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birdylady

Grandeur to Bermuda - April 25-May1

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We sailed the Grandeur of the Seas from Baltmore to Bermuda & Charleston on April 25- May 1.  I wanted to share our experience as others sharing before us helped us get ready for our trip, I wanted to do the same.  As life has been busy, it has taken me a little bit to get to where I could write this.  Hopefully it will have value for some. If anyone has questions, please feel free to ask.  

 

A little background.  We had booked this cruise over a year and a half ago.  Bermuda has been on hubby’s bucket list for a while.  And since we live in the Carolinas, we said – It’s drivable.  Fast forward to last year.  Do to family situations, it became a very busy and stressful year. So, we decided to fly.  By the date for the trip arrived, we were WELL beyond needing a vacation.

Also, I used to live and work in Baltimore many years ago so was looking forward to see  going back and seeing what’s changed (lots).

 

April 24 - After much anticipation our travel day arrived.  We always like to fly(drive) to port the day before the cruise.  We flew from Charlotte to BWI.  Everything went smoothly, timely and quickly.  We got our luggage quickly, called for our Uber and within 5 minutes we were on our way to the Inner Harbor.   We had booked a room at the Brookshire Suites (a Best Western boutique hotel).  They are located on Lombard Street, one block from the Inner Harbor (catty corner to The Gallery).   We got there before regular check in time.  We were told the basic room we reserved was not ready yet, but she was able to upgrade us and check us in at no extra cost.  We were given our room cards and told when/where the complimentary breakfast is held.  We got in the elevator which requires the proximity room card to operate.  We walked into our room. Wow.  It was a one-bedroom suite.  There was a small kitchenette (small fridge, coffee maker and microwave), a living room with desk, chair, sofa and tv.  The bedroom had an amazingly comfortable bed along with tv, nightstands, clock, mirror, etc..  The bathroom was small but nicely appointed and did have a tub/shower combo.  The windows in each room looked towards the alley & other buildings, nothing special. But the good news is it didn’t face the road so that would reduce any city noise.  IF I had to look for anything ‘wrong’ with the room and condition the most I could say bad was the door hinge in the bathroom was either dirty or rusty and the sprinkler ‘head’ was missing the molding around it. Oh, and the remote for the living room tv didn’t work.  All no big deals.  And the cost was (after taxes, fees, etc..) was approx. $100!  The breakfast was standard BW breakfast fare (waffles, cereal, eggs, muffins, juice, coffee, etc...)

 

When we checked in, we asked about a shuttle to the pier.  They hooked us up with EZ Shuttle Service. We requested 10:30am.  They said they would contact the company and gave us their card so we could call if we had any questions.  We then decided to go out and about.  We walked down to Inner Harbor. The ‘shops’ in the 2 main buildings had changed considerable.  One building used to be a whole slew of different food and craft type stands/businesses.  Now they were just a few tourist type stores and a couple food places.  We walked around the harbor over to where Rusty Scupper is and took the free harbor ferry over to the other side.  We then walked around and over to the Barnes and Noble and back up and around.  Hubby wanted to go up to the Top of the World observation tower as we had never done that (have done aquarium more times than I can count).  We then had a simple dinner and did a little more walking.  Before winding down, we walked a block over to the Royal Farms (think 7/11 type store) and I bought a package of Bergers Cookies.  As a side note, I am proud that they made it all the way through the cruise and home before I opened them.  IF you like cookies and chocolate, check them out. They are a local Baltimore thing.

 

 

 

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Embarkation Day - 

April 25 - When we got up (earlier than planned) and called to ask if it would be easier for them to pick us up earlier, that we would be available.  This was about 9ish (after breakfast and a walk around the town). He said he could be there at 9:30. We were ready and he was even early.  We were to port in about 15 minutes.  The driver asked if we needed a ride when we come back. I told him we thought we might be set but we would call (more later on this!). It took all of about 5 minutes from the time we walked through the door to the time were checked in and had our sea passes in hand. As the ship wasn’t boarding yet, and we are Diamond and in a JS, we were escorted to the private waiting area.  There were a few folks already there ahead of us.  After a brief time, they started boarding. I think that was probably about 10:30.  And just like that we were some of the first folks on the ship.  Hubby was able to walk around and get a bunch of photos of a fairly empty ship.  Of course, it didn’t stay empty for long.

