We had already spent 2 days in Dubai prior to embarkation. We arrived at the Cruise Terminal at about 11 am and our check-in was smooth and quick. We were able to get to our stateroom at midday so we went and had a drink first before a little exploring.
We found our stateroom straight away but were a little disappointed to discover that it was just off the Centrum and hoped that this would not be too noisy. Also, we were right above the lifeboats so could not see right down the side of the ship! Never mind, the stateroom was a little smaller to what we were used too but was pleasant enough. The bathroom was a little too small for my liking tho'. We freshened up a little and then went exploring again. By now we were hungry so went to the Windjammer for lunch which, of course, was delicious. I jokingly said to my husband that as we were one of the first to check in, our luggage would be the last to arrive ... strangely enough this was true - it didn't arrive till after 6 pm! We were on 8.30 sitting for dinner so we weren't too bothered as we sailed at 6 anyway.
Dinner the first night was informal and we met with the other occupants of our table. Our waiters were attentive - the assistant waiter more so!
We had decided that we would spend most of the time on board as we really needed to unwind after a hectic year. Therefore we were able to get a sunbed most days although there was still the usual saving of beds ... RCI do not seem to enforce the "no reservation of sunbed" rule too strongly!
As usual, the food on board was superb ... we tried Chops Grille, Isumi and Giovanni's and they were all brilliant. The waiters/waitresses were very attentive and advised on the menu at all times.
I believe that RCI staff are far and above the most friendliest we have ever come across. This was true of Serenade of the Seas!
This was the first cruise I had been on where there were passengers of so many different nationalities - everywhere you turned there was a different language being spoken. This was only a problem when it came to important announcements as they had to be broadcast in most languages!!
I was also very surprised that not many people actually turned up to dine on formal evenings dressed in formal attire!
The entertainment was so-so! The Cruise Director, Paul Rudder, was excellent but was let down by some of his staff. Special mention to Bjorn though - he was hilarious!! We were sadly correct by the noise from the Centrum being heard in our stateroom ... luckily this only affected us once when we retired earlier than normal ... mainly because we were getting up at 4.00 am to go home!! Not really what we needed on the last night!
We only went on two shore excursions - Abu Dhabi was amazing and the Grand Mosque was breath-taking. The guide was informative and unobtrusive. We did the tour in Dubai with the trip to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa. This time the guide was route-marching us a bit. We had to tell him to slow down as some of the group were unable to keep up. It was almost as if he wanted to get the tour done in record time. Unfortunately one of the party did not turn up when we were about to leave for the next stop so the guide had to go and look for him. This wasted almost an hour so our tour was curtailed and we never got to the Souks!! Very disappointing!
Disembarkation was quick - we took our own luggage as we left at 5.45 am. Very surprised that breakfast was being served from 4.00 am ... not that you could get a table even that early!
All in all - a lovely cruise with a few niggles.