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GRAND CLASSICA Review with Ship Pics Album!


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I recently returned from a short 2-night cruise on GRAND CLASSICA with a group of great friends. Our sailing date was May 15, 2018 out of the port of Palm Beach with the only stop being Freeport. GRAND CLASSICA is a ship I’ve always wanted to sail, but the opportunity never came up until now. She has an interesting back-story making her debut for a new upscale division of Costa called EuroLuxe Cruises. EuroLuxe Cruises was developed to combat the newly formed Celebrity Cruises which was developed by Chandris, also to enter the premium cruising market. Needless to say Celebrity Cruises was a success and is still going strong today. EuroLuxe ended up being a very short-lived venture, in part because the new COSTA CLASSICA was not at all well received by its target audience in North America. Despite CLASSICA being the most expensive cruise ship ever built at the time (1991), her interiors were too stark and minimalist for her intended clientele. Personally the extensive use of marble and the minimalism greatly appealed to me, but I think she was really before her time. Over the years her interiors have been softened by Costa, but she still retains a lot of marble and a certain Italian elegance about her. Her size is also quite appealing, at just under 53,000 gt and carrying only 1308 passengers based on double occupancy. Our sailing had only approximately 700 passengers onboard which made for a very uncrowded and pleasant experience. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line (BPCL) acquired the vessel in early 2018 and she began sailing for the line as their second ship in April. BPCL now has the challenge of filling a medium size cruise ship every day of the year, as their two-ship operation means one of the ships is embarking passengers daily. Rumors are that BPCL is looking to acquire a third ship, but based on our passenger compliment being only half full I’m not sure they are up for the challenge. BPCL has some powerhouse cruise industry players running the show now, including Kevin Sheehan who ran Norwegian Cruise Line for many years, and is largely credited for turning the line into a profitable and well run brand. Kevin Sheehan’s son (Kevin Jr) is also a senior executive and owner of BPCL and is heavily involved in the day to day operations of the line. It will be interesting to see how BPCL develops and grows in the upcoming years.

GRAND CLASSICA has a sister ship which was also introduced under the EuroLuxe brand, called COSTA ROMANTICA. She still sails with Costa but underwent a very extensive refit and is now known as COSTA neoROMANTICA. My husband and I sailed on her a few years ago in the Mediterranean and found her to be a beautiful ship. I was anxious to compare the largely original CLASSICA to the greatly altered ROMANTICA. Honestly it would be hard to tell they are sister ships if you didn’t know better. There is very little resemblance between the two ships today, as even the general arrangement of ROMANTICA was reworked not to mention the decor.

 

Attached are two links, the first being my photos of GRAND CLASSICA. The second link contains my photos of COSTA neoROMANTICA just in case you want to compare the two ships.

 

 

GRAND CLASSICA Photos:

COSTA neoROMANTICA Photos:

 

 

Overall I greatly enjoyed the short cruise. In part because I really liked the ship, but mostly because of the fantastic group of friends I was traveling with. I also felt for a very short and inexpensive cruise BPCL did a great job. Food, entertainment, and service were all quite good, even beating the standards of some major cruise lines. In many ways I felt the ship was frankly too nice for this particular market, but there were things with the software that left room for improvement, which I will touch upon along with the things that went really well.

 

So what went really well? A lot to be honest.

- embarkation and disembarkation - both were efficient and effortless. I was a bit concerned about the valet parking only option at the terminal ($19 per day), but it was quick and efficient. I’ve waited far longer at luxury hotels. BPCL has various kiosks set up inside the terminal such as shore excursions, speciality dining, and drink packages. You can take care of these items before you actually board the ship if you choose to, but you don’t have to. Disembarkation we equally effortless. No lines to walk off, and a very short wait to clear the CBP inspection in the terminal.

- bar service - I was impressed that BPCL still employs Wine Sommeliers. This was refreshing as even many premium lines have done away with them. Drink service was fantastic and the quality of drinks was excellent. They definitely didn’t skimp on the alcohol! You can purchase a drink package for $69 plus 18% gratuity that includes 10 drink coupons, good for any drink that is $12 or less. If your drink is a higher cost you simply pay the difference.