 

The first thing we did, as usual, was go to the service desk and ask for a hole punch in our sea pass cards.  Then to the dining room to check our table (great table, location and to find out later, dinner-mates).   We walked around a little and ended up at the WJ for lunch.  As usual, same basic fare, but fresh and plentiful.  We met another couple and talked with them for a while till about 10 minutes till rooms would be ready. So we went to our deck and we saw our checked luggage on the cart.  We had it and were to our cabin within minutes.   We unpacked, put our luggage away and vacation could officially begin.  WAHOO.

 

I then went to the exploration desk to see if RCI had a shuttle to the airport for when we returned. The employee started to pull out the brochure at which point I stated there’s NOTHING there for the day to return. He went to speak with a manager and he came back with ‘No, no shuttles’.  Hmmm, this is the first time I had EVER heard they didn’t offer shuttles to the airport (okay, never checked in Galveston, but have seen before).  Since we were still in port, I called EZ Shuttle and made reservations for 9am. I would also call him when were getting off the ship. (more to this at disembarkation).  Later in the cruise I happened to ‘meet’ the person in charge of all the guest services/exploration desk and after hearing they had shuttles mentioned to her what I had hear. As it turned out, we could not have used it as the shuttle is only for flights after 2pm.  Learning opportunity for her team. 

 

This evening we went to our dinner and found out we had some great dinner companions.  We all enjoyed having dinner together during the week.  Our servers, Zhongbo (w) and Resti (aw) and Erhan (hw) were all great and left us wanting for nothing. Well, except the first time someone ordered fish. As it turns out, they don’t always have tarter sauce made up. SO if you order fish, order tarter when you order your dinner or you’ll have to wait a bit.

 

We then went to the one, welcome aboard show.  We got to ‘meet’ our cruise director, John Blair. I think did a fine job during the week.  The comedian though, didn’t impress us. So needless to say, we didn’t go to his late-night show.  As an FYI- the casino doesn’t open the first night as we’re still in US waters.  We decided to call it a night as we were tired.  Interestingly enough, hubby woke up just before midnight and looked on the tv (front of ship cam) and noticed we were coming to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. So we both got up and checked it out.  As we had an aft balcony it was neat to see. Oddly enough, we noticed they had police cars on each side of the tunnel stopping traffic.  I’m guessing they must do this for some of the ships for safety sake.

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April 26 - Sea Day – Today was the M&M.  They held it in the South Pacific Lounge.  Both John & Katrina hosted it and they raffled off a variety of RCI swag.  They were very interactive and asked all winners to identify where they were from, their Cruise Critic names and what their real names were.  It was well run and a nice opportunity to meet folks.  From here we had to go to the theater for the past cruise event.  We had schedule a Slot Pull for 1:30 and the Casino host had donated 3 t-shirts.  I had also spoke with John at the M&M about it and asked if they had anything they could donate and after the M&M he handed me a large handful of key rings and pens.  So even though we didn’t hit it big at the slot pull, everyone walked away with something.  A fun time had by all.

 

 

Most of the day we just enjoyed the ship, played at the casino.  The day flew by.  That evening was an opportunity to have our photo with the captain. The picture actually came out decent.

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Awesome so far, thanks so much for sharing, we hope to do this cruise one day so looking forward to the rest of the review!

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7 minutes ago, ShillyShally said:

Awesome so far, thanks so much for sharing, we hope to do this cruise one day so looking forward to the rest of the review!

Thank you. I believe I saw you following some of the other Grandeur threads I was following.  Great ship, amazing crew.

