My fiancé and I were looking to get away from the rain and cold of Seattle for the week of Valentines (and President’s day). We ended up choosing the Serenade of the Seas based on the fact that it went to the greatest number of ports in 7 days amongst its peers. That said, we very much enjoyed the ports, but were let down with the activities and entertainment the ship had to offer.
Cruise Activities and Entertainment: The cruise director, Dennis, was obnoxious and had a poor sense of humor (often relying on racial jokes with the air of a game show presenter). If you do not have Dennis coordinating your cruise, the following problems likely won’t be an issue for you. However, on our cruise, the biggest complaint was a lack of activities offered. Sure, we went to five ports in six days of cruising. But when we got back to the ship at around 4:30 every day, we would head to dinner at 6, catch the evening show at 9, and then that would be it. The few “dance parties” the cruise hosted did not interest us. There was a “disco night,” a “dancing under the stars night,” and a “farewell dance.” Each dance had few people show up and when you heard the music they were playing, you could understand why. Disco is self-explanatory, and I suppose would have been more fun if there were more than a couple dozen people. The dancing under the stars night was simply a series of line dances (i.e. “Macarena,” “Electric Slide,” etc), which are reminiscent of junior high school dances which I would rather not live through again. And the dance on the last night had all of 5 people show up in the first 45 minutes.
The entertainment during the cruise was less than excitable. I will admit that we did appear to miss the one night of entertainment that was actually worthy – some famous comedian. However, after the first two nights with the cruise director making his racial slurs and the “Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers” butchering some of my favorite musical songs, we were unmotivated to attend that third (and apparently reputable) night of comedy. We did, however, see the two remaining comedians, one of which worked magic tricks into his act and was a decent performer, and the other who had his show at 11:45 (for adults only) and performed to a nearly empty and silent audience (silent due to lack of any humor whatsoever). Another performer was “El Gaucho” whose entire act consisted of twirling ropes and making egocentric cracks at the audience (normally that they weren’t applauding enough for his ability to crack a rope on the ground). Needless to say, the entertainment left us more than somewhat disgruntled. The one redeeming show that we sat through was, ironically, the one that the audience put on – or rather, three couples from the audience. A show called “Love and Marriage” where a couple of 65 years, a couple of 20 something years, and a newlywed couple were selected to answer questions about their spouse the way they think the other would answer. We suffered through the cruise director (hosting the show) to hear hilarious answers and cheer on the couples who guessed correctly. That was our favorite activity throughout the cruise.
Now, while it is somewhat understandable to not have many activities offered during the days we were in port, it is an entirely different thing to have a limited selection on the one day at sea. We woke up usually by 7 on the days we were in port, however on the day at sea, the only activity planned before 9:30 was a yoga class that you had to pay for. After that, the selection was very limited: you could choose to go to a “towel folding demonstration” (the crew members make animals out of towels on your bed each night), a “napkin folding demonstration,” and a “cake demonstration,” the latter of which we attended. Now, with a name like “cake demonstration,” you would come to the conclusion that you would be shown how to make a cake, right? Wrong. We were shown how to ice a cake with whipped cream by a very obnoxious Dennis and a chef from the cruise kitchen. They did feed cake to those who suffered through the painful “demonstration,” but it was mostly whipped cream and wasn’t worth the hour of wasted time. Although, it’s not like there were many other options that morning.
In the afternoon, things did not get much better. Twice, there were classes at the champagne bar that nobody showed up to and thus did not happen. We finally just gave up on the pathetic attempt at “activities” and climbed the rock wall then went in the pool.
Dining Experience: The dinners on the ship were decent. Decent, but not out of this world. In fact, by the time that I had lobster on the second formal night, I was convinced that they just drizzled everything with butter and salt as their form of seasoning. We attended both specialty restaurants. At Chops, we were handed a wine list that had a few higher end options not available in the dining room. I ordered the lobster carpaccio and filet mignon – by far my best meal on the ship. My fiancé got the “recommended” New York Strip and onion soup – which turned out being offered in the dining room two nights later (he ordered it and it tasted exactly the same…waste of $20). We also attended the mystery dinner theatre in Portofino, which consisted of watching the ship’s singers and dancers perform a show and then moving into the dining room to eat and quiz the characters, attempting to guess who committed the murder. The show was a disaster. The script was nightmarish and the performers were having trouble staying in character – often laughing at inappropriate times, forgetting lines, and well…making up lines (and they were not good at improvising). The food was disappointing. There was a limited menu with only two choices for an appetizer (clam chowder or Caesar salad), two choices for an entrée (filet mignon or a shrimp dish) and tiramisu for dessert (the one Italian dish we were served). I would not recommend this experience to anybody and almost demanded my $55 back.
Service: Despite the disappointments from our dining experience and entertainment (or lack thereof), the service was impeccable. We loved our dining room staff and our room attendant and wouldn’t mind going back on the cruise simply to chat with them some more. Everyone is from such diverse backgrounds and makes for very interesting conversations. The crew onboard really went the extra mile to ensure that our cruise was enjoyable.