We flew to palma, Majorca to join RCI'S Grandeur of the Seas, which was starting its summer Med season, having just sailed across the Atlantic.
Arriving in Palma airport our first problem was waiting for our luggage for an hour and a half, along with the rest of the other pax embarking that day.
Having finally collected our luggage we set off to find our coach transfer to the ship. We quickly realised that a very large queue was forming near us from all the people that had been on the same flight. This queue was massive, all waiting for the transfer to the ship, we waited another hour and 15 mins to finally get on a bus, not good so far I was thinking to myself and not a very good first impression to our friends who were embarking on their first cruise.
Anyway a quick 20 minute transfer to the ship and the check in shed, our luggage was taken off the coach and onto the ship by RCI staff. There were about twelve desks open to those of us that had bothered to check in online and another six that checked in people that didn't do it online. I thought that we would fly through, no such luck!!! The majorcan staff manning the desks were all brand new and hardly knew what they were doing, so it took another hour to get to check in!!! Best of all the other queue of pax that hadn't checked in online were flying through!!
Finally, we embarked and were told that our cabin(stateroom) was ready for occupation, which was great!! Off we went to our cabins.
Arrived in the cabin to find the wrong bed configuration and the champaqgne and flowers I had ordered weren't there either. I immediately spoke to the deck supervisor, who happened to be passing, he assured me all would be put right ASAP, so off we went to the restaurant to find our table and then get some lunch.
On our arrival in the Restaurant we found that we (our two friends and my friend whom I had made the booking for as a group)were on different tables miles apart. The Maitre'd was not yet present, so I assured my friends that I would come down and sort it all out later!!!
Off we went for lunch in the Windjammer, straight away I thought the food was very good and you could have orange juice, lemonade or water by the glass free of charge with your meal. We bagged a table by the pool and ate our lunch in glorious sunshine. After the journey and all the trials so far, it was nice to relax for a while. We even grabbed a couple of beers before I set off to try and sort out the bed and dining situation.
I first went down to the cabin to find nothing had changed in that department, eventhough it was now 3 hours later and the cabin steward was nowhere to be seen, so I decided to go to the restaurant.
On entering the Atrium I heard alot of people chatting and standing in line, this was ominous, I thought, and my assumptions were correct! All these people( about 100) were all waiting to see the Maitre'd, who was all alone in dealing with all these people!!! I had had my fill of queueing by then and returned to friends and told them that we would try and sort it out when we went up for dinner!
We were on second seating and so at around 7pm we went down to get changed and showered for dinner. Our cabin still hadn't been sorted but at least our baggage had arrived.
We went for dinner and our friends sat on their allocated table and us on ours. We had great table companions on ours, but we had two seats empty, so when we left the restaurant we asked if our friends could join us, fortunately, the couple allocated to our table had changed to "My Time" dining, so our friends joined us for the rest of the cruise. Returning to our cabin later that evening the beds were correct, the flowers had arrived, but the champagne had not, nor was it going to for the rest of the cruise, but I had given up in the end!!
So all in all a pretty awful embarkation and not a very good start onboard!!!
We inadvertantly found out about the drinks packages on offer, so we all signed up for the "classic" package, which we thought was great value, until you add on the 15% service charge and the Spanish VAT 8%, so we paid $313.00 for the week. The bar service was at times very good, but at other times very bad. I also found some of the bar staff to be very arrogant. You could buy a drink in one bar and then move on to another bar and they wouldn't have the same drink? If you said " well, I just had one of those in the bar next door" they would shrug their shoulders and just stand there!! There is no "going the extra mile"!!! Special mentions to Mr C, Jez, Augustus and Rahul who were fantastic! Also no Sangria served in the bars on an all Spanish itinery cruise???
As I have said, we had great table companions and were most certainly the noisiest table in our section. The food was very good and our waiters Ligorio and Rahul were superb, nothing was too much trouble for those guys. The head waiter was a rather creepy guy and did nothing to enhance our experience to my mind, so I didn't tip him at the end! The Windjammer food was ok, but nothing special and quite repetitive, it is also not very well laid out. It proved to be difficult to negotiate for people with walking difficulties I noticed. On several occasions I found myself moving chairs for them.
The reception staff were a complete nightmare. On girl in particular was rude and just mumbled into her computer and her English was not very good. Basically, I dont think they know what they are doing, with dollars, pounds and euros to contend with, they just lost the plot! They got my bill totally wrong, which meant a drawn out conversation to settle my bill. I had nipped down to pay off my bill in small chunks each day with dollars, but none of this was on my final bill! Its a good job I had kept the receipts issued to me each time otherwise I would have been buggered, even after all that, the receptionist didn't apologise!!! Must have been my fault then for paying my bill on time and in dollars!!!
The Entertainment was non existent! The Ents staff are all foreign and very hard to understand. Their sense of humour is difficult to grasp aswell and could be(and will be) mistaken for being rude! There is one English guy on the team and he was extremely arrogant. The entertainment is that the passengers are the entertainment!!! Too many guest paticipation events which quickly become tiresome. Karaoke every night with a list of songs you could sing that was years out of date! The comedian(british) was very sexist and came out with all the old cruise jokes! The two shows were the worst I have ever seen at sea, terrible singers and badly choreographed. The deck band "Bambleo" sang the same seven songs during every set, all Latin music aswell, which the Ents staff liked, but none of the passengers could relate to! We knew all the songs by the end and in what order they came in!!!
The ship is very nice although somewhat past her best! Very much like P&O's Oceana with regards to decor and layout. The inside cabin(1st time) was a great size and very clean, the beds were lovely. No tea and coffee making facilities, which I really missed.
Didn't speak to one of the ships officers and found them to be very aloof and up their own backsides, they just failed to mix with the passengers and didn't even acknowledge you, very bad!
The passengers were a great mix, for some reason there were hordes of Irish onboard, which made a great laugh. We met some lovely people.
Overall, I think RCI need to up their game if they want to keep the Brits happy this summer in the Med and most certainly sort out their nightmare embarkation process! This was my first with RCI and I am sorry to say, if this is what you have to offer me, then I wont be back!!!