THERE. Think pizza fritte/fried dough slathered in a variety of toppings or just plain rolled in sugar. he also had poutine, which apparently is better than plain fries smothered in gravy cuz it has cheese curds.

 

I LOVE Beaver Tails! I used to eat them more often then I should when I worked in Whistler, BC.

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Enjoying the review - Dede was our steward in August. We did a NE and Canada cruise in August 2011 - hoping to do one next year.

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Thank you for the information! We are leaving on this cruise next Thursday and I have been hoping someone would post. We are in the Royal Family Suite so I'm happy to hear about the concierge lounge. A little worried about only 7 kids on the ship (we have a 3 1/2 year old who is hoping to meet friends!) but I'm sure it will be ok.

 

Which nights are formal nights? And much thanks for the Izumi information -- we love hot stone cooking and I didn't realize that was an option there.

 

Oh and how were the seas when you left Baltimore heading north? Last time we were on the Grandeur we went south to Bermuda and as soon as we hit the open ocean the rocking was horrible. Just wondering how much Dramamine we should pack or if it was fairly calm?

Edited by gigglets

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Which nights are formal nights?

The Second and 7th nights were Formal nights - Both are sea days.

 

Oh and how were the seas when you left Baltimore heading north? Last time we were on the Grandeur we went south to Bermuda and as soon as we hit the open ocean the rocking was horrible. Just wondering how much Dramamine we should pack or if it was fairly calm?

Seas were nice and calm the whole time. There was not a lot of rocking and rolling at all. Of course, your experience may vary based on the weather.

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The Second and 7th nights were Formal nights - Both are sea days.

 

 

Seas were nice and calm the whole time. There was not a lot of rocking and rolling at all. Of course, your experience may vary based on the weather.

 

 

Thanks so much for the feedback -- definitely helps in my planning :) I think I will bring a roll of duct tape just incase to tape the drawers shut :)

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Halifax:

 

I'd like to say I got off the ship, had a blast wandering around and thoroughly enjoyed myself..

 

Not so much.

 

First, we pulled in after Brilliance and Norwegian Dawn so they had first dibs. second, for all intents and purposes we were pretty far from the downtown area and if you were hoping for a quick walk, you were disappointed. it took Johnny_b maybe 30 minutes at Spook speed( read fast walking pace) to reach the Museum, and the main district is another 10 minutes beyond that. If I had tagged along.. add another 20 minutes to the museum.

 

In other words, plan to cab it to maximize options.

 

Remember Ayu? she of the Half Glass of Obnoxiousness? yeah she plied with me way too many glasses of Cab and I stupidly did NOT eat dinner the night before. can we say dehydration and hangover? yes. yes we can. So, Johnny_b toured all by his lonesome. I stayed on board, drank many glasses of ice water and drained my Kindle battery.

 

He says it's a pretty port and someday i hope to see for myself.

 

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thoroughly funky sculpture along the Promenade.

 

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they put lighthouses everywhere....

 

 

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Poor Brilliance was even further away form the main action than we were!

 

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we swung wide and slipped in ahead of Dawn along the same pier.

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Centrum:

 

I wanted to see for myself the arial show, but it just plain wasn't to be. in order to get anything vaguely resembling a decent viewing spot with a seat, you need to stake your claim several HOURS early.. or maybe it was just because the average age on board with 68.

 

I need to sit so the SRO spots along decks 7 and 8 were right out.

 

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Johnny_b says it was a very well done show overall

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the Final two days were sea days, my personal favorite. we had glass for seas despite the chill, although the last sea day it was down right warm!

 

snagged a Bridge tour and despite a laughable security issue( they didn't know there was a tour scheduled for the time and when the finally sent someone they had the wrong list) we still had an enjoyable 20-30 minutes on the Bridge

 

a few of us were tempted to waggle our fingers in front of the mounted bridge cam.. you know the one in your stateroom?! heheheh

 

Johnny_B was way jealous of the carpeting, the way cooler gizmos and the full size fridge. I thought the coffee pot was far too puny to keep a bunch of sailors awake all day and night.

 

 

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we had a visitor on our balcony....

 

 

Disembarkation:

 

I tel ya I was a little freaked out when I saw that our special debarkation area was the Concierge Lounge. the one on Deck 11. with only 2 elevators. I worried unnecessarily. Francis overrode the elevator and took us down in chunks. the first group was gone maybe 3 minutes and we were in the second group. and he sent us to the handicapped exit! no Ramp of Doom!!!! The Customs guy was still asleep, I am not even sure he even looked at our passports let alone the Customs form. Luggage was surprisingly easy to find, it may have been the fact that the 'sections' were smaller'

 

They started self assist a little late.. after 730( listed at 7 am) but we were still called before 8 and were on the road in under 15 minutes.

 

I gotta say, this was a thoroughly enjoyable cruise, the ports were a great change from the beachy tropical ones esp since we are not beach bunnies at all. the older crowd was still a lot of fun and the lack of kids was a wonderful wonderful plus. I fully intend to revisit this itinerary again.

Edited by spookwife

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