Serenade of the Seas Cruise Review by frommichigan: 1st Southern Caribbean Cruise
Overall Member Rating
1st Southern Caribbean Cruise
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: San Juan
My husband and I booked this 8-night cruise almost a year in advance, which gave us a lot of time to research on these boards what would be fun and what to expect. I am not going to go into great detail but wanted to share some of our experience on this cruise.
We chose to book a hotel pre-cruise via priceline. It was a great way to do this and we ended up staying at the Radisson Ambassador Hotel for half the price of a normal room. One thing to note is that priceline only books the hotel room for 2 people and thus when you get to the hotel you pay a $20.00 surcharge for each additional guest staying in the room.
We took a taxi to get to the ship which is really your only option in San Juan as the hotels don't offer shuttles. We ended up splitting it with another couple which made it only $12.00. We arrived at the ship around 11am and had to wait in line for them to collect our luggage, however the process went very quickly and we found ourselves on board headed to lunch More by 11:30.
At Sea. We only had one sea day. We were a little disappointed that there were not more activities on the schedule and the ones that were, were not very well promoted. My husband tried to play in a table tennis tournament on this day and there were only a couple of people. Side note he would try to play in the same one two more times and was the only one who signed up. Oh well. We enjoyed spending time by the pool and relaxing.
Entertainment was sorely lacking. The guest entertainers were okay. Kind of a mixed bag some we liked others were terrible. The production shows were terrible the costumes were falling apart which you could see all the way back to row 10. Less
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Cabin review: Q3041 Interior Stateroom
Our room was on deck three in the front of the ship, on the end of a hallway and the only time you could here noises was when someone was using the crew area to wash and clean room service items or if we were in port and disembarkation was happening at the front of the ship on deck two. Otherwise it was very quiet.Read All Interior Stateroom (Q) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
The local bus system is yellow and the government bus system is blue. Either is safe and easy to use. The yellow bus comes by more frequently and thus quicker to use. Both are cheap. It cost us $1.00 each, each way.
We brought our own snorkel gear and swam out to see the turtles. We only ended up seeing two, but the water was amazingly clear. On shore we rented two chairs and a umbrella for $15.00 which was a good deal.
We booked a private tour through a fellow cruiser on this site. The tour/taxi guide's name was York. If you ever go and want a great tour see him. It was amazing. We started out in the city where he talked about the different buildings and areas we passed. Then we headed to the home of the Italian Consulate, this is also an artist workshop with amazing art made from shells and different articles from the area. There are beautiful gardens on the property. Next we headed to Brimstone Fortress which was amazing. Admission is $8.00 per person. Next stop on the tour was some island touring before heading to the resort district. After that we headed to our private portion of the tour which was seeing some homes and resort of the fellow cruiser's friend who lived on the island. They were amazing.
I would highly recommend York. You can set up whatever route you want or just let him take you around.
The tour begins in Castries with an overview of the capital city's significant sites. Enjoy a scenic drive along the west coast through the expansive fertile river valleys of Cul De Sac and Roseau. A short stop at Marigot Bay provides and excellent photo opportunity with commanding vistas of the picturesque bay. We were able to purchase things like banana ketchup and hot sauces. At one point the tour had said you go through a banana plantation but actually you just drive by it, they talk about it and a quick stop of the bus to take a couple of pictures, however you don't get to get off.
The tour continued through the fishing villages of Anse La Raye and Canaries and through the rainforest to arrive at Soufriere and witness the awesome Pitons - a World Heritage Site. Diamond Botanical Garden beckons with the variety of tropical flowers and plants then on to the drive in volcano followed by Creole Buffet Lunch at the end. Now I am not a huge fan of buffets where you don't know what you are going to get but surprisingly the lunch was very good.
Would I recommend this tour. It depends. If you are looking for a lot of information and don't mind spending a lot of time riding in a tour bus then yes.
Best place to rent a car if you are from the U.S. the traffic is easy to handle and they drive on the same side of the road as you. You can't get lost because there is only one main road around the whole island. The whole island can be driven in roughly an hour and forty-five minutes. Costal Car Rentals will let you pre-book a car online and you don't have to pay until you return the car so you can pay cash or use your credit card.
Fort Louis was nice. The view is amazing, the ruins are run down but seem to have some new repairs here and there. Since you don't have to pay to get in, it isn't maintained like a lot of other forts, but it was fun to go to.
Maho Beach was a blast. The water wasn't calm this time, but no worries it makes for great wave jumping and wave surfing. Just be careful the waves we had can knock you over if you are only knee deep. Watching the planes land was amazing as normal. Note though if you go do not put your items on the beach behind the run way. Sit to the side. I guess people didn't realize when a plane takes off it creates a lot of wind and it ended up sending people and items into the ocean.
St. Thomas is the place to shop. If you want Alcohol you will find it to be a better price here then a lot of other places and way better than the prices in the U.S.
The nice thing about St. Thomas is that the port shopping is really nice. When you are done there you can follow the boardwalk and sidewalks along the water which will take you into town for more shopping.
Not as good as past cruises
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This was a great itinerary.