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rafinmd

Grandeur of the Seas, Voyage of the Saints, November 10-22, 2018

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No, it isn’t an official name, but I’m calling the cruise I join tomorrow the Voyage of the Saints.  It’s officially a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise with 3 straight sea days down and another 3 straight sea days back.  In between we have 5 ports:

 

Frederiksted, St. Croix
St. Johns, Antigua
Castries, St. Lucia
Basseterre, St. Kitts
and
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

 

image1.jpg

 

I’m very much an out of control cruiser.  My usual cruise lines are Crystal, HAL, and Cunard but Royal is quite a strong 4th, especially for their service out of Baltimore.  This will be my 3rd or 4th cruise on Lady G (depending on how my B2B is counted, 6th or 7th Royal Cruise from Baltimore (with 3 on Enchantment) and my 12th or 13th overall.  In part I selected the 12-day itinerary because it will JUST move me up to D+ (love the double points for solos).  

 

I’m more of a narrative than a visual person but there will be some photos.  I will normally post once a day the following morning unless something urgent comes up.  I will link to a few photos,  The posts will be pretty much a repeat of my blog which will likely have some more photos and also tabs with the daily Compasses and Menus.  The blog is at:

http://getawaysfrom21044.wordpress.com

 

One more sleep until I’m on board.

 

Roy

 

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1 hour ago, rafinmd said:

No, it isn’t an official name, but I’m calling the cruise I join tomorrow the Voyage of the Saints.  It’s officially a 12-day Southern Caribbean cruise with 3 straight sea days down and another 3 straight sea days back.  In between we have 5 ports:

 

Frederiksted, St. Croix
St. Johns, Antigua
Castries, St. Lucia
Basseterre, St. Kitts
and
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten

 

image1.jpg

 

I’m very much an out of control cruiser.  My usual cruise lines are Crystal, HAL, and Cunard but Royal is quite a strong 4th, especially for their service out of Baltimore.  This will be my 3rd or 4th cruise on Lady G (depending on how my B2B is counted, 6th or 7th Royal Cruise from Baltimore (with 3 on Enchantment) and my 12th or 13th overall.  In part I selected the 12-day itinerary because it will JUST move me up to D+ (love the double points for solos).  

 

I’m more of a narrative than a visual person but there will be some photos.  I will normally post once a day the following morning unless something urgent comes up.  I will link to a few photos,  The posts will be pretty much a repeat of my blog which will likely have some more photos and also tabs with the daily Compasses and Menus.  The blog is at:

http://getawaysfrom21044.wordpress.com

 

One more sleep until I’m on board.

 

Roy

 

That's funny! That's what I have been calling it!

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I'm going to try and follow this.  I did a live thread on Grandeur earlier in April of this year and it was great.  I'm planning to do the same thing on Navigator when I board later this month.

 

Have a great cruise.

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Oh, I just noticed.  You're getting Mike Szwajkowski as your cruise director for this cruise.  He is a blast.  He is one of the best, if not THE best cruise director i've ever had on Royal Caribbean.  He's tied with Joff Eaton in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, Rogueperson said:

Oh, I just noticed.  You're getting Mike Szwajkowski as your cruise director for this cruise.  He is a blast.  He is one of the best, if not THE best cruise director i've ever had on Royal Caribbean.  He's tied with Joff Eaton in my opinion.

I haven't yet sailed with Mike but he is getting glowing reports from a roll call member finishing the first segment of a B2B.

 

Roy

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I will be on the Grandeur in December...so excited.  Our first time in a Grand Suite and our first Diamond Plus Cruise.  Bon Voyage, and I'll definitely check out your review....

 

 

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54 minutes ago, rafinmd said:

I haven't yet sailed with Mike but he is getting glowing reports from a roll call member finishing the first segment of a B2B.

