BACK-TO-BACK DETAILS: Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by petesweet
Overall Member Rating
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Because this was the very last Hawaii cruise by RCCL, I won't elaborate on the ports or the entertainment—just point out some interesting ship things on the ship and the B2B routine.
Turnaround day was fun. Everybody else has to leave, and we (and 23 other people) had the ship to ourselves. We were given a card to present for re-embarkation if we wanted to leave the ship and come back easily, but we chose just to stay onboard because we had been to L.A. so many times. There was a special luncheon prepared for us at Portofino's, but it was a bit too fancy for our taste, so we went up to the Windjammer at 11:30 to enjoy our regular lunch there without More much of a crowd. Some people were already boarding. It was nice to see our Alaska waiter there looking handsome in his new uniform—supervisor. He deserved the promotion.
We achieved the status of platinum at the end of the Alaska cruise, so we had to go to the Crown & Anchor lounge to get a sticker on our sea pass card indicating this. Then we traded our gold coupon books (already efficiently put in our rooms by Skinner, our room attendant) for the more generous platinum books. As platinum, we were also eligible for terrycloth robes to use during the cruise. We were offered priority bookings in the spa and for excursions, but we did not take advantage of that.
Then on to the dining room to check out our requested table for two. We found out that instead, we had been assigned to a large table near the window. We asked the maitre d' for a change and were given a nice table for two. That first night we went. Our waiter and assistant waiter probably would have been fun as the 15 days went on, but we had definitely been spoiled on the Alaska portion of the cruise. Also, we found the slow pace of the meal was not so pleasurable with just two, so we decided to sign up for My Time Dining. Well - too late. We could switch, but there were no early time slots. We signed up anyway so we could release the coveted table for two but told them we would probably eat in the Windjammer every night (which we ended up doing and enjoying). By eating in the shorter time period, we were able to go to the early evening programs in the theater.
As B2B cruisers, we had earlier received a letter in our stateroom offering a free bag of laundry—just things like underwear and socks, not jeans, etc. We stuffed the bag and left it with Skinner, and then we got everything back nicely folded. (Later in the cruise we got another offer, but we would have had to pay $20 for that one.)
I like the library on Serenade because it is open all the time. There is an honor system. While it is very tiny and there are not lots of books, you don't have to be there at a certain time to check books out with a staff member.
Two things I noticed right away about the demographics on the ship. There were many more children who apparently were not part of the children's program. They were in the dining room a lot (one running loose a lot). There were also a LOT more canes, walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs. I would have thought Alaska would have been for the older crowd and Hawaii for the younger. Apparently not so.
I tried climbing the rock wall one day but didn't reach the top (I'm 69 years old!). The next day I reached the top and rang the bell. Carly B (the cruise director) had a little chat session which we enjoyed.
The seas were much higher in Hawaii area, and it was fun to watch the self-leveling pool tables by the Schooner Bar. They were really rocking and rolling at times.
As platinum members, we were privileged to sit in Portofino's on our last morning until time to disembark. We were the last group to leave, and we took a van to our airport hotel ($17 each). We had originally scheduled a tour in L.A. to kill some time but canceled it because of heavy fires in the area. As it turned out, the fires did not cover the area with smoke, but we were tired anyway and enjoyed just resting in our hotel. I had bid on the hotel on Priceline and got it for $60 (Crowne Plaza). Very nice hotel, but not many places to eat nearby. We found a Burger King a short walk away. The reason we had to get a hotel is that we could not get a flight back to Greenville on Saturday but had to wait until Sunday. Less
Read Cruise Critic's Serenade of the Seas Review >>