Just back from a 7 day cruise from Dubai on the Serenade of the seas. Starting with embarkation: Very chaotic, we had an overnight flight and was taken to the Hyatt hotel for breakfast and booking in process, but they had run out of sea pass cards, so we had, with others a piece of paper giving our cabin Numbers etc. But they didn't tell the security so we couldn't get on the ship until we made quite a fuss, also getting picked up from the hotel was like a mad scramble to get on the buses.(suggestion get a taxi from airport straight to ship) no hassles I gather. Once aboard very impressed with the decor which is very elegant and comfortable. Cabin was excellent, we were on 4th deck with large window, lots of storage space and cabin steward was really good. I gather the lower decks with small portholes not as good as very low down, limited view, but most people thought cabins were very comfortable and large enough, balconies were recommeded as good for getting away from the crowds.
Food - was good but a bit disappointed as not to 5* quality, I gather from regular R.C travellers food is not as good as in the past. But saying that we enjoyed both the Windjammer buffet for lunch and the set evening dining. If you are willing to pay extra there is more options in the speciallity restuarnts. We also enjoyed the Park cafe in the solarium which is very chilled and good for a light lunch or breakfast. The solarium is a little haven of peace and quiet, no children allowed... However, we thought the cost of alcohol was extortionate especially wine, cheapest bottles cost average 40 dollars without the added tax, approx Â£35 + so we like so many people didn't buy too many bottles and made the wine last for a couple of nights which I felt spoilt the whole experience of eating good food and drinking fine wine. We did however bring on two bottles of wine as this is allowed, but you could only drink this in your cabin, not really a lot for a week aye but anything helps !! The drink package still works out at 165 dollars- Â£26 per bottle + tax a bit much when other cruise lines are much more reasonable. ( All the drinks are expensive so be aware) There is a 45 dollars each package drink as much wine and beer as you want, but I am not sure if that includes the tax. I doubt if we could drink that much a day so was no use to us but may work out okay if you like a few drinks..
Entertainment very good great fun with good party nights, but was disappointed shows were pre dinner most nights i.e 7pm or just the one show at 8.45 so didn't get to see these much as we like to watch them later after our 8.30 dinner seating. But overall, some good fun nights.
Pool area gets very very busy espeially when everyone is back from their trips and on sea days. Itineries were good would definitly recommend Oman a beautiful place, but don't bother to go on any of the trips at Fujairah, everyone we spoke to said they were rubbish, we decided to go to the mall and found it very cheap, can use Dubai money there or dollars. Would recommend the hop on and hop off buses usually based at port gates, cost approx Â£38 gives you a good overall view of the place and you can stop and off and explore when you want. Remember to take long trousers men and ladies plus a scarf for covering hair if viewing a mosque.
Overall I thought the cruise ship was wonderful the crew members were so helpful and friendly and nothing was too much for them the ship had lots to do and it was easy to find a quiet spot if needed, but there was shortage of sunbeds in the sun when everyone was around and you had to grab one early especially on sea days, it was also very crowded on deck on these days too, sunbeds practically on top of each other.
I would go on another R.C cruise but on one of the smaller ships like the serenade as it was friendly and easy to meet up with people. We were lucky we had great people on out table and met some lovely people reguarly on board.
So apart form the cost of trips and alcohol on board a very pleasant experience.