Exceptional Cruise on the Serenade!
We (2 adult kids in their 20's and parents) sailed on the serenade on July 2nd to July 9th. It was a beautiful ship. Having been on the Liberty, I thought it was a bit small after I first got on but it didn't bother me after all. The crew was amazing. Everyone always greeted me with a smile and hello. The food was beyond excellent. I really enjoyed the food on the Liberty so I knew what to expect, but this food was even better overall, so much variety in the Windjammer - from American, to Indian to Thai. Great salad bar as well. So much choice! Desserts were great too. I always had seconds? Seaview cafe on deck 12 had great snacks, my sister and I loved the brownies with whipped cream. Solarium cafe had great pizza and wraps as well.
HINT: Check the dinner menus of the MDR everyday if you are not sure whether you want to go or not. We went 4 days to the MDR and the rest of time we went to the Windjammer buffet. We noticed the same items on the MDR menu was also served at the Windjammer. Also, on the first Sea day, they served a chocolate breakfast in the MDR. I missed this?
We ate at Portofino's one night. It was great. We didn't care too much for the appetizers but the main courses (we had lamb, seafood) were so good. The desserts were amazing as well - especially the tiramisu. There is also a Carribbean buffet night at 11pm one day - check your compass.
Formal nights - day 2 and day 5. The rest of the days - casual, but most people dressed up.
SHOWS: Shows were good. We enjoyed the comedian. He performed 2 nights. Loved the Motown show. That was the best one. They always repeat 2 shows every night. Except on the last day, they had a nice farewell show.
Barbados - It was raining when we first docked so we were not sure how the day was going to be. But we took a shuttle into downtown paid $2 each and walked 5 min to Lobster Alive. It was $15 for 2 beach chairs, umbrella and 3 rum punches. The area around Lobster Alive looks run down but the beach is pretty. It was fully worth it. We spend the morning at the beach and then we left back to the ship. There is a great terminal there with shops (typical tourist stuff), when you get off the ship, it has free wifi.
St Lucia - again it was raining. We took a tour through "More than a cab" found it through CC. Amazing tour guide, her name was Vicky. For $47 a person she took us to see the pitons and volcano. It took 1.5 hours to get there from the port. I emphasize that if you are prone to motion sickness do not take tours to see the pitons and volcano unless you take a gravol. The roads are winding and go up and down hills and if you are not used to it, you will feel it. Everyone felt a little nauseous, and my sister ended up throwing up on the side of the road. I also heard there are water taxis which take only 40 min to get there but we didn't use it.
ANTIGUA - again it rained when we docked. When we first got there, we just walked around the port area. There is a vendors market, 5 min walk from the ship if you want to buy souvenirs etc. We found a cab driver to take us around Antigua for $10 a person. We saw the Devils Bridge, English Harbour (nelson's dockyard, but didn't go inside), rainforest and the beach. It was really a bargain.
St. Marten - We took a water taxi from the ship to downtown Phillipsburg for $6pp. Its worth it because you can use the pass all day. As opposed to walking into town - it takes 20 min from the ship. We have been to St Marten before so once we got to P-burg we took a "bus" (van that locals use) paid $2 to go to Mullet Bay. You will see the name on the bus dashboard if you want to go here. It says "Maho Bay/Mullet Bay". On the return trip, look for a shuttle to say "PBurg" and that will take you back into town. Mullet Bay is one of my favourite beaches. The water is so clear and calm. Its about 20 min from downtown. The drive there is very scenic. In the afternoon we went shopping downtown. Front Street has all the jewellery shops and Back Street has clothes, shoes, handbags etc. There are beaches right beside the pier on either side where the water taxi drops you off, there were people swimming there as well.
St. Croix - on the advice on CC, we got into a shuttle paid $6 return and went to Sandcastle Beach Resort. When you walk down the pier, look for a sign that says "Fredricksted shuttle". Its a big blue sign. There is a man there selling tickets for the shuttle. I saw some people walking there on the boardwalk but we didn't want to walk in the hot sun. It was a nice day. Lots of people came there from the ship. You can see the Serenade from the beach. The area around the port was ok but looked run down past the first street where the vendors were. Not much shopping here at all. There is a beach to the left of the pier, but its a small area. I saw a few people swimming there.
When you get the islands, negotiate! Especially for island cab tours, or when buying items from the vendors. We found it cheaper to get a tour when we get to the islands and negotiate rather than booking ahead of time. Everyone expects tips so bring small bills with you. A polite "No Thank you" will serve you well because as soon as you get off the ship everyone wants to sell you something!
Overall: We had a great time on Serenade of the Seas. The staff was so helpful and friendly, the food was amazing and the ship was in beautiful condition. Would definitely go on Serenade again!