Redneck Review: Grandeur of the Seas
Independent Cruise Tips for the professional at Leisure
When she was built in 1996, the Grandeur of the Seas was the latest and
greatest, the flagship of Royal Caribbean's new line of large cruise ships.
Now, a dozens years later, the Grandeur is a bit worn and tattered around the
edges, and Royal Caribbean has a hard time finding passengers who want to travel
on their older, smaller ships. We sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas on 16
August 2008 to Bermuda.
Exposed wires in passageway
For those who favor a great bargain over good service and food, this is the
cruise for you. Beware, however, that the lowbrow passengers can ruin the
illusions that you are on a middle-class sea cruise. The Grandeur of the
Seas is firmly entrenched as a blue-collar redneck cruise.
The Grandeur of the Seas offers spectacular savings over the latest Royal
Caribbean ships, up to 40% less, a great attraction for blue collar laborers and
those who cannot afford the pricier cruise lines.
Riding on these low-cost cruises is a great way to re-connect with the bottom
10% of your high school graduating class, and these cruises are perfect if you
want to get away and let your hair down.
For more details on how the old scows are being marketed to rednecks and the
blue collar crowd, see our notes for pricing
cruises for rednecks and the working poor,
Dining is very casual on the Grandeur of the Seas. At lunch one day, Janet
and I were treated to a woman picking at a bloody scab from her brand new
shoulder tattoo while their kids ran from table-to- table, screaming and playing
grab-ass. Thankfully, the
dining tables are round, so that passengers who chew with their mouths open were
not able to toss food particles all the way across the tables, and they landed
harmlessly in the bread baskets.
The passengers ranged from Blue collar workers, retired professionals, lots of
young people with kids and a surprising number of people who were living off of
their disability checks.
We met a custodial engineer (a janitor), a cab driver, a fellow on parole
(judging from his prison tattoo's), and numerous and sundry people on the dole,
including a half dozen sea cows, morbidly obese women who has eaten themselves
into a wheelchair in order to get their Social Security Disability checks.
There were also some folks from West Virginia on their honeymoon.
The main purpose of this review is to let everyone know that not all Royal
Caribbean cruises are created equal, and the low-cost ships like the Grandeur of
the Seas will not have the same level of food and service as the Freedom and
Genesis class ships.
||The ship itself was worn and frayed around the edges, exposed wiring in the
halls, rusty hinges on the promenade deck, and delaminated mirrors everywhere.
Judging from the slipshod level of repair and maintenance, the Grandeur is
seaworthy, but they are not investing it keeping it up to her original glory, so
it would not surprise me if the Grandeur of the Seas is not sold to some
third-world cruise like like Costa in a few years.
Leave your expectations at the door
To enjoy these lower-class cruises, forget everything you know about cruising,
the redneck cruises are in a league of their own.
The Grandeur of the Seas is an even better bargain because it's located at
Norfolk Virginia, making it a one-day pickup truck drive from West Virginia.
Upon arrival at the parking lots, we were greeted by a phalanx of fat women
sporting shiny gold teeth, barking orders at us like Marine drill sergeants.
As frequent Royal Caribbean customers, we were surprised at the noticeable
decline in staff quality, with cabin stewards who could not even speak
rudimentary English. Janet asked for an extra pillow, and our steward
disappeared for several minutes (ostensibly to ask what the word "pillow"
meant), and returned, telling us to call a number. She called and
requested an extra pillow, promised one, but it was never delivered.
After observing the staff in action, we strongly suspect that the Grandeur of
the Seas in an on the job training OJT for the larger Royal Caribbean ships.
Grandeur of the Seas Dining Tips
We are not fussy eaters (we love
redneck chow), but
the food on the Grandeur of the Seas was simply horrid by any human standard.
I must say that the average Army mess hall has better fare, and the food on the
Grandeur reminded me of school cafeteria food. It's about on par with
Country Kitchen Buffet or Waffle House. Even the Pizza was nasty, even
worse than that cheap crap pizza Little Caesars where you get a whole pizza for
||The formal night on the grandeur of the Seas is a joke, like an 8
year-old girl playing dress-up with fake food and phony pretense.
Crawdad tails masquerade as lobster, and tiny slabs of inedible wafer
steak pretend to be filet Mignon. Formal night is a good night to
order room service (they will deliver menu items to your room).
We ordered room service twice, and even after making them repeat our
order they still managed to get it wrong every time. We have never
had this happen on the more expensive Royal Caribbean cruises,
reinforcing our suspicion that the Grandeur of the Seas is a training
ship for the larger, more luxurious ships.
Entertainment on the Grandeur of the Seas
For after-dining entertainment on formal night, take a seat in the lounge by the
restaurant entrance ahead of the 8:30 formal seating, order a drink and have
your camera ready. Watching lower income people dress-up in formal attire
is hugely entertaining, and you can make bets on when you will see the first
lime green tuxedo or formal dress baseball cap.
For other on board entertainment, take a seat by the pursers desk on the last
day at sea, when the cruise issues demands for payment of the passengers bar
tabs. It's great fun listening to the shouting, threats and excuses from
passengers whose bar tabs exceeded the cost of their cruise ticket. (BTW,
with the average cost of a drink at $6, it's not hard to do).
||The food quality was good, it was just ruined by truly awful
preparation. Their chefs were able to take rib eye wafer steaks
and make them taste like shoe leather, and they are able to take
perfectly good hamburger meat and poach it into amorphous grey blobs of
If we ever sail on the low-cost cruises again, we are going to bring
our own food, but sadly, the Grandeur of the Seas does not allow you to
use Sterno to cook in your cabin. We survived on bananas and hot
This is not meant to be a blanket condemnation of the Grandeur of the Seas.
As we noted, it's an exceptional value for the price, the ship is clean and
safe, and they have fresh fruit and decent bread, so that you won't starve.
On another positive note, Bermuda was a great port, safe, beautiful and
friendly. See our related notes on Bermuda tour
tips and Golf Tips for the
Bermuda Southampton course.
After disembarking from the Grandeur of the Seas, we made a beeline for Hardees
to get some fancy food, and after five days of the Grandeur's inedible crap, it tasted like
heaven. I suspect that if the Grandeur of the Seas opened a McDonald's
aboard, the dining halls would be empty.