Solo cruiser, 50-ish female here. This was my 10th cruise, and my first was as a child, in 1970, so I remember the good old days of cruising.
Let me start by saying that dinner in the Main Dining Room is one of my favorite things about cruising. Sadly, that's where RCI let me down the most. The MDR service/food was bad. We had a table of 10, table #305. Our waiter was Densta a.k.a. Maxwell. Food that was supposed to be hot was often served lukewarm, at best. If we sent it back, the replacement dish was sometimes lukewarm, as well. I suspect some of the food wasn't hot when it left the kitchen, as was the case with mashed potatoes in a ceramic dish. It was assumed by the waiter, head waiter, and even the chef, that if the dish was hot, the food in it was hot. It wasn't until the guest had them actually taste or touch the mashed potatoes that they realized the food was not hot. They should be using food thermometers in the kitchen to make sure they put out hot food!
Another problem was that Densta did not seem up to the task of serving a large table. He seemed scattered and disorganized, and after he brought the food out from the kitchen, he kept lifting the lids from the same dishes multiple times before serving them to the correct guest. This probably contributed to the food losing heat before being served. After we'd complained up the chain about the cold food problems, Densta started putting a dish in front of a guest, then saying, "Try it. Is it hot?" with each dish, with each course, over and over again. If we said it wasn't, he'd say he'd get a replacement, but it would take so long for the replacement to come (and by then we had no faith that it would be any hotter), that often, we didn't want a replacement. If we declined, he'd insist, several times. We had to resort to sternly saying, "I don't want it!" before he would let it go. This exchange became maddening, and we couldn't enjoy our dinnertime conversations without the constant, frustrating interruptions. I know he wanted to make it right, but he took it too far. ONE "are you sure?" would have been enough. We started ordering multiple dishes for each course, hoping at least one of them would be edible, so we wouldn't have to wait for a replacement.
We informed the Maitre D', Santana, of the cold food problem early in the 10-day cruise, but the problem was never solved, and we were not satisfied by the end of the cruise. The waiter blamed the kitchen. The chef blamed the waiter. Food was still being served cold on the last night of the cruise! We were told by Santana that we were sitting too far from the kitchen, and we could move to a closer table. If that was the case, then everyone at the outer edge of the dining room should have been complaining of cold food, too. Maybe they were, and we just didn't know about it. We declined to move, because that suggestion was ridiculous. There was no reason we shouldn't be able to get hot food anywhere in the dining room.
The head chef offered us tickets to a "special" galley tour at 2pm the next day. He suggested we arrive by 1:45 so we could go in first. Well, we found out we weren't special guests, at all. By 1:15, there was a long line of people wrapped around the Centrum area waiting to go on the tour. No thanks. Santana comped us wine with dinner one night, but that didn't make up for the disappointing food and service throughout the cruise.
This was only my second cruise with RCI. Last year, I sailed on the Enchantment, and my food in the MDR was always hot and delicious, and my waitstaff was always courteous and helpful. So this experience on the Grandeur was a huge disappointment.
The food in the Windjammer was always hit-or-miss. I'd just try a little of everything until I found something that was hot, tasted okay, and wasn't dried out/overcooked. I only went there if there were no other options.
On the first day, I inquired at Cafe Lattitudes whether the pastries were complimentary. I was told, erroneously, they they were free with the purchase of a beverage or ice cream. On another day, I had missed breakfast, so I stopped there for a pastry. I asked for an almond croissant. It was cold and hard, right out of the refrigerator. I asked if they could heat it up. They had no way to do so. Who wants cold, hard pastries?? Put a microwave or toaster oven in there!
The best food on the ship, on this cruise, was found in the Park Cafe in the solarium. The roast beef sandwiches at lunch were always wonderful! The bagel bar, salad bar, fruit and chips, as well as desserts, were a welcome alternative, and it was less crowded than the Windjammer. I just wish it was open all day without closures.
I guess the upside of my food experiences on this cruise is that I didn't gain much weight.
Entertainment: This was the best thing RCI did for me on this cruise. I really enjoyed most of the shows. The staff singers and dancers were the best I've seen on a cruise ship. "Tango Argentina" was excellent, and I was impressed that the staff dancers were able to learn their routines during one week and perform so well. The show went on about 20 minutes longer than I felt necessary, but it was good. The acrobatic acts in the Centrum were lovely. The "Two Funny Guys" weren't terribly funny, more like two somewhat humorous guys. A name change would avoid over-hyping their abilities. There was one truly disappointing act, "The Divas of Motown". They really needed to stick to singing the songs the way we remember them, instead of engaging in vocal histrionics as if they're auditioning for a recording contract.
Public spaces: I enjoy playing cards and boardgames, particularly during sea days. On this cruise, I saw that many others also enjoy doing so. But finding space to play, with high enough/large enough tables and good lighting, was very difficult. The solarium was okay, but it got really hot and humid in there. In the Centrum and the Schooner Bar, the tables and lighting were not the greatest. I felt like it was rude to the entertainer and bar staff for us to play in there, but sometimes it was the only alternative. I asked Guest Services about using a conference room, but I was told they were fully booked. I know RCI wants to monetize every inch of the ship, but a gameroom would be nice.
Cheaters at trivia: I love to compete at trivia. IMO, they should be about who "just happens to know" the answers, through their education or life experience. It is such a disappointment that each session is won by someone who is, IMO, cheating. These players are clearly familiar with these questions and answers from prior cruises. They are even sitting there shamelessly writing down the questions and answers for use on future cruises. Do they really think we believe they just happen to know ALL the answers? They don't look smart, they look extremely LAME. That they would cheat others out of the opportunity to honestly win cheap plastic prizes shows how lame they are.
In spite of the problems, I enjoyed myself. I met lots of nice people, and had interesting conversations. I had wonderful tablemates in the MDR (that I met here on Cruise Critic in the roll call!). Several of us played board games and card games daily, and that was a lot of fun. I was able to relax and laugh with them, and without that, this cruise might have been a downer.
Get it together, RCI!!