This was a 14 day, 12 port trip from San Francisco up to Hubbard Glacier in Alaska and then ending in Vancouver. We have been on two Alaska cruises before, each of seven days and one with the additional seven day land tour. This Serenade of the Seas cruise brought us to several ports that we had never travelled such as Astoria OR, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point, and Prince Rupert BC.
I cannot say enough about the friendliness and professionalism of the staff members on Serenade of the Seas. It was evident to us that their training was excellent. We did not meet any unhappy crew members. Captain Michael Claveau was also very approachable, friendly, and easy to understand. The ship was clean and the food was delicious. We had Corona for our cabin member, Hazel for our waiter, and Andre for assistant waiter. In addition to keping our cabin clean and orderly, Corona gave us great tips about the ports and reminders to bring a jacket, passport, umbrella, other things that we needed in port. Our female waiter, Hazel was quite entertaining and animated. She provided good advice and explanation of the dishes. All staff members we met were EXCELLENT and were truly interested in assisting us to have a great cruise. Cruise Director Keith Williams went above and beyond as he jumped into the water in Hubbard Glacier for our amuzement. He seemed to be everywhere interjecting fun and passion into the passengers' cruise experience. Many kudos and thanks to all the staff.
The Seaview Cafe was a little hard to find the first couple of times we visited, although it was a real treat. The food was good and the staff was terrific. They really made us feel welcomed, especially AnneMarie.
The Portofino restaurant was a terrific and a truly delicious experience. It included dishes that we have never tried before. Had we gone to Portofino our first week, we probably would have gone again the second week - it was that good. It was definitely worth the extra $20. During our first week we went to Chops, which was similar to any upscale steak restaurant such as Ruth Chris's. We had the filet minon which was delicious and very tender.
We don't know how they do it, but there was never any long lines on the ship. Apparently, RCL has learned how to manage large groups of people. We tendered at two ports and even that was orderly and quickly handled with RCL engaging adequate tenders to handle the waiting passengers.
The week before our cruise, we were genuinely concerned due to the threat of swine flu and that the Serenade of the Seas was visiting three Mexico ports prior to our cruise. I contacted Royal Caribbean by phone about my concerns and to find out what precautions would be taken. While I was not completely relieved, customer service staff explained what steps were being taken at that time. I continued to check daily with Royal Carbbean's website and other press to stay updated. I was happy to hear that the ship was diverted from its third Mexican port before picking us up in San Francisco, although I had hoped that they would cancel all Mexican ports. Had we known of any illness on the ship before our cruise especially with staff members, we would have cancelled our cruise. Despite all precautions the cruise line took, it was reported to us that two staff Serenade of the Seas members tested positive for flu symptoms, were isolated and treated with Tamilfu until they were recovered during our cruise. The fact that they were ill was not revealed to us until May 10, over a week into our cruise, after the staff members were fully recovered.