Erika

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April 27 - Bermuda – Day 1 – We had purchased the Drive By Mini Bus excursion for 1:30.  We had tickets that said to report to the theater at 1.  Our group was the first called.  The RCI employee walked us to the exit and told use to head ashore.  Once again, they ‘left you hanging’.  Once we got off the ship, there were no people standing there with paddles or signs saying where to go.  We walked out to where we saw buses.  The first person we saw near the buses had a bright vest on.  They asked us how many and we said two, but that there was a whole group.  She tried directing us to a private tour van.  We stated we were with RCI excursion and then she directed us to the actual bus.  Once we were on the bus, everything went well. The driver/tour guide was excellent. He was a native Bermudian and he shared excellent information.  Due to the Triathlon in Hamilton, he took us to St. Georges first in hopes he could get us to Hamilton later.  We made a number of stops along the way to and from St. Georges, including about an hour stop in St. Georges.  Near the end of the time there a thunderstorm started.  Luckily we brought our umbrella expecting this.  Once we got to Hamilton he tried and tried to get us to a shop he said a friend was keeping open for us.  Unfortunately, there was no way to get in.  We were able to drive around a bit at least to see and learn about it.  Since he couldn’t get us in, he offered to take us to Glass Beach. This place was littered with sea glass (which they have signs saying you can’t take any).  It’s interesting to see and there are some steps (some with railing, some without).  But this is not a ‘beach’ in the sense of place to hang out and swim by any means.  The tour was supposed to be 1:30-6.  He got us back to the ship just before 7.  Great tour.  As we knew we would be late, we told our dining companions and wait staff the day before we would not be joining them. We went to WJ instead for a good dinner.

 

On an interesting side note. When we disembarked, there was another ship there.  The Mariella Discovery 2.  First thing we said to each other is that HAD to be an old Royal ship. We just didn’t know which one.  When we were in the DL that night, in talking with someone they said it was the Legend of the Seas. We looked it up and presto, yes it was.  She was a great ship and we loved her so it was kind of nice to see her again.  (side, side note- Last year’s cruise we were parked next to a Pullmantur ship thinking the same thing and it was the Monarch. LOL)

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2 minutes ago, birdylady said:

Thank you. I believe I saw you following some of the other Grandeur threads I was following.  Great ship, amazing crew.

Erika

Indeed, we're about an hour drive from the port so on our short list for our next cruise when life settles down enough to offer the choice of where we're spending our leave 🙂

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3 hours ago, birdylady said:

I bought a package of Bergers Cookies.  As a side note, I am proud that they made it all the way through the cruise and home before I opened them. 

This is impressive. I would have had them open before the ship sailed.

 

Enjoying your review.

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Posted (edited)

April 28 – Bermuda – Day 2 – Since all aboard was 2, we decided to sleep in and then just walk around the shops.  We walked around and meandered in and out of the different shops.  I did have to stop in Pandora which had a line of folks waiting to buy.  There was only 1 employee so that certainly slowed things down. She said another was scheduled, but didn’t know what happened to them (ferry issues?).  When we were done, since we had time, we decided to ride the little tram around once.  It went throughout the dockyard (everywhere we just walked).

 

When we went to get lunch we thought we would hit the solarium afterwards. Well, the only problem was, surprise, most of the chairs had towels on them.  To bad most didn’t have people on them. Oh well…

 

 

 

Edited by birdylady

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April 29 – Sea Day – Another day to enjoy this great ship and socialize with some of our new friends.  That night we had David Lucas as the Headliner.  He was very talented and did a great show.  When I googled him before the trip, I didn’t find ‘him’.  I found a different entertainer. But this David Lucas used to do Ice Capades and has been in the entertainment world since he was 2. He comes for an interesting family background of entertainers and grew up with some famous names.   Definitely make a point of seeing his show if you ever get the chance. Tonight was also the 70’s dance party.

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April 30 – Charleston – As this is the first ‘stop’ back in the US, ALL guests had to go through customs.  Everyone had the choice of getting off the ship afterwards or going back on. The catch was, whichever you chose, you could not change until ALL people were accounted for.  From what we understand they were looking for 1 person for over an hour that was holding things up.  For that, we were glad we got off when we did.  We understand the person was actually on an RCI excursion so not sure how they were missed.  They do assign times for people to report to customs based on excursions (RCI or private), then by decks.  They did do this very quickly so that was nice. 

 

As we live a few hours from here and have been before, we decided to keep it simple. Hubby had never been to Fort Sumter. So, instead of paying RCI over $100 each, we bought two tickets on-line for total cost of < $50.  We ended up walking with another couple to the ferry (near the aquarium) which was about a 15-minute walk.  We took the ferry over and walked around the fort for about an hour and rode back.  Then we walked back to the Market (it was actually open earlier and we walked it first) to buy a few items.  We were back on then ship early and enjoyed the quiet time.  As all aboard was 6:30, MDR was kinda quiet. This was the night they did the anniversary cake.  I have to say, not only was it very nicely done, it had to be one of the best tasting deserts I’ve ever had in the MDR.

