My wife and I recently took a 7 night cruise on Grandeur of the Seas leaving from Colon, Panama. We are American, have no children, are 28 and 30 years old, and had taken one cruise together previously (it was with Norwegian). We did research before the trip and were aware that this cruise was likely to be some type of Spanish language "immersion" cruise. Notification of this fact from the cruise line came only 10 days before booking, but we weren't surprised. I speak a little Spanish and was okay with whatever level of immersion there was.
Since this "immersion" aspect seems to be an area I am frequently asked about, I'll start there before reviewing the cruise in general. The first choice language of the ship was certainly Spanish on this trip. By that I mean that when you were greeted in the halls or called room service they were more likely start off in Spanish than English. That being said, every staff member spoke English fluently and almost all of them spoke it as well or better than they spoke Spanish. On the game shows, production shows, and pool activities, both languages were typically used, but the English translations were typically short and without the nuance of what was going on in Spanish. Especially during events like the Love and Marriage gameshow where Spanish-speaking guests interacted for long periods with a Spanish-speaking host for several minutes before the host tried to translate the whole exchange into a sentence or two.
I found the immersion experience to not be much of an issue for us. It was reasonable to us for the default language to be Spanish since probably 80% of the passengers hailed from Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Argentina. We limited ourselves to shows where the language barrier wouldn't be much of an issue, and enjoyed ourselves even when we didn't know exactly what was going on around us.
However, this immersion experience was not for everyone. We talked to several American passengers who were furious about the fact that the cruise was in Spanish and complained every chance they got about it. I can see how if someone's major source of enjoyment on a cruise is going to the shows, easily interacting with other English-speaking guests, or being able to see foreign ports without ever having to be spoken to in the foreign language that this cruise might not be for you. I highly recommend it though for someone that looks to at least experience a little bit of the language and culture when they travel.
Now back to the other aspects of the cruise. We had family in Panama, so we didn't have a hotel or need to arrange transport to the pier so we had no problems with that. Embarkation and debarkation both went smoothly and more quickly that our previous cruising experiences. The stateroom was much larger than we had on our previous Norwegian cruise, and the attendant did a good job getting into it often without interrupting any of our plans. There were none of the plumbing issues that I have heard complained about on the Grandeur. I was specifically looking for sewage smells in the bathroom and Centrum, and never noticed any.
For dining, we went to the main dining room for all dinners. The food was good and the waitstaff was very attentive. Most of our breakfasts were in the Windjammer and the food there had good variety as well. Other cruisers were rude there, but we expected this since somehow people of all ages, nations and races are transformed into savages at buffets. The activities and entertainment were fine, although we only went to a few because of the language issue. The aerial show in the Atrium was particularly unique and the party-type events had much more energy than typically found on US cruises. I am doing port reviews separately, but we enjoyed all of them including several RCI arranged excursions.
Overall, we had a fantastic time and felt like all of the staff did a great job adapting to the bilingual operation. I recommend this cruise enthusiastically, but only to cruisers that are willing to go with the flow in a foreign country rather than expecting the world to revolve around the English language.