- overall service - Beyond the bar service, my cabin steward introduced himself the first day and seemed sincerely interested that everything be perfect. I’ve sailed on far longer cruises where the cabin steward has never made himself/herself known. The final night I had a towel animal and chocolates on the bed. Nice touch! We also enjoyed great waiters in the dining room.

- entertainment - While we missed out on the production shows due to lengthly and enjoyable dinners, we did enjoy the bands and various singers in the aft Regal Lounge. One singer in particular was very entertaining doing a great job with Tina Turner and Donna Summer impersonations. I loved the fact there was a solo steel drum player by the pool in Freeport. He was fantastic and I greatly enjoyed kicking back and listening to his talent.

- the ship itself - She is a gem, and as I mentioned earlier probably a little too nice for this short cruise market. She is very well maintained, clean, and everything worked great. I loved some of her left over Italian charm such as the chapel off the main lobby, the painting of EUGENIO C in the conference room, and the fact the voice in the elevator still announces your deck in Italian. It really added to the charm of the ship. With only 700 passengers onboard she was very spacious and uncrowded, and you waited for nothing. Having two pools is generous for a ship this size, with the aft Oasis pool being reserved for adults only.

- the cuisine - We dined in the main Yellow Eder dining room the first night, and I think everyone was very happy with the quality and presentation of the cuisine. The second night we dined in the Admiralty speciality restaurant which specializes in steak and seafood. It’s really just a section of the main dining room on the Port Side as you enter, but the menu is upgraded along with the place settings. Again I thought the cuisine was superb. I enjoyed everything I ate and I think everyone else did too. The cuisine was something that overall I felt was superior to even some of the major cruise lines I’ve sailed. The buffet to be honest was average. Not great but not horrible. An expanded selection is needed here and hopefully that will be forthcoming.

So what could be improved? Just a few tweaks and this could really be a first rate product. My biggest complaint was the constant and obsessive push for revenue, almost to the point of being desperate. It overshadowed many of the positive aspects of the cruise which is unfortunate.

- too many announcements - this goes hand and hand with the push for revenue. Starting at about 8:30am the constant and relentless push for revenue began. About every 30 minutes an announcement for shore excursions began first in English, then Spanish. Extremely annoying especially when you’re trying to have a relaxing sleep-in. After the Cruise Director gave up on shore excursions, the push for the spa began. Again every 30 minutes until about 11:30am and in two languages. It was very off-putting and tarnished what could have been an otherwise excellent experience.

- paper thin cabin doors - The sound proofing between cabins was excellent, and I could hear nothing from the cabins on either side, but the cabin door was another story. There is a vent cut into the door and the conversations in the corridor as well as the announcements actually sounded like they were in your cabin. Again not something that makes for a relaxing experience.

- no ellipticals - This is a personal thing for me, as an elliptical machine in the gym is a must. CLASSICA has a nice forward facing gym, but there are no ellipticals. There is a also a sauna in the mens changing room and a large coed steam room sort of in the middle of the spa space which is an odd placement to be honest.

- onboard water - Yes it’s potable water and you can drink it (and I did), but it’s heavily chlorinated to the point where it really tasted foul. I drink the tap water on all the ships I’ve sailed, and most of it is quite good, but something is off with the tap water on CLASSICA. Some adjustment needs to be made. Of course they are happy to sell you bottled water.

- idle sitting - It’s a short nautical distance from Palm Beach to Freeport. The ship sits idle most of the time floating around in the ocean. They could stay longer in port but I understand the need to sail out so the shops and casino can open. I just wish they would sail in circles or something instead of just sitting idol in the water.

- branding - Since the ship is newly acquired there are definitely branding opportunities. The cruise cards are blank white cards and really should have the logo on them. Likewise with the ship’s funnel. I’m sure all this will be corrected with time (and $$). Traces of the ship’s former Costa ownership could still be found around the ship. Along with branding opportunities a past passenger program with some perks for frequent guests is needed.