 

Roy

He recently returned to Royal Caribbean earlier this year.  He does the general cruise director stuff, but its not what he does, but how he does it.  You can tell he genuinely loves his job and is invested in making sure the passengers have a good time.  That by itself says volume.  He's also not adverse to trying new things so there's a good chance you will see activities on Grandeur that you've not seen on other cruises.  On my cruise, he did a family feud and a Jeopardy session which i had never seen before.

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Thanks all.  I just checked marinetraffic and see MY SHIP HAS COME IN.  3 hours until the Airport Shuttle picks me up.

 

Roy

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Looking  forward  to following  you  on this trip. Love the description  "out of control cruiser". This voyage  is an interesting  combination  of sea and port days, visiting  some interesting  islands. 

Mary  

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What can you say about the differences between Enchantment and Grandeur?    I did a 12 night on Enchantment out of Baltimore before and now have a 9 night on Grandeur set up for March.    I found Enchantment to be crowded in common areas (theater, buffet) and I thought it might be because of the extra cabins.   

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I’m just using you to live vicariously through you until my cruise which ironically begins the day you get back.  I’ll be around the airport the day you get back to fly to Miami for my trip on the Navigator.

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I'm really anxious to hear what kind of weather you have for the three days at sea. I know the water off of the Carolinas can be a problem sometimes. I'm wishing for smooth sailing for you all...as I have a couple of friends onboard who don't need the bad stuff. Thanks for keeping all of us in your loop!

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ktrub and mushroom I'll get back to you after a couple of days (especially on the weather and it will be interesting to see how much difference there is on the weather back vs down.  I boarded about 45 minutes ago and have seen a couple of changes from 2 years ago, one positive and the other not so much.  Last time the time between boarding and room availability was a little nicer because there was a check space for carryons but today I must lug everything around with me. 

 

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure 2 years ago the code to use my pre-purchased internet was in my room so I had to wait until 1PM to go online.  Today the card was given to me on check-in so I'm good to go on wifi.

 

It seems to be pretty much a given that the WJ will be a zoo for embarkation lunch.  I walked through it briefly and that still seems to be the case.  There was a bit of a line to order at the Park Cafe but once I had my food eating it was a LOT more civilized.  I thought the special on embarkation was roast beef sandwiches but today it was roast turkey and it was excellent.

 

I know people have varying ideas about when a cruise starts but I think for me it's when I see my home for the next 12 days.  Right now that's about a half hour away.  While Park Cafe still isn't yet crowded I think it's time to open my table for others and head down to the Diamond Lounge to wait.

 

Roy

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In case people were watching on AIS or something we had a medical disembarkation and ended up leaving a little over an hour late.  Off to dinner now.

 

Roy

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Following your travels - we are doing this cruise in Jan.... can't wait to hear more!  Thank you for doing a live!

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Hi Roy.  I doubt I will ever take this cruise but I will still enjoy reading your blog!  Have a wonderful trip.

 

~Nancy

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Thank you Krazy Kruizers, Nancy, Sue, laumicmah, and Funsinger75.

 

Day 0, Saturday, November 10, 2018, Board Grandeur of the Seas, Baltimore

There had been a nasty rain Friday but it cleared up overnight and Saturday morning was sunny but quite chilly with a biting wind.  The Airport Shuttle had called Friday evening and moved my pickup time from 10:10 to 10:20, so I was a bit surprised (but ready) when the driver knocked on my door at 10:05.  I had already put my checked bags on the step about 9:30, and they were already in the van by the time I turned off all the lights and locked the door.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/chkdbags.jpg


This is a shared ride service and one couple was already in the van; our final passenger did not seem at all rushed to meet us but the ride was smooth and we were dropping off our bags by 11.

Checkin in Baltimore is largely by Crown and Anchor with shared lines for 2 levels each, but the lines all seemed to get to the desk about the same time.  The actual checkin was pretty quick and I was handed my seapass card and the code for the internet plan I had purchased and crossed the gangway a little before 11:30.

