I have cruised with Oceana and Carnival in the past, and although I did not expect an "Oceana experience" from RCI, I did anticipate an experience similar to (or better than) Carnival. Unfortunately, RCI underwhelmed at nearly every opportunity.
The food was consistently disappointing, with sub-par meal quality served up in every complimentary eatery. All "steaks" are camouflaged with butter or barbecue sauce to disguise the poor cuts of meat available. Dishes are often misrepresented in the formal dining room menus (i.e., calling shrimp "prawns," calling a few shrimp and a lime wedge with some onions on a bed of iceberg lettuce "ceviche") and the buffet food was inedible across the board. The Park Cafe was serving still-frozen egg paninis at breakfast. The lunch portions in the formal dining room were extremely small and when things ran out on the salad station toward the end of service, they were not replenished. Overall, a very poor dining experience with too many hard sells to upgrade to premium dining -- even while you're actively dining in one of the complimentary restaurants. Seems like there might be a deliberate correlation here.
The biggest problem, however, was the ship itself. Bottom line: The Grandeur of the Seas should be retired well before its scheduled May 2017 dry dock. It's not that it LOOKS bad. The aesthetic updates several years ago did their job. But the ship-wide sanitary system dysfunction is inexcusable and a public health hazard. We had a room on deck 3 that smelled of sewage the entire trip. At times, the entire deck smelled of human waste. It was like sailing on a very large, very expensive floating port-a-potty. We complained several times during the trip about toilets being backed up in public areas, like outside the dining area -- and not just one, but the entire women's restroom. This also occurred on deck 9 near the pool and public dining areas. This is disgusting, and creates a very poor brand experience for first-time cruisers who don't know if this is "typical" (it's not) and for seasoned cruisers who know they should be getting something better for their money.
This is a surprisingly great port! We explored the Inner Harbor on our own. The National Aquarium is pricey, but worth the admission -- what a fantastic experience for kids and adults alike. Also check out the historic ships like the U.S. Constellation for some great photo opportunities. Many lunch options available, including fun touristy stops like Hard Rock and Dick's Last Resort.
Key West never disappoints. We were there on St. Patrick's Day, so it was especially fun! This is a port that you can explore safely and thoroughly enjoy without an excursion. I recommend the "hop on, hop off" trolley ride - it's a great way to get a lot of pictures of key sites on the island and to venture past Duval Street. Lots of great shopping. If you need to grab a bite off the ship, pass by Señor Frogs and Fat Tuesday and forget about Hard Rock. Instead, try "Caroline's." We were very pleasantly surprised by the size, quality and price of our meals, and later learned it's a favorite local spot.