Ship: GTV Serenade of the Seas. Ports of Call: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. Plus a really close cruising around Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat and Soufriere, St. Lucia Day: January 3, 2004
EMBARKATION: Just an hour away from my town we decided to leave for San Juan at 8:30 am and we arrive at the Pan American Pier at 9:30 am. For all that don't know, the Serenade docks at a completely new pier NOT in the Old San Juan. To get to San Juan you must take a taxi. About 10:30 am the embarkation started and it was really fast. Fortunately we were the first that entered the ship. The embarkation process was very well organized. There is a waiting place in the terminal and a few lines identified by the deck that you will be staying. After that, we went up the escalator and entered the magnificent Serenade of the Seas. My recommendation, get over there early! If you come early you'll enter and enjoy the ship more time.
CABIN: We booked the Serenade a year ago, and we got a Deck 2 cabin, well, not what we were expecting, but the reality was very different. Our cabins were 2007 and 2009 in Deck 2. This deck is where they get off the ship in the ports of call, very convenient! Our cabin was excellent; the space was adequate for us. We had to get to the cabin after 1 pm but we got there before and leave the luggage that we did not give to the porters. Our cabins were a triple and a double. The decoration was very beautiful, the navy blue, peach and pink were the colors of the cabin. Deck 2 has no more than 30 rooms, very silent and accessible because the Centrum elevators were within our reach. Our cabin steward was Putu from the Philippines, he was kind of shy but he did an excellent job maintaining the cabin clean and organized for us. Thanks Putu!
SHIP TOUR: Deck 4 has the bottom of the heart of the ship: The Centrum, in this deck we find the Lobby Bar and few desks for assistance. The Reflections Dining Room is a work of art, very fine decorations and colors. The cascades and the stairs of the dining room are a must-see and must-photograph. Also in this deck the Tropical Theater is located, it is a breathtaking place is it very big it covers three decks and it is very beautifully decorated.
We move up to Deck 5, in this deck the Art and Photo Gallery is located, very organized, seems to be crowded but we never found a long waiting line to pay. After the gallery we find the Shops of the Centrum, there is a Jewelry Shop, a Perfume Shop, Logo, Clothing and Liquor Stores. The place was completely in wood, very good looking and polished. We reached the Centrum and in the corner the Lattetudes is located offering different kind of coffee and pastries but with a small charge. Up one deck and we find the Deck 6. This deck is the one that features restaurants, lounges, and places to rest. We start with the Cinema, it was big, and it was never crowded except for one night, which the people had to sit on the floor. Right next to the cinema we find The Pit Stop; this is the sport themed bar, large screens showing sport games. Casino Royale, filled with slot machines, and few tables of games was nearly full at nights. We reach the Centrum again, in the edge of the atrium the Champagne Bar was located, it was always empty. Now, my favorite part of the ship, the entrance of the Schooner Bar was gorgeous, all was done is dark wood, with ships and very comfortable sofas. In the side of the Schooner Bar the restaurants Chops and Portofino were located, both with a $20 charge and in the end of the deck the Safari Club featured a bar, a card room and the popular billiard room. The Library, that is very small but filled with interesting books was located on Deck 9.
In the Deck 11 the Indian themed Solarium was located very fresh area with a Cafe offering excellent pizza, sandwiches, cookies and brownies and also a bar. Near the Solarium the Main Pool was located, very crowded on Sea Days. After that, the Windjammer was opened filled with yummy food, the cafe was very organized never crowded, and the food was divided in small "islands" no waiting lines at all. Over the Windjammer the Seaview Cafe offered a good menu, but their opening hours were very unstable. One day the opened at 10 pm others at 2 pm, check your Compass to know and not miss the opportunity to eat there, it often got very crowded. Also on deck 12 we find the basketball court, the teen pool, Adventure Ocean and Fuel, we got in to see Fuel and is a very cool disco for teenagers. Finally, Deck 13 had the Golf Fairways of the Serenade, the Rock Climbing Wall, Hollywood Odyssey and the Vortex Disco up in the Viking Crown. The ship was amazingly beautiful in decoration. Serenade deserves a 5 star in terms on decorations.
