My wife and I have taken 7 previous cruises together, most of the trips with another couple that we have known since college. We have all traveled together worldwide and cruised in both the Caribbean and Europe. Three of us have been to 5 continents and my wife has been to all 7 continents. I say all of this to indicate that we are all open to new experiences, however the Latin influence on this cruise was a little too much.
First the good. The stops on this cruise were excellent. The ABC islands were why we booked this itinerary. We did dive all three islands and were blown away by the coral and sea life. (We didn't book our cruises through RCC, more on that later.) We also REALLY enjoyed Columbia, which was an unexpected bonus.
The staff on the boat was excellent, the bartenders in the champagne bar were really friendly and a pleasure to deal with. The same could be said for the restaurant service, we were very happy with the waiter and assistant waiter.
The ship itself is aging, but in very good shape. We sailed Monarch of The Seas last year for a quick Bahama getaway and found it to be very outdated, but Grandeur wears its age well.
Now for the bad. The gym is slightly undersized for the size of the boat. However, there is at least a running track on deck 10 which allows you to get cardio in without waiting for a machine.
The food in the Windjammer was OK, but nothing to write home about most days. By the fourth day we began to see that the selections were not rotating very much, the menus were quite repetitive. This could be a result of the Latin influence on the cruise, as I have always found that the American tastes tend to be more varied.
The ship did not do a very good job of informing us of what the nightly entertainment would be in the Palladium theater. On most other ships we have always been able to find out easily what is playing that evening.
One other minor issue is that there is not a "quiet" bar on ship. I know I have been spoiled by the "Michael's Club" experience on Celebrity but this is the first ship I have been on where I felt there wasn't that type of space available to sit and have a quiet drink. (Some would argue the Schooner bar, but this was the only place on the ship where the dank stench of cigarettes was omnipresent.)
Now for the UGLY. Most of the ugly was not in the direct control of the cruise line. At some point RCC decided that since this was a cruise populated mostly by people from Central and South America the language of the boat would be Spanish. I have NO PROBLEM with that, however it seem to embolden the Spanish speaking guests to the point that they berated not only ship's staff but also guests that were not fluent in Spanish.
The boat did not offer scuba trips in Aruba or Curacao. The cruise was promoted on the website as being scuba friendly yet no dives were offered in the first two "dive" spots and only an introduction to scuba was offered in Bonaire. To make matters worse they decided to keep the ship on Panama time, not local island time (ABC is Eastern, Panama Central) which meant our arrivals were not at the time originally stated in the cruise documents. This meant that we missed prearranged dives because the boat got in an hour later than stated based on local time.
The "latin adjustment" also meant that the late dinner seating was 9:30. A little too late for most North Americas, but no worry as we could just take the 7:00 seating.
The problem was that the since the dinner was late pre and post dinner music in the cetrum was adjusted for their tastes as well and was played at earsplitting levels until 1:00 in the morning. A normal 8:30 seating would usually mean any entertainment on the boat was closed down by 11. We were on the stern of the ship and could hear the salsa rhythms as though they were in the next room. When I went to complain at the center desk the cruise representative could not hear me 4 feet away and I had to repeat myself 3 times, I think that proves the point.
Related to the music, there was no variety. I have been on many cruises and have found that people could always find a style that suited their tastes. Only 2 nights was the pre dinner music something other than salsa and NEVER was the post dinner music anything but salsa dance music. Even the Viking Crown lounge only had one night with top 40 music.
Embarkation and Disembarkation in Colon was not well organized. There was a general lack of orderly behavior at embarkation. The lines are there for a reason and RCC needs to enforce their use. I know that Latin culture is known to not respect the traditional ques but RCC is a professional organization and should not allow it to become such a mess. People pushing forward in line, agents not helping the next in line first, and people leaving the line and returning expecting to come back to their place is something we shouldn't have to deal with in the Platinum line. I can only imagine what it was like in the other lines.