Boarded at Barcelona without any problem - arrived at terminal around 12 noon and was aboard in under 15 minutes.
Immediately went to see Head Waiter staff in main dining room to confirm our request for a table for 2 at dinner. Despite booking 8 months previously, they had no record of our request and weren't able to find us a table so put us on the wait list. This is now my biggest issue with RCI as it happens on every cruise we take.
As a result, we missed the first 2 nights dining in the main restaurant and made do with Windjammer. On the 3rd day (formal night) we went to see Head Waiter again and were told he had sent a table change to our cabin the day before - we never received anything.
When we did go in for dinner, we found our "table for two" was in fact part of a table for 8, where our section was simply pulled away from the rest leaving a 12inch gap - certainly not a table for two.
Overall, food and service was good throughout the ship - though I did hand back dirty cutlery on 3 occassions. The majority of guests used the hand sanitisers but I did notice it was the japanese/chinese/korean guests who didn't (which surprised me).
We didnt drink much during this cruise. At $8 + 15% Grat + 10% Spanish IVA, it made an oil can of fosters (roughly 1.5 UK pints) come in at $10 or GBP6.30 each. They have introduced the alcohol packages ($55/day for beer/wine/soda) but all persons in cabin must purchase it - my wife had the $7.50/day soda package so that meant I couldn't have the beer deal. So, I just cut down and saved myself some cash that way.
On the issue of Spanish IVA at 10%. RCI decided to change one of our ports of call and we remained in Europe throughout the cruise. That decision meant the 10% IVA Tax was added to all of our beverage purchases (and 20% added to shop goods). I can understand why they changed the port (cancelled Tunisia) but feel they could have given us an extra sea day in a location farther south (ie better weather) and none of us would have had this added tax through all of the cruise.
The new aerial shows were constantly practiced and then performed for the first time during this cruise.
The Centrium location just isn't big enough for this type of show. You really must be seated on decks 4 or 5 (facing stairs) to get the most out of the short 15 minute performances. With 2000+ people aboard, only 200 or so will get to enjoy each performance - the rest (on floors, 6,7,8 etc) just wont get to see much of it, especially if you're not at the front of the crowd. One performance a night just isn't enough.
DO NOT - I REPEAT, DO NOT book a cabin anywhere near the Centrum on this ship. Now that they have made the Centrum area more of an entertainment venue, the noise along cabin corridors near to the Centrum is VERY loud. I know I wouldnt be able to relax/sleep in one of those cabins.
Overall, these were good. The ABBA tribute was better than when we saw them last year. Tne Violin guy was much better than we though he would be and the comedy juggler was excellent (we watched both shows). The Rat Pack act were over-rehearsed to the extent that they were embarassing to watch (and didnt sound that great either).
The two production shows were good but singer volumes need to be increased as hard to hear them above orchestra (especially drums).
We had been to them before so (thankfully) when it rained very heavily in Civi (for Rome) and Naples we stayed on the ship. Thankfully, we hadn't booked any tours thru the ship (too expensive anyway) so didnt get a good soaking each day.
Why do they always overlap activities? There werent that many things going on during this cruise (even the trivia quiz was limited) but they seemed to put the limited items on together.
CRUISE DIRECTOR STAFF
Overall, the Cruise Director staff were excellent - some great characters among them. Sadly, we felt the only one to be lacking was Ken the Cruise Director - by far the worst we've had aboard any RCI sailing.
I know Ive pointed out a few negatives BUT we did enjoy this cruise. We've done Serenade before but have now decided we much prefer the larger Voyager class ships as there is more to do.
The food was mainly good and the service was excellent.
Thankfully, and unlike our experience aboard Adventure back in May, there was no issue with smokers aboard this cruise.