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6 minutes ago, Cru1s1ng2009 said:

is this cake being served once on every cruise this year?

I had seen pics on prior cruise reviews so I knew to ask. When I asked the head waiter (Erhan) he said he didn't know how long they would be doing this.  Supposedly it was a week by week thing.  As an FYI- they only brought one cake to our table.  Since that night it was only 3 of us, no problem. We all shared. But it wasn't a huge cake so if you have a 6 top or larger table, I would certainly ask for an extra (or two?).  They did make an announcement that evening and the waiters and all sang that night as well. HAD I known we would get the cake, I wouldn't have ordered dessert, but then I probably wouldn't have wanted to share it. LOL.  I wish I could have ordered it the following nights too.

Erika

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How was the condition of the ship as a whole.  What about your JS?:classic_smile:

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20 minutes ago, mafig said:

How was the condition of the ship as a whole.  What about your JS?:classic_smile:

I think the ship was in excellent condition. If we looked closely we could see a few things that weren't perfect (example. a few 'decorations' in the theater were missing) but nothing that impacted our enjoyment of the ship. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the Charleston day (due to customs and such) all elevators seemed to be working better than most of the sailings we've been on.  So that was nice.

 

The JS was nice and clean and everything was in working order. As a matter of fact a first happened. We usually turn the AC to the coldest setting and it NEVER gets COLD.  Just not as hot.  This time I actually had to raise the temp cause it was getting so cold.   And our bed and mattresses were the new higher & thicker ones.  SOOOOO NICE!!  Please RCI, roll these out to ALL the ships.  Best nights sleep on a ship ever.

Erika

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May 1 – Sea Day-  We always try to get our packing done on the last day early. So after lunch, we packed all we could so we could then go out and enjoy the rest of our trip.  They had a Grandeur Fair.  We had never experienced anything like this on a cruise before.  They had in the Centrum everything from magnetic darts, putt-putt, football throw, limbo, cupcake decorating, t-shirt folding, bed making and who knows what else. For participating you got either a Kat-Buck or Johnnie-Cash slip.   If you succeeded in the ‘event’ you got 3 slips.  You wrote your name and cabin and it went in for a drawing for RCI swag.  Everyone really enjoyed it. 

 

The rest of the day we just enjoyed the ship.  Interestingly, again, the casino closed early (7ish) since we would be heading into the bay by maybe 9ish.   I have to say, I wonder how much revenue they lose on this sailing since the casino is closed as much as it is.  To be fair, my pocketbook didn't complain about that. LOL

 

We were back in our cabin at the time we did cross the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel so we went out on the balcony to watch the crossing again.  And again, the police had traffic stopped.  It was a unique experience to see (well, twice, once each way).

 

Erika


 

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29 minutes ago, birdylady said:

The JS was nice and clean and everything was in working order. As a matter of fact a first happened. We usually turn the AC to the coldest setting and it NEVER gets COLD.  Just not as hot.  This time I actually had to raise the temp cause it was getting so cold.   And our bed and mattresses were the new higher & thicker ones.  SOOOOO NICE!!  Please RCI, roll these out to ALL the ships.  Best nights sleep on a ship ever.

Erika

 

Ooo, I hope we get the new mattresses!  We'll be in a JS too.  Do they really have coffee makers in the cabin?  What kind and is the coffee any good?

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12 minutes ago, CruisinCrow said:

 

Ooo, I hope we get the new mattresses!  We'll be in a JS too.  Do they really have coffee makers in the cabin?  What kind and is the coffee any good?

I believe there was a coffee maker & a tea kettle.  Whatever they had also had a little tray next to it with the items that were to be used with it (sugar, individual creamers, etc..).  The coffee were little pouches, not kcups. We didn't use any of it though so I can't tell you good from bad. I will say I got a cafe latte from DL one morning and something was way wrong with it. It tasted like the sludge from tree bark.  Even hubby said it was way wrong.  That made the Windjammer coffee taste good in comparison.

Erika

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7 minutes ago, birdylady said:

I believe there was a coffee maker & a tea kettle.  Whatever they had also had a little tray next to it with the items that were to be used with it (sugar, individual creamers, etc..).  The coffee were little pouches, not kcups. We didn't use any of it though so I can't tell you good from bad. I will say I got a cafe latte from DL one morning and something was way wrong with it. It tasted like the sludge from tree bark.  Even hubby said it was way wrong.  That made the Windjammer coffee taste good in comparison.

