We celebrated New Year on Royal before and did not like it at all. So before booking this cruise we thought twice, read allot of reviews and decided to give it another chance.
Let me tell you, it was GREAT!
I have 1 thing to complain about- embarkation in Barcelona. There was line of few hundred people and 1 royal rep checking people in. My husband went complaining and finally after over an hour in line more employees showed up and it went somewhat faster.
We boarded in December 24th. Ship was very well decorated. Atrium is pretty small and cozy. Dance floor could have been larger to accommodate all the guests. We got to meet our captain...very impressive as she is the first female captain in the history of cruising. Our families are far away and we don't always get to get together for holidays. But on the ship we felt like we were surrounded by family.
Christmas dinner was great, party was allot of fun. We were caroling with the crew members.
3 different bands were always playing at different ship areas, so we always had a choice of music.
Pianists and guitarist were entertaining at bars.
There was always some activities going on...but we preferred to relax in a Jacuzzi or on the deck by the pool. Unfortunately it was pretty cool some days and unlike Holland American, Royal has no blankets at poolside. It would have been really nice to cuddle up in a blanket and relax on the fresh air.
Food, I have to say that this is the first ship where my husband did not complain about the food! I noticed smaller portions in the main dining room, which is good...for those of us who does not want to over eat. And for those of us who want more, they can always order another dish. Meets were always very tender, in fact I was wondering how they get that roast beef so tender. I can never do it at home. Menu had great variety of appetizers, main dishes and deserts. We even had very small lobster tails on 1 of the formal nights. Looked more like large shrimp than lobster. Buffets were also pretty nice. Good choice of hot dishes, salads and deserts. Food is actually gotten simpler and more homemade, but quality is very good. Breakfast however kills me every time. Everything is too greasy and fatty: bacon, sausages, eggs... french toast tasted like fried bread, waffles was always dried out on edges..oatmeal like glue....and pretty bad coffee. Same thing every day for 2 weeks really gotten to me.
Our waters were very nice and service in the dining room was superb. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants this time...felt there was no need. Head water stopped by our table every evening and we always had nice conversation for few minutes. She always smiled and thanked us for liking the food and service.
Our room attendant, Happy (that is his name), was delightful. We hardly ever saw him, but everything was very clean and tidy in our room. He also managed to give us few special things, which was very nice. Almost every night we had new towel pet waiting for us on our bed. We found out that he used to work on Holland American before, where they make towel pets every night.
On New Year eve there were several parties. Atrium was packed with passengers from top to bottom and we felt we were on Time Square at midnight. Champagne was flowing and Ken, our cruise director lead the countdown. It was so exciting! At midnight hundreds of balloons drooped from the sealing and people popped them all creating the sound of fireworks. For those who wanted to party all night disco and bars were open. We had a blast.
Shows were little boring. Production cast was very good, incredible singers and dancers and it would have been lovely to see something more professional done with that great talent Guest entertainers, however, were pretty bad and theater remained empty for most evenings, sure indicator that it's time to change the acts. I think it would be good to look in to some more interesting choices.
I will not be mentioning port of calls this cruise cause we already visited most of them before and for us it was only to relax and not be alone for the holidays. All thought my husband still managed to find couple of excursions to take. And as always ship offered excursions are overpriced, start way too early, take hours away from sightseeing to go to the pearl, glass, rugs and cameo factories. The only advantage is that they are available at the last minute without advanced planning. We always prefer private tours.
I know I am being super picky, but to sum it up it was great experience overall. I think the rest of the Royal fleet should learn from Serenade and bump up their rating accordingly.
I want to thank everyone on Serenade for a wonderful experience.