Having never been to Europe the Serenade intinerary was ideal in timing and ports of call and balance of at sea days.
We flew Air Transat from Toronto with on time landing in Barcelona. We had arranged transfer to Barcelona Universal Hotel with Transfersfrombarcelona.com - Sebastian met us with a luxury Mercedes van. Hotel proved to be ideal location and ammentities for our 3 night pre-cruise stay.
Used same company for transfer to Serenade on May 29. Embarkation went quite smoothly. Rooms ready at 1pm with baggage arriving by mid afternoon. Our steward Stephen was competent and available. Our D2 cabin was decent overall but beds and bedding should be updated.
Nice size ship and well cared for, but obviously in need of upcoming refurb. Aware of some plumbing issues, worn carpet old TV's etc.
We were overall pleased with food service and quality particularly dinner in main DR with Peter and Zoran serving us. One concern for our My time dining was that advance reservations are required in order to secure a decent time. Hostess Stephanie helped us secure mostly 7:15 with desired wait team and table.
Windjammer food quality and selection was reasonably good for that venue.
Our party was not overly impressed with breakfast in main DR.
Captain Karin - the only female captain in the industry - provided daily informative updates.
We were all impressed with warm friendly service and response from all staff on board. This Med cruise was the smoothest of our 9 cruises. One disappointment for a 12 day was the entertainment overall. One rock & roll band was barely fair at best. No comedians. An Abba tribute band was the highlight and an opera singer from US was talented but not our style. The Latin house band and Carib type deck band were good and versatile. A DJ with good sound system in Centrum was quite enjoyable. RCL is capable of much better entertainment.
Another concern would the costs on board - especially evident with drinks, spa and photos. The C&A Gold Book contained little useful reward.
Ports of Call the highlight.
Cannes - for this tender port we opted for the RCL tour to Monaco and Monte Carlo. Very worthwhile visit of France south coast.
Livorno, Civitavecchia and Salerno - we chose RomeInLimo.com and glad we did. Very personable, informative and friendly, skilled drivers surely maximized our daily treks compared to RCL massive bus tours. We also prebooked RIL guide for the Vatican - a must in order to complete tour in 2.5 hours.
In Piraeus (Athens) we chose PrivateGreeceTours.com for an outstanding day that took in the history of Athens in the AM and off to Cape Sounion and scenic coast in the PM. All our tours used luxury AC Mercedes cars or vans.
In Kusasdasi Turkey we chose ephesusdeluxe.com - again for a very fulfilling day with another knowledgeable and friendly guide. In all ports we had traditional lunches recommended by our drivers that were memorable experiences.
For Santorini Island we chose the RCL bus tour for this tender port. This was an ideal 1/2 day tour that covered the whole island with time for shopping at the end.
Our planning and tour selection enabled us to maximize our sightseeing in every port. Weather and crowds were ideal at this May/June time.
Disembarkation was well planned despite a luggage bottleneck in the terminal. Again our transfer to Barcelona Airport with Sebastian with TFB. Airport was very warm so dress appropriately.
Overall the wonderful experience and intinerary to visit the Mediterranean overshadowed any concern regarding the Serenade.