There are 2 main places for lunch on embarkation day.  The Windjammer Buffet (WJ) has a lot of selections but is pretty much a zoo on embarkation.  The alternative is the Park Café which has a more limited selection and a bit of a line for service, but the atmosphere is much nicer and the limited selection included a very nice roast turkey sandwich.  The last time I was on Grandeur there was a bag check in the South Pacific Lounge but it has been discontinued and I had to lug my carryon bag around until 1.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/carryon.jpg


The rooms opened at 1.  This time I’m down on the lowest cabin deck with an oceanview room, 2048.  I think it’s pretty much like my previous Grandeur rooms although I think the rooms on the higher desk have a picture window; this cabin has a pair of small windows with a bit of steel in the middle.  It came with a Queen bed but I had them changed to a single bed at turndown, as the big bed makes it harder to look out the window.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/gr2048.jpg


I was very lucky on luggage.  Both of my bags arrived by 1 so it much of the unpacking happened before muster time (3:15).  I think I remember taking my life jacket to previous drills but it was not required this time.  Muster is on the lifeboat deck and cards are scanned as we enter; the muster was chilly and the sun was getting low at an awkward angle.  Through the afternoon the Centrum, a large open space that runs from deck 4 to the top of the ship was live most of the afternoon with people enjoying the music.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/centrum0.jpg


Sailaway was scheduled for 4PM.  Captain Thodor had indicated a short delay for late arriving passengers but the gangway was closed about 4:15. I had planned to stay on deck until we passed under the Bay (William Preston Lane) bridge but it was too cold to stay outdoors and once the gangway came in I headed up to the Solarium.  

The Solarium is normally an adult venue but with the cold weather and the main pool being
 unviable there were posted hours where children were allowed for the Solarium and pool.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/frigid.jpg


As I arrived CaptainThodor announced there would be a delay for a medical disembarkation.  It was over 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived.  As they left a little after 5 there was a nice long departure blast and we started to move.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/awayatlast.jpg


My initial plan was to stay on deck for the Key and Bay bridges, getting an entree in the WJ and joining my table later in the dining room for coffee and desert.  We were running so late I knew that would be impossible and head down to the dining room at 5:30.  I am at table 314, a 4-top and the others are a solo man and a couple, all from metropolitan Baltimore.  For my first dinner I chose the salad, spaghetti, and a pear cobbler a la mode.  I am not an adventurous diner and food porn really doesn’t work for me but what I will do each day is add a little collage of my dinner dishes.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/dishes1110.jpg


I left the dining room about 7:10 and we were just about to pass under the Bay Bridge.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/baybridge.jpg

 

There was one welcome show at 7:15.  Cruise Director Mike Szwajkowski did some introductions, called some people up (newlyweds, and long term couples) and read off a list of the 25 countries with guests on board (mostly 1 or 2) and then turned the stage over to comedian Steve Thomas.  He was quite good.


http://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/thomas.jpg


I’m more of an early bird than a night owl and didn’t do much after the show, but continued unpacking, organized my photos, and started my post.

My parting shot for today is a wish for the best possible outcome for the party leaving the ship before sailaway.

Roy

 

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My coworkers call this my "Catholic cruise" because of all the Saints.

I'm on board with you, same deck just more forward. I'd forgotten I booked an outside and was shocked when I opened the door.

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Welcome aboard cruisecrazybaltimore.

 

I think a number of followers are planning on this cruise in the upcoming months.  I am posting the menus and compasses to my blog as linked above.

 

A couple of heads up.  I think most succeeding cruises are going to St. Thomas, instead of St. Croix.  Also, your entertainment schedule will likely be quite a bit different from ours.  At the Meet and Mingle CD Mike (he posts on Cruise Critic as DJMike) indicated that a brand new cast of Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers just boarded yesterday.  Most if not all have never performed at sea before and they are in a period of very intensive rehearsals with their first show much later than would normally be expected.

 

Roy

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