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Redneck Review:  Grandeur of the Seas

Independent Cruise Tips for the professional at Leisure

April 2008

 

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 $4.99.

 

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 tasteless gum. 

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 dogs.

 

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.


 

  Reader Comments:

Hey,

 I just read your blog on Grandeur of the Seas... I do agree with you about a lot of those things, however I was just wondering what you thought of the 4 cruise staff onboard that ship... we did our best to make sure that people had fun... any recollections about them? I was one of them during August 2008 and was wondering what u thought of us? Please be honest, I loved your honesty in the article... That was my 6th month of straight work on that ship and I will never go back because I was so exhausted everyday from working with... like you say REDNECKS 22 hours a day!!

 Brandi

 

 

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