- Freeport - What can I say, it’s a stay on the ship port. Nassau looks quite glamorous in comparison. I haven’t been to Freeport in about 20 years and frankly nothing has changed. Besides the Lucaya Beach Resort there is very little to do. Where the ship docks is industrial with absolutely nothing around it. The adjacent dock where Carnival and other ships dock is slightly better, as there is a small shopping arcade attached to it. This shopping arcade is only open if one of the Carnival, NCL, or Royal Caribbean ships happens to be docked there.

I would happily return for another cruise on GRAND CLASSICA, but I would be better prepared with ear plugs if I wanted to sleep in! Otherwise it was overall a great experience and very well done. I highly recommend sailing on this gem of a ship if you have the opportunity. She really has a lot to offer and it’s a great opportunity to sail on an old-school world class ship with very little financial burden. As I mentioned earlier BPCL is rumored to eying a third ship, possibly for longer cruises (3 or 4 nights) and out of a different embarkation port. I would happily sail with them again on a longer cruise, but the off-putting push for revenue would have be to toned down considerably for that to happen. Please enjoy the photos which include the daily activity programs, and let me know if you have any questions.

Edited by eroller
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Thank you for your honest review. I havent sailed on her yet because i remember what growing pains the Celebration had when she came to be the Grand Celebration. I have no doubt in my mind that the owners of this cruise line will bring her up to the Grand Celebration standards. I am curious about what type of cabin you booked because I believe the cabins were lacking in decor. Their balcony cabins cant compare to the balcony cabins in the Grand Celebration. I know that the bathrooms are lovely all in marble but the suite itself looks drab. I know that will be a priority to the cruise line. Again, happy to hear that you enjoyed the ship. I was invited to the luncheon on her maiden voyage and was disappointed to see that Costa had run run this lovely ship to the ground.

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- too many announcements - this goes hand and hand with the push for revenue. Starting at about 8:30am the constant and relentless push for revenue began. About every 30 minutes an announcement for shore excursions began first in English, then Spanish. Extremely annoying especially when you’re trying to have a relaxing sleep-in. After the Cruise Director gave up on shore excursions, the push for the spa began. Again every 30 minutes until about 11:30am and in two languages. It was very off-putting and tarnished what could have been an otherwise excellent experience.

 

- onboard water - Yes it’s potable water and you can drink it (and I did), but it’s heavily chlorinated to the point where it really tasted foul. I drink the tap water on all the ships I’ve sailed, and most of it is quite good, but something is off with the tap water on CLASSICA. Some adjustment needs to be made. Of course they are happy to sell you bottled water.

 

I would happily return for another cruise on GRAND CLASSICA, but I would be better prepared with ear plugs if I wanted to sleep in! Otherwise it was overall a great experience and very well done. I highly recommend sailing on this gem of a ship if you have the opportunity. She really has a lot to offer and it’s a great opportunity to sail on an old-school world class ship with very little financial burden. As I mentioned earlier BPCL is rumored to eying a third ship, possibly for longer cruises (3 or 4 nights) and out of a different embarkation port. I would happily sail with them again on a longer cruise, but the off-putting push for revenue would have be to toned down considerably for that to happen. Please enjoy the photos which include the daily activity programs, and let me know if you have any questions.

 

Grand Celebration did not have announcements like that - I mean there were announcements but they def were not long winded and only sometimes were they done in spanish

 

We found by buying 2 of the large bottles of water worked perfect for our cabin for the trip

 

If you have not been on celebration yet you should really give her a shot she sounds a lot better than this one and I agree with your statement about making slightly longer cruises if they get a new ship as that could actually probably increase their business

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- too many announcements - this goes hand and hand with the push for revenue. Starting at about 8:30am the constant and relentless push for revenue began. About every 30 minutes an announcement for shore excursions began first in English, then Spanish. Extremely annoying especially when you’re trying to have a relaxing sleep-in. After the Cruise Director gave up on shore excursions, the push for the spa began. Again every 30 minutes until about 11:30am and in two languages. It was very off-putting and tarnished what could have been an otherwise excellent experience.

 

- onboard water - Yes it’s potable water and you can drink it (and I did), but it’s heavily chlorinated to the point where it really tasted foul. I drink the tap water on all the ships I’ve sailed, and most of it is quite good, but something is off with the tap water on CLASSICA. Some adjustment needs to be made. Of course they are happy to sell you bottled water.

