I traveled with my cousin. This was our 3rd cruise together, all on Royal Caribbean. I am 30 and he is 25. We like the rest and relaxation of cruises and visiting the different ports of call.
We stayed at the Hilton New Orleans Airport on a "Sleep and Sail" package that included one night hotel stay, one week of parking at the hotel and transportation from the hotel to the cruise terminal. The hotel was very clean and neat but is a little outdated. We did have to remind them that the package included the transportation to the cruise terminal, but it worked out in the end. Just a word of caution, the food prices at the hotel are VERY high.
The Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship with ocean views from many different views. My only complaint is that the ship has been refitted with the addition of many new venues beyond what it was designed to have and as a result several traffic "choke-points" have formed throughout the ship; such as in the Casino, the shops on board and any area around the centrum.
The onboard activities were "ok". There was not a huge variety of things to do at any given time and some of the activities were very poorly organized. It seemed that most of the things to do on the ship were geared towards a more senior demographic. The activities staff consists of the Cruise Director and his wife with 4 staffers. They are ridiculously understaffed. The Cruise Director was not very visible and at times 3 of the 4 staff members would all be working on one activity such as bingo. There were things to do but not like we had on the Voyager of the Seas. Part of this problem may have been because of the passenger demographic on this cruise. I would not go so far as to say that we were "bored" at all.
The service on the ship was very good for the most part. We had a great cabin steward and all of the bartenders we encountered were very friendly. We did have a problem with our Chef's Table reservation, but I will go into detail about that in the "Chef's Table" section below. Overall I will say that service on the ship was very good.
The ports were good, but the stop in Key West could have been longer. We had a fun time in each port. Their private island of Coco Cay was exceptionally beautiful. We should have booked more excursions than we did, but we still had a great time. One word of warning about Nassau: We were approached by the people that rent the mopeds and bikes outside of the cruise terminal 3 times with propositions to buy drugs.
Travel to Embarkation
Of the 3 cruises we have done together and the 4 total that I have done this was by far the easiest embarkation that I have ever had. It was very smooth and very fast. All of the staff at the pier were very fast, friendly and helpful.
Our cabin steward was nice and friendly. He was very fast and efficient and would always stop to say hi and talk to us. He went out of his way to help with one of my medications that had to be stored in a refrigerated location. Just FYI the coolers in the cabins are usually not cold enough to store medication. If you have a refrigerated medication you should tell your travel agent or the cruise line so that arrangements can be made for proper storage and for you to get a Sharp's Container if needed.
As usual the food in the dining room was awesome! Our service started out a little slow, but that was the waiter's first day on the ship and he tried really hard and was better and better every day. We could not ask for more. The food in the Windjammer was like any buffet food, not the freshest but was very good.
We reserved Chef's Table online before the cruise. We had reservations for February 12, the day we were in Coco Cay. Royal Caribbean has a very poor reservation system and the system stopped allowing new reservations saying that the venue was already full so others could not book. When we got to the ship and inquired about our reservations we were told that not enough people had booked so we may be moved to another night. The following morning we got a call that were moved to the night we would be in Nassau, so our plans for Nassau were pretty much ruined.
After I got the call I went to Guest Services. They called the Specialty Restaurant manager and we were told that there is nothing they can do to help us. After speaking with them I went up to see the Specialty Restaurant manager and was told that we were moved to a different night and that a private party was booked in our place. A lady there then chimed in that we only paid $70.00 per person because booked online and that the private party paid $95.00 per person because they booked onboard.
Needless to say I was furious. When we arrived in Key West that day I called the corporate offices who emailed the ship. That evening the Head Waitress in the dining room asked to speak with us to see what was going on then we had a meeting with the Maitre D. We still had to go to dinner on the wrong night, but they did refund what we paid, gave us some free wine and a lunch in Giovannis.
The food and service in Chef's Table was phenomenal. This was easily the best meal I have ever had and even with the problems we had I will book Chef's Table on every cruise I take in the future.
For the onboard programs we only saw the two adult comedy shows and they were pretty good. We did like the Quest and the Love and Marriage Game Show.