Serenade of the Seas, has been very successful with its refurbishing and new offers on board.
The ship came right from dry dock when we went on board in Barcelona, Monday, Dec. 10.
The first thing we saw was that the whole atrium area was redone and modernized. Trapeze equipment hung on the ceiling, and there was a new and colorful lightshow. Unfortunately, we did not see the trapeze show during our cruise.
Our balcony cabin looked lighter and roomier, and new inter-active LED-tv in all the staterooms have been installed. Wifi was also available in the staterooms and throughout the ship.
5 new dining venues have been included, and we were able to try 3 of them -- the family-style Italian trattoria, Giovanni's; Park Cafe, and the wonderful Chefs Table.
Giovanni's Table was a very nice and flavorful experience. We had been advised to try lunch, and we don't regret it at all. It cost $10 extra. For your money, you get a 4 course menu, but our very nice and lively waiter extended it to 6 courses, plus we tasted 4 different and delicious desserts from their dessert wagon.
The Giovanni's concept is an informal family trattoria from the Italian countryside, where "mama" makes her home specialties, plus antipasta, pasta and seafood. The food was served in the middle of the table, and everyone could eat and taste to their hearts desire.
Even as the sea pitched and swayed outside, we were accorded the family's hospitality, food from the farmers market and days catch.
An outstanding experience, and well worth the money.
Ritas Cantina, as the name indicates, is Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired.
We did not have the time to try this restaurant on our short 5D/4N cruise.
The same with the new Japanese sushi and asian-inspired restaurnat,
Chef's table was a gastronomic experience, for the eyes, nose and taste. 5 courses (which became 9) from different culinary worlds, with wine (and sake) pairing. The sous chef stood by the end of the table and explained each of the courses -- the inspiration behind them and how they were made.
The sommelier presented the wine (and sake) that matched each dish, and gave us an idea of why exactly this particular wine was chosen, and the wines characteristic.
Both sommelier's and the chef's presentation and mini-"lectures" were very interesting and informative.
It was not just an exclusive dinner, but a 3 hour gastronomic venture in taste, knowledge, fine wine, and beautiful food presentation. $99 was the price for this experience. I will assume that the good wines, champagne, sake and dessert sauterne cost the most.
Foodies and wine lovers, this is for you.
Honeymooners, special occasion celebrants, and epicureans, don't miss this opportunity.
Windjammer buffet restaurant is very popular. So popular that, at times, it can be very crowded, and difficult to find a table. On a positive note, its popularity is well a sign that people like it there and that the food is good.
Chops Grill is normally good, but this time, it was better than usual.
A real "meat lovers delight". The food, athmosphere and overall quality was worth the $30 extra.
The Dining Room has doubled its capacity for "My Time Dining", which now includes the whole upper floor of the Reflection Dining Room. This just goes to show that the concept if very popular. As suggested, it pays to book in advance, so as to save time lining up for a table, which could be irritating to some. The food and presentation are good, but we frequent cruisers are ready for a menu change. However, we can understand, logistics- and economy-wise, that all the ships have the same menu and continues for a period of time. Which is also why the new specialty restuarants are a welcome treat for us.
Park Cafe is as we remember from Oasis, except that it is located in the Solarium on Serenade. They have a fresh salad section, og another for snacks and sandwiches, and the best roast beef sandwich. Try it!
As Diamond+ members, we were pleasantly surprised by the 2 inviting and well appointed lounges on the top deck. Both are "key" clubs.
The Concierge Club is for Concierge class guests, Pinnacle and Diamond+ members. It sits about 70 and 35 out on deck. It has its own bar, special coffee maker, and snack and canapes are always available. Most of all, the lounge is looked after by a very nice and capable concierge.
We think that the Diamond Club lounge has an even better location, being a part of the Viking Crown Lounge. It is a bit smaller, but with the same special coffeemaker, snacks and drinks. The atmosphere is very convivial, and the hostess was very friendly and hospitable.
Serenade has undergone a lot of changes and upgrades which makes it very pleasant to be on board. We're not naming all, so you would get some surprise when you see it yourself.
The only negative thing about our cruise was that we could have been there longer, as we enjoyed it very much.
Will upload photos of food and new interior.
Happy New Year from Norway
Morton Salt + Pepper