 

I would happily return for another cruise on GRAND CLASSICA, but I would be better prepared with ear plugs if I wanted to sleep in! Otherwise it was overall a great experience and very well done. I highly recommend sailing on this gem of a ship if you have the opportunity. She really has a lot to offer and it’s a great opportunity to sail on an old-school world class ship with very little financial burden. As I mentioned earlier BPCL is rumored to eying a third ship, possibly for longer cruises (3 or 4 nights) and out of a different embarkation port. I would happily sail with them again on a longer cruise, but the off-putting push for revenue would have be to toned down considerably for that to happen. Please enjoy the photos which include the daily activity programs, and let me know if you have any questions.

 

Grand Celebration did not have announcements like that - I mean there were announcements but they def were not long winded and only sometimes were they done in spanish

 

We found by buying 2 of the large bottles of water worked perfect for our cabin for the trip

 

If you have not been on celebration yet you should really give her a shot she sounds a lot better than this one and I agree with your statement about making slightly longer cruises if they get a new ship as that could actually probably increase their business

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The ship was not run into the ground, not by a long shot. In fact she is a lovely ship and as I mentioned in the review a great ship. She is already running very smoothly.

 

I’ve already sailed on Grand Celebration when she was a Carnival ship along with both her sisters. I’m not a fan. Been there done that and no need to return.

 

Grand Classica is in a different league than Grand Celebration from a ship perspective. A much higher caliber ship. That is entirely the reason I wanted to sail in her. I wasn’t disappointed. I think even BPCL realizes what a high caliber ship they have acquired as they are already touting this fact in some of their promotions. They seem very proud to have acquired the ship and should be. She is a gem.

 

Funny enough when I sailed on the predecessor to BPCL, known as Imperial Majesty with the REGAL EMPRESS, the announcements were also in abundance. Seems to have carried over to BPCL.

Edited by eroller
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Thanks for the trip report. Your photos are some of the best I've seen. The rooms look spacious, larger than I've stayed in. I agree with you about Freeport. Nassau is stay on the ship for me.

I also enjoyed reading the history about the ships:).

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Many, many thanks for an excellent and informative review with an album of pictures that you ought to market to the Company. I'm interested in experiencing Grand Classica. It won't be until next Winter, though. (My travel plans for 2018 are set and firm.)

 

Your photos show the minimalist decor scheme that you mentioned in your review. It's easy to see why some North American cruisers would have found such an interior "cold and sterile" in comparison to the interiors of some of the other cruise ships of the day such as those designed by Joe Farcus.

 

I chuckled when I saw the Day One Daily Program you posted. Reminds me of Princess Patters: so much reading material that to fully comprehend it all, it would take many of your early hours aboard the ship. (I prefer HAL's more simple "When and Where" that they are now using.)

 

A Question: What was the nationalties of the Hotel Staff and the Officers? You mentioned that your service was what you would expect, so they must have been trained properly elsewhere.

 

Thanks again for your efforts!

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The ship was not run into the ground, not by a long shot. In fact she is a lovely ship and as I mentioned in the review a great ship. She is already running very smoothly.

 

I’ve already sailed on Grand Celebration when she was a Carnival ship along with both her sisters. I’m not a fan. Been there done that and no need to return.

 

Grand Classica is in a different league than Grand Celebration from a ship perspective. A much higher caliber ship. That is entirely the reason I wanted to sail in her. I wasn’t disappointed. I think even BPCL realizes what a high caliber ship they have acquired as they are already touting this fact in some of their promotions. They seem very proud to have acquired the ship and should be. She is a gem.

 

Funny enough when I sailed on the predecessor to BPCL, known as Imperial Majesty with the REGAL EMPRESS, the announcements were also in abundance. Seems to have carried over to BPCL.

 

Im sorry but you havent been on the Celebration lately so you cannot compare it to the ship you sailed on when Carnival owned it. BTW, you didn’t mention your cabin. I was on the Classica for her inaurgural luncheon and the toilets outside the MDR were backing up. I am also not fond of her theater and the cheap wood paneling to entrance of the theater. All these things will be fixed by the cruise line I am sure but you cannot compare ships when you were only on one of them recently as I have been on both of them recently. To each his own.

