When Palm Beach Cruise Line announced that they were bringing in another ship to make the two-night cruises to Freeport, they offered a Buy One Get One Free deal. Book a cruise on one of the ships and get a free cruise (pay port taxes and gratuities) on the other ship.
We were married in August 1968 and had taken our honeymoon in Freeport. We decided to go back to Freeport to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Then the second cruise to celebrate a birthday. We booked the "new" ship, the Grand Classica for the anniversary celebration.
See links at bottom for photos,
Our son had us park our car at their home and he took us to the port so we could avoid the $19.00 per day valet parking charge. He dropped us off and we took our bags inside to the baggage check area. Our bags were tagged with our name and room number and we proceeded upstairs through security to check-in.
I had downloaded the form to set up an account for on-board charges and had it all filled out. I noticed that it had the name of the other ship, Grand Celebration, so I crossed it out and wrote in Classica. However, that was not acceptable. We were given a new form for the Classica and had to copy all the information from my filled-in form to the new form. It seemed line an unnecessary operation, but at least I had all the information and just needed to copy it. We got in line for check-in. This was one of the few lines we experienced all cruise. After a few minutes, we reached the agent. Our form was collected, passports checked, and photos taken. We received our boarding card/charge card/room key card and proceeded to the vessel. We skipped the photographers and stopped to order the soda package ($21 each, included a souvenir cup). At that point, we noticed that my wife's boarding card misspelled her last name. We went back and had a new card issued (did not need to stand in line again). We intended to have dinner in The Yellow Elder dining room (included in cruise fare). It has open seating from 6:00 to 8:00 and we did not need to make reservations. We then went to the gangway and boarded the ship. Because we were carrying the soda package cups, we were able to avoid the crew trying to sell beverage packages.
We boarded the ship on deck 5 and went to the buffet on deck 9. The food serving stations had sections to the left and right and the same food was served in both sections. There was a station for salads. Another station had bread, meat, vegetables, and side dishes. Further along on the side of the ship were the desserts, juices, coffee, tea, water, and ice cream. Continuing out the back of the buffet, there was the Rock Grill with hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, buns, and fries. There was no problem finding seating. The food was good. I was coming down with a cold, so my taste buds were probably a little off.
After lunch, we proceeded down to deck 4 to find our room. Although it was not yet 3:00, the room was ready and the second suitcase was being delivered. We took the bags in the room and started unpacking.
The room was roomy. It had a king size bed that could be split into 2 kings. It appeared that there were two fold-down beds on the far wall. When the fold-down beds were up, there was plenty of space at the side of the bed. There was plenty of storage space. The closet had room for hanging clothes and 4 drawers. There were 4 additional drawers outside the closed along with two storage areas. One with a door, the other without a door. Next to the drawers was the television and below that a refrigerator. We did not use the refrigerator, so we don't know how cold it was.
We then explored the ship until the muster drill. The drill took place at 5:00 and there were 3 muster locations - forward, midship, and aft - corresponding to cabin location. The forward muster location was in the Legends Grand Theater. We had the standard safety briefing and life demonstration - in 2 languages. Guests continued to come in and talk during the presentations. They will be the people who, in an emergency, will have no idea where to go or what to do.
Cast off and sail-away took place at 5:30.
Our experience on larger cruises was that people line up at the dining room waiting for it to open. Since The Yellow Elder has open seating, we decided to wait a while before going down. We did not need to wait. The dining room was mostly empty, maybe about 85% empty. We had no problem getting a table.
The menu had limited entree selections but covers major categories. Additional items are available at additional charge. The menus are available on Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's web page. I had the mustard rubbed petite been tender. It looked quite good. My taste buds were a bit off due to a cold, but the dinner tasted very good anyway.
After dinner, we returned to the cabin to finish unpacking and wait until showtime.
The shows are presented in the Legends Grand Theater. There is plenty of comfortable seating. The theater was not full.
The theater does not have the large spaces and set pieces that are available on the large ships. The effects consisted of projections on a screen at the back of the stage, lighting, and some fog effects.
The show consisted of a comedian with a family friendly presentation and a revue with singers, dancers, and a magician. There were 4 lead singers (2 men, 2 women), 6 dancers (3 men, 3 women). The magician's performances were woven into the show. The revue lasted about 30-35 minutes and included pretty intensive dancing and costume changes.
