We were amazed how far RCCL has let the variety and quality of their food in the main dining room fall. We had the same disappointing experience on the Explorer in Sep 2013. Hamburgers were like hockey pucks -- totally unappealing and tasteless. French fries were those powdered ones (formed in a machine from powder then fried to keep them together -- you can tell when you break one open and you can see the tiny air pockets in the potato inside. Scrambled eggs on the buffet were powdered eggs (you could see the water separating from the eggs in the pan). Steaks for the most part were tough and chewy (steak diane on the first night was almost inedible -- couldn't cut it, couldn't chew it). Chicken, chicken, chicken, way too much chicken, most if it fried, almost all of it tasteless. Salad bar at lunch was very good. Breakfast egg station had egg beaters and egg whites, but the health of it was questionable after they put several ounces of oil in the pan before they poured in the egg mixture (ever heard of Pam?). Bacon over or under fried (sometimes on the same strip). Only 2 what I would call desserts that we never eat at home -- bananas foster (the worst I have had on RCCL, at least on Explorer we had a very good cherries jubilee). Most unusual baked Alaska (served in individual dishes with way too much merengue, no cake, no fanfare, nothing, same as on the Explorer. Coffee was very good -- and strong. Overall when I compare the food we had on Explorer last year and Legend this year to the food we had on Grandeur in 2003, I see a corporate wide trend towards what I would call diner fare compared to what used to be what I would call banquet fare (what you find at a nice wedding reception).
I can't say enough about the staff and crew -- service was excellent. Unfortunately, the chefs have to deal with what corporate lets them have for a food budget and there is nothing they can do, so you can't complain, just grin and bear it. The ship was recently renovated and is very nice -- new carpets throughout, more cabins (more revenue). Entertainment was a bit less glamorous that what we were used to on our prior RCCL sailings (Nordic Prince, Song of America, Grandeur, Adventure. Adventure in 2012 had acceptable food, but we noticed even there that there was a drop off from what we had on the Grandeur.
I realize that the price paid for a cruise today is much less (in constant dollars) than the price paid 15-20-25 years ago for the same accomodations on the same line, and that said, something had to give because economy of scale alone isn't enough to keep pace with inflation, the cost of food, and particularly the cost of fuel. I believe the huge ships have forced cruise lines to lower their prices to keep all those beds filled. We talked to many Floridians (about half the passengers on the ship) and many of them said they get great deals in the last 60 days before a sailing. Knowing that, it would seem that cruise lines have expanded way too much to expect that many more passengers to pay the prices they used to get when they were less than one-fourth the size they are now. So it is what it is and the fall off in food is an inevitable outcome from the humongous expansion of cruise lines. Of course, in the same token the clientele has dropped off too. In the old days, a jacket and tie was required every night at dinner and shorts were not allowed in the dining room even for the sit down breakfasts and lunches. Today the world is more casual, but I have seen way too many passengers who take casual to the extreme, with sneaks and shorts at dinner allowed. Alas, the petals have fallen off the rose for all cruise lines, not just RCCL.. .