Let me say first off that the Serenade of the Seas is a beautiful ship. The crew was as good as any that I've ever sailed with.
The Serenade's mechanical workings are showing signs of age in that the air conditioning wasn't working in cabin 9046 for 12 hours or until I said something about it. The toilet stopped working for a short time one day until I said something about it also. Ceiling light covers missing, a intercom volume not operational were things that didn't impact the trip but were things I haven't seen on older Holland America ships.
The bathrooms on HAL ships are 2 to 3 times larger for the same cabin categories. Wood decks are absent on the Serenade and the wood that they did have is in need of care. HAL loves their wood and it shows.
None of these things I've mentioned are things that would keep me from cruising with Royal Caribbean again. However, the kids numbers and how they are managed by parents and crew would. My thinking about whether or not to spend a lot of money on a vacation with a budget cruise line has changed.
As a teacher my life is about kids and the parents. What I confirmed on this last trip is that I would prefer to spend a vacation away from kids running uncontrolled through the main dining room every night, and sliding down the stair railings. There are kids on HAL but not in the same numbers, and the one's there are, with exception for older teens, seldom seen being occupied by HAL staff.
The biggest problem with HAL is they seldom have a ship in the part of world that I'm interested in and at the time of year I can travel.