Erika

 

Thanks!  No DL for us so that won't be an issue. :classic_smile:  Actually I have the drink package so I can get coffee at Latte-Tudes but my mom and sister both drink a lot of coffee and would probably appreciate the convenience of having it in the cabin.

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53 minutes ago, CruisinCrow said:

 

Thanks!  No DL for us so that won't be an issue. :classic_smile:  Actually I have the drink package so I can get coffee at Latte-Tudes but my mom and sister both drink a lot of coffee and would probably appreciate the convenience of having it in the cabin.

If they drink a lot of coffee/tea and want it in the cabin, just let your room steward know to bring some extra. You'll never be without. 🙂

Erika

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Alas... the end has come. 😞

 

May 2 – Baltimore -  As customs was done in Charleston, this was something that was not needed for here.  This made for a VERY expedient disembarkation.  It was nice that John & Katrina were there personally wishing the guests farewell.

 

Now, as far as transport goes (remember, I said I would get back to this).  One of the couples we had dinner with were also flying out of BWI today (2 hours later than us). I remembered being told on our initial shuttle the price was for up to 4 people. So, I called and confirmed they were good with us bringing another couple. They said yes but changed the price. From $35 to 65.  I confirmed total 4 people and changed to $45. No biggie. They told me to call when we were getting off the ship. All good. I did.  We got out and waited. About 5 minutes to 9 (p/u time) the driver shows up right near where we’re standing. I’m like how great is this? We head over to the vehicle and he said he wasn’t expecting to pick us up till 9 so he had another passenger to take to a hotel in town and he would be ‘right back’. 9:15, still nothing. I call 9:30, he said he was on his way.  9:50 I call again, and he says he’s just dropping off the luggage and will definitely get us to BWI by 10:30 (boarding for us is 11:30).  10am hits and I decide to grab cabs. $30 to BWI.  Each couple grabbed a cab. As soon as the trunk was shut, and we were in the back seat, I could see the shuttle driver pulling in. I texted saying we grabbed a cab.   So, tell me. IF you have an appt for a 9am pick up. HOW THE HECK do you have another at 8:55?  I just wish hubby let me grab the cabs earlier. This definitely took some of my relaxed mellow away.

 

We got to BWI and went through TSA pre-check.  The line actually was longer the regular one, but at least we didn’t have to undress and empty all our bags.  When our carry-ons went through the scanner, my carry on with the Berger cookies (and now some Benne wafers from Charleston) got pulled aside for secondary exam (as did the bag of another person behind us).  So, we wait, and wait and wait.  We see agents coming and going.  Finally, I ask another agent about it.  He went to the screener and the screener looked and said, ‘I thought someone was there’. DUH!  So, the agent I asked was nice enough to look and send us through.  Eventually, we made it to our gate just before our plane arrived. Phew.  The flight went smoothly, and we arrived back at Charlotte early.  Of course, that meant there was no gate ready.  Oh well. At least were on the ground safe and sound. 

 

The rest of the story is just getting back home and picking up the dog and getting back on track for work (yes, I was stupid enough to plan to work on Friday).  

 

If anyone has any questions or wants pictures, I will be happy to answer and see if I can post (for some reason, always a challenge on CC for me).

 

I'll leave you with - If you have a chance to sail Grandeur, do it. She is a great ship and her crew is absolutely amazing. 

Erika

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Just seems like such a short time to be in Bermuda.

 

:classic_sad:

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6 minutes ago, mafig said:

Just seems like such a short time to be in Bermuda.

 

:classic_sad:

It would have been nice to have been there for a FULL day. Or better yet 2 full days with the overnight. AND if Hamilton wasn't basically shut down. But it is what it was.

Erika

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I was also on this cruise celebrating my 50th birthday,  We have been on the Grandeur of the Seas five times and really love this ship.  It was a wonderful time and I loved the ports of call.  Celebrity has a cruise out of Bayonne NJ which has a three day stay in Bermuda.  We are looking into booking that cruise for 2020.

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We were on the week before you.  I have to agree with the taste of the latte from the machine in the DL.  I had even brought along a bottle of Carmel syrup to spice it up, but even that didn’t work. 

 

After tasting it, we bought the coffee card and got real ones each morning.  

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