RESTAURANTS: Chops Grille: We went to Chops Grille at the Antigua night. It is a very excellent restaurant, amazing service, great menu and beautiful decoration. Definitely paying 20 dollars worth the experience. The restaurant serves juicy steaks, I asked for the NY Sirloin Steak and it was amazing, the Mud Pie excellent. Just make a reservation early, I made it on the first day and almost all the days were already booked. To everyone I will put the menu here: Appetizers- Shrimp Cocktail, Portobello Caps, Maryland Crab Cakes/ Soups- Cheese N' Onion Soup, New England Clam Chowder/ Salads- Chops Salad, Beefsteak Tomato, Traditional Caesar/ Entrees: Prime Rib, Filet Mignon, NY Sirloin Steak, Veal Chops, Lamb Chops, Pork Shank, Rotisserie Chicken, Grilled Salmon/ Desserts- Mud Pie, Apple Pie, Raspberry Cheesecake, Brioche Pudding. The service was incredibly excellent and the menu presentation was magnificent.
Seaview Cafe: This place was excellent. The menu was very good. I recommend the Fish and Chips, the Feathers and Fingers (Chicken) and the Burgers and not to mention the Chili con Carne. The service was good, very friendly staff.
Windjammer: Very organized, the food I ate was very good, specially the beef, chicken and fish. Excellent desserts. Very clean restaurant and the staff were friendly.
Reflections: I was in the Second Seating of 8:30 pm, the waiter was Ahmed from Turkey and the assistant waiter was Carolina from Chile, both did an excellent job; they were very friendly with us. They helped us really to make this vacation unforgettable. The food was good; the themes of the nights were Italian, International and Caribbean. I recommend the Prime Rib, the Cheese Ravioli and the Turkey Parmigiana. They offered Lobster and Steak one day.
PORTS: All the ports were not new, we had visited each one in other cruises, we stayed shopping and walking near the cruise. Other Ships at ports: San Juan- Celebrity Constellation, Carnival Jubilee and Pullmantur Pacific. St. Thomas- SeaDream I, Carnival Jubilee and Pullmantur Pacific. St. Maarten- Celebrity Summit and Carnival Spirit. Antigua- Norwegian Sky and Oceania's Regatta. St. Lucia- none. Barbados- Costa Classica, MSC Lirica and Freewinds.
UNUSUAL SIGHTS: The captain of the ship is Stig Nielsen. He truly is a very experienced captain. Thanks to him we enjoyed more our day in St. Lucia and the Sea Day was amazing. We leaved St. Lucia at 5:00 pm we kept cruising unusually near the coast of St. Lucia heading south. Just about 45 minutes later we saw the majestic Pitons, then the ship turned more closely to the shore and we got inside the Soufriere Bay heading straight over the Pitons, a very scary moment, we saw the fear of the fellow passengers. We passed just half a mile from both mountains, the captain spoke thru the speakers and he informed about the history of the mountains and everything was planned and was normal. The sunset looked magical, that night was unforgettable and shocking.
This is not ending yet.. At sea day the captain turned the ship northwest just after Guadeloupe, heading straight to an unrecognizable island. We were nearer and nearer then the captain turned the ship and slowed it down, the island was Montserrat, the captain approached us to the desolated capital of Plymouth, totally destroyed since 1999 because of the violent eruptions of the Soufriere Volcano. The captain said that three weeks ago the volcano erupted. We passed really near the island we could even sense the bad smell of sulfur. We passed Montserrat and another island was there, it was Nevis, we passed near it and also we cruise just to the south of St. Kitts, both island were clearly. In the afternoon we passed St. Eustatius and then arrived to gorgeous Saba. We passed very close to this one, about half a mile too, very mountainous island, with a flat part where the smallest airport of the world is located.
ENTERTAINMENT: The ship had different activities each night like Karaoke, Latin Fiesta, Caribbean Night. Every night there were great spectacles at the Tropical Theatre. The Safari Club hosted Bingos, Comedy. The Entertainment was great, there were things each day to make you enjoy!
MY RATINGS Food: 4 1/2 out of 5. Service: 5 out of 5. Ports: 3 out of 5. Shopping: 4 out of 5.
Serenade is a magnificent ship, very fine decorated, excellent service, good food; it is the perfect place to have a wonderful vacation. I give the ship a perfect score because of the excellent experience that I had, I had no complains!. Thanks to Putu, Carolina and Ahmed, you did a wonderful job! I recommend the Serenade of the Seas for everyone, you will surely enjoy it!
Edwin Jr. Toledo "El Turista" Puerto Rico USA
1994 Fiesta Marina 1995 Carnival Festivale 1997 Carnival Tropicale 1998 Carnival Inspiration 2000 Carnival Fascination 2001 Carnival Destiny 2003 RCCL Adventure of the Seas 2004 RCCL Serenade of the Seas 2005 RCCL Adventure of the Seas