The Continental hotel on Las Ramblas was clean and very early European. The much advertised free buffet was very disappointing and we avoided it. 6/10 for the view and location.
Embarkation on the Serenade was very smooth, however we were greeted, not by a welcoming party but a lady shooing us into a line of "my time diners" insisting we should immediately book our dinner for that night!! Not "welcome aboard, here is a glass of champagne, and have a lovely trip with us". Not welcome aboard, lunch is being served and your cabins will be ready at whatever time". After booking for what we understood was my time, my choice dining, we were met by another employee selling special offers!!!!We felt at a disadvantage and unsure where to go or what to do next.
Our cabin was a highlight of the trip and we received the usual high standards we are accustomed to on a cruise.
The dining room was very nice and the crew were attentive, the menu was disappointing as there were only 3 courses, not much choice and at our first meal we were offered steak at an extra cost!!. Another diner was demanding and the staff were very patient.
Deciding immediately to stick with the buffet restaurant we headed there for lunch the next day. The experience was better as we could choose from a wider range of food, the staff here were exactly as expected, smiling, welcoming and always available to offer help. We continued to eat there every day for every meal.
The food was just average and we were not impressed as on previous cruises on Cunard and Princess or Celebrity.
The Park restaurant was small with limited range of food and hit and miss opening hours for the salad area. This is not a substitute for midnight buffets on the Cunard line.
Mizumi the Japanese restaurant at extra cost was not worth the extra charges, although very busy.
We really enjoyed the outdoor cinema, although we only watched it in passing due to the weather.
The customer services: First encounter was to find out how I could receive my free glasses for the cocktails I had purchased, they said the bar were out of glasses and they would send them to our room. They did not come until I requested for a third time and we were on our last day.
Second encounter was I called and asked for information, but when I was not clear with the answer I went to the desk and requested further information, expecting a patient reply I was surprised at the Gentleman's exasperated outburst that he had already spoken to me on the phone. Neither problems were huge but I dread to think how they would have handled a bigger issue.
The ports were great and we made our own excursions for the first time on a cruise. WE seriously encourage people to research and try this alternative as it is much cheaper and not so daunting as you may think. Hop on hop off busses are truly fantastic for getting a feel of an area and you can get off at any place of interest or stay on and see the whole route all together.
The little extra charges were very annoying, charge for delivering food to the room, charge for movies on TV, etc.,
The departure was very smooth.
Overall the cruise was acceptable and a fair example of cruising.