My first cruise ever (in 2004) was on the Serenade of the Seas out of Boston for a three nighter to Halifax and back. So I jumped at the opportunity to cruise the sister ship of the Serenade. Well, I was not disappointed, but was not overly impressed either.
They had a small outbreak of the Noro virus on the ship so they were cleaning everything, and handing out plates so that they would not be touched by people in the Windjammer. Of course no one can prevent the stupid people on the ship who grab the food with their hands from the buffet. I simply cannot believe that there are people who cannot understand the usage of tongs. But perhaps I hang around smarter people! They also had the hand sanitizers whenever you entered any eating place.
Here are the positives:
1) Cabin and ship was kept quite clean
2) Service in dining rooms, and everywhere else was excellent
3) Food was actually quite good in the Windjammer and in the Seaview Restaurant (I call that place a hidden jewel since not many people know about it) Get the chips and dip which has freshmade Guac! The Fish and chips were mentioned by a British dining table companion as being quite good also. I had a very good Reuben and a very good salad with tuna on top. Nathan's Hot Dog was also great!
4) Chops was Top Notch as usual. Service was great also!
5) Balcony stateroom was actually quite comfortable.
6) Meet and Mingle was great. Won an umbrella which caused the rain to miss us in Halifax (At least I hope so)!
7) Lunch on the last day of the cruise was excellent. They had a salad bar where you chose your ingredients, dressing, and toppings like shrimp, bacon, chicken, etc. It was excellent! The Chicken yakitori was also very good
8) Cruise Director Keith and his staff were "top-notch". He was very good at everything he did, and looked like he enjoyed himself. His staff was also excellent at presenting many options. I was actually very impressed with how well that department was run. I actually won a few things in contests (The Disco trivia, and the James Bond trivia in the casino) Keith is a major star in RC, and should be recognized for his talents!
9) Getting onto the Ship in Boston, and departing the ship was very painless, almost to the point of being too easy. We arrived via car at the port and were on the ship within 15 minutes. Getting off took even less time (less than a 2 minute wait), and the bags were there waiting for us. That was a very positive experience!
10) Room service was great. I got the International cheese plate each night as a bedtime snack, and enjoyed it every night.
1) Our bathroom smelled of foul wastewater most of the cruise. Reported it multiple times, nothing was done.
2) Other minor issues in the stateroom: Chairs on balcony were ripped and not usable, Door lock would not close without slamming, TV issues, etc. Those were fixed.
3) SMOKING! YUCK! It was always smoky smelling on my Balcony, and the putrid smell of cigarette smoke was evident in the Centrum because of the Casino, and other areas where cigarette smoking was allowed. RC needs to get with the times and relegate smoking to one area outside the ship and nowhere else. The Casino smelled of smoke even when nobody was using it. While they may have had specific tables non-smoking, it was not even enforced. Also when three people are spewing their stench at the next table you will be affected by it. It was difficult to traverse the ship without being bombarded with the awful stench of burning tobacco!
4) The food in the Main dining was at best a B/C grade in terms of temperature, and quality. While I understand feeding thousands of people in a short period of time is difficult, they need to improve it. Also the food selection was lacking. It was mentioned that it felt like we were at a wedding banquet!
5) The casino slots are quite able to take your money and give nothing in return. At least they cannot modify the odds of the table games.
6) The Internet service costs too much money. I know they have a captive audience and can get it, but the prices of 65 cents a minute is just too much. They need to have a more competitive pricing program like $100 for the length of the cruise no matter how much you use it.
7) The crowds at the 11PM buffet were overwhelming, to the point of the line extending out the hallway. I gave up after 10 minutes!
All in All, it was a good but not great cruise.