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Im sorry but you havent been on the Celebration lately so you cannot compare it to the ship you sailed on when Carnival owned it. BTW, you didn’t mention your cabin. I was on the Classica for her inaurgural luncheon and the toilets outside the MDR were backing up. I am also not fond of her theater and the cheap wood paneling to entrance of the theater. All these things will be fixed by the cruise line I am sure but you cannot compare ships when you were only on one of them recently as I have been on both of them recently. To each his own.

 

 

 

I’ve seen the pictures of the ship. Costa removed much of the Farcus decor but otherwise very little has changed. The layout and cabins are exactly the same, as are the pool decks. Just not my cup of tea and no reason to return. I have too many other ships to try. I’m glad you like it though, to each their own. My interest in ships goes beyond just the cruise experience. I’m interested in the history and architecture of the ships which is why CLASSICA had such an interest to me. I was very pleased with the ship and experience overall, but now on to other cruises and ships.

 

My cabin on CLASSICA was nice. Very comfortable. Big enough for a small couch but there was just chair. Great bathroom, spacious closets. A/C that worked great, comfortable bed, and everything was very clean. My only complaint is the sound proofing with the door. More than adequate for a two night trip and certainly even longer.

 

I used several of the public restrooms on the ship and everything worked great.

 

If you don’t agree with my viewpoints that’s fine. You’re entitled to your own opinions and experiences as am I.

Edited by eroller
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Thank you for the great review and pictures. I am excited to finally see the classica when we sail on Saturday.

having just sailed on the Celebration a few weeks ago, I am interested to experience the differences in the two.

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Thank you for the great review and pictures. I am excited to finally see the classica when we sail on Saturday.

having just sailed on the Celebration a few weeks ago, I am interested to experience the differences in the two.

 

 

You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed the review. I hope you enjoy the ship as much as I did.

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A Question: What was the nationalties of the Hotel Staff and the Officers? You mentioned that your service was what you would expect, so they must have been trained properly elsewhere.

 

 

 

I actually never saw a single bridge officer, but the hotel staff and crew and mainly "international" which is the norm these days on most cruise lines. So mainly from Asian countries with a smattering of Eastern European nationalities as well. They all seemed well trained and everything ran quite smoothly.

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I’ve seen the pictures of the ship. Costa removed much of the Farcus decor but otherwise very little has changed. The layout and cabins are exactly the same, as are the pool decks. Just not my cup of tea and no reason to return. I have too many other ships to try. I’m glad you like it though, to each their own. My interest in ships goes beyond just the cruise experience. I’m interested in the history and architecture of the ships which is why CLASSICA had such an interest to me. I was very pleased with the ship and experience overall, but now on to other cruises and ships.

 

My cabin on CLASSICA was nice. Very comfortable. Big enough for a small couch but there was just chair. Great bathroom, spacious closets. A/C that worked great, comfortable bed, and everything was very clean. My only complaint is the sound proofing with the door. More than adequate for a two night trip and certainly even longer.

 

I used several of the public restrooms on the ship and everything worked great.

 

If you don’t agree with my viewpoints that’s fine. You’re entitled to your own opinions and experiences as am I.

 

Nice review, thanks..question on the A/C: I read that on the Celebration, you CANNOT control the room temp...I LOVE the cabin cold when I sleep..do you have your own A/C thermostat & can you control the cabin temp? Also did the shower have removable shower head or was it NOT moveable ?? Thanks!

 

Big Al

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Nice review, thanks..question on the A/C: I read that on the Celebration, you CANNOT control the room temp...I LOVE the cabin cold when I sleep..do you have your own A/C thermostat & can you control the cabin temp? Also did the shower have removable shower head or was it NOT moveable ?? Thanks!

 

 

 

Big Al

 

 

 

There is a real thermostat in the cabin so you can control the temperature. I also like the cabin cold for sleeping and it worked great for me. Also the shower head can be removed from its holder to become a handheld if desired.

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There is a real thermostat in the cabin so you can control the temperature. I also like the cabin cold for sleeping and it worked great for me. Also the shower head can be removed from its holder to become a handheld if desired.

 

 

Great, thanks!! :cool:

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