Because of the cold coming on, I decided to stay for just the comedian and some of the revue. However, it kept my interest and I stayed for the entire performance.
After the show, we returned to the cabin and got ready for bed. The cabin attendant had closed the bathroom door and I could not get it open. I wondered if he had locked it. Finally, I realized that the door slid to the right, it did not open on a hinge. We found only one 110 volt receptacle for a USA plug. It was located near the floor to the right of the bed. There was an additional plug near the vanity desk, but it was 220 volts and had an European type receptacle.
We slept well.
We went to the buffet for breakfast and there was a good variety. There were fruit, cereal, bread, rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, french toast, waffles juices, coffee, tea, and water. There was butter, but we did not find syrup. I didn't ask. The Rock Grill was open and making omlettes. I enjoyed breakfast.
I just had fruit and apple juice on my first pass. I left about half the fruit and folded my napkin and placed the silverware on top while I went for more food. When I got back, the plate, glass, napkin, and silverware were gone. Sometimes, they are a little too efficient.
We shared a taxi and went to the Port Lucaya shopping area. We walked over to the old Holiday Inn hotel where we had spent our honeymoon 50 years earlier. We weathered the 50 years better than the hotel. The hotel was closed due to hurricane damage and we were not allowed to go close.
We took the taxi back to the ship. When we arrived, the Carnival Elation was also in port. The shops in the Carnival port area were open. But to get between the Carnival port shops and the Grand Classica, it was necessary to walk around the port parking area. Not terribly long.
We had lunch at the Rock Grill and then went to the cabin for a nap. When we got up, we could see that it had rained.
We got ready for dinner and pictures. Since it was our 50th anniversary, we took several pictures at 2 locations. Again, there was no line for dinner and the dining room was about as empty as the night before. I had the grilled top serloin steak (without the Chimichurri sauce). I have had better, but it was good and I enjoyed it.
We went back to the cabin to wait for the show. The show consisted of the comedian with another family friendly routine and another production show by the singers, dancers, and magician. We chose 3 pictures from the photo shoots. They print all pictures. What a waste. Then back to the cabin to pack and get ready for debarking in the morning.
I set an alarm for 3:25 to go up on deck and watch for the Perseids meteors and a rocket launch scheduled for 3:48 from Port Canaveral. I did not see any meteors and it turned out that the rocket launch was scrubbed with less than 2 minutes before launch. I went back to bed around 4:00.
After breakfast, we went back to the cabin for luggage and a last minute check for anything left. We then went to deck 5 to exit ship. Only a few people in line before us.
In the terminal there were lines for customs. One for US citizens, one for non-US citizens, and one for Global Pass, handicapped, and crew. We have Global Pass, but the Port of Palm Beach does not have the Global Pass kiosks. I did not think the Global Pass would benefit us. However, we did get to go to the shorter (no line) line and got through customs and immigration quickly.
Our son was waiting for us outside the port. We sent him a text message that we were out and he showed up in just a couple of minutes.
Back to his house to pick up our car and drive home.
We are looking forward to the next trip on the Grand Classica in a few weeks. We probably will not go back to Lucaya on that trip.
These ships are a nice alternative for quick get-aways, even if you stay on the ship. I hope Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is successful.
The singers and dancers do an outstanding job with that they have. No large stage, no large set pieces, just projections, lights, and fog effects. High energy dancing for about 30 minutes. On the large ships, the dancers and singers usually have two, maybe three, shows in 7 nights. The singers and dancers on the Grand Classica, they have a show each night, then do it again on the next sailing. They perform every night for 6 months. I am impressed.
We did not have internet access from the time we were out of range from Florida on day 1 until we were back in port on Day 3. We have T-Mobile and expected service in Freeport. But all our devices indicted No Service. I will be contacting T-Mobile in the morning.
Only 1 110 volt USA receptacle in cabin. Consider taking a plug strip. But make sure it is in perfect condition and unplug it whenever you are not in the cabin. Consider taking charged power banks for charging cell phones and tablets.
Take syrup if you want any at breakfast.
Be prepared for lots of solicitations for drink packages, dining packages, photos, bingo, adult comedy show, etc.
If considering renting a car or scooter, remember that cars are driven on the left side of the street. Also, when crossing a street be aware that traffic is coming from the right, not the left.