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Serenade of the Seas Nov 13, 2011 Sailing
In lieu of having a big birthday bash for the BIG 3-0, I decided to go on a cruise to celebrate. My boyfriend who had never been a cruise before was psyched about the whole deal. I have previoulsy traveled on the Radiance of Seas in 2003 and also travelled on Carinval Cruise lines.
Day of Embrakation: We left NYC and flew down to San Juan. We had pre-booked the airport transfers. We landed at 3pm. There was an RCI rep who was ready to escourt us to the bus that would transport us to the ship. They took our luggage on another truck that would then send the bags to the room later that day. The ride from the airport to the ship was less than 20 minutes. When I first saw the ship up close, it was grand as I imagined. Embarkation was a breeze. There was no wait in line. We showed our passports, set up the Seapass account and was heading to board the ship. Of course, there were staff memebrs trying to take your photo (one of a million they took during the week). We were walking into More
our stateroom a little after 4pm.
Our stateroom was 8124 (aft deluxe cabin with a balcony). The bathroom is as small as they described. The room was comfortable for the two of us. We dropped our carry-on luggage and heading to WindJammer to get a late lunch.
Windjammer had a variety of food, from the All-American burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, as well as the varity of hot dishes. We then decided to walk around the ship to explore a little. We had late seating dinner (8:30pm) so we went to the Reflections dining room to see where I table was going to located for the week. We were pleased that our travel agent was able to secure a 2-person table (#487 for us that was right by the window). Don't get me wrong, we have no problem being seated with others, but preferred for my birthday week to just be able to spend time alone while we dined. We opted out of the My-Time dining as we happy with just eating at 8:30pm. It was a little after 7pm and we decided to see if I luggage had arrived. We were so happy that the luggage was there and waiting for us. We were then introduced to our stateroom attendant (Sean St. John). He was very pleasant and answered any an all concerns I had for the week. We then changed our clothes for the casual dinner for the evening. Our waiter (Harshdeep) and asst. waiter (Jacqueline) gave us the best service for the entire week we were on the ship. Every night, the suggestion made on dinner selection never failed (and I can be a picky eatter at times). Jackie was very helpful and remember certain request, such as I preferred tea over coffee and wine selections.
There was one show that night at the Tropical Theatre. The comedian routine was rather dry and we chose to not see the other shows for the week for two reasons. They were at 7pm which was pre-dinner shows ans we wanted to used the extra hour to get a cat nap in before dinner and to not feel rush after coming back to the ship after being out all day.
The cruise director, Ricky from Jamaica, was very energetic and seems to really keep the crowd attention.
We ended each evening with taking a night stroll on the upper deck of the ship.OVERALL: the experience was very nice. The staff was amazing. From, the stateroom, attendant, to the dining staff, the cruise director staff, everyone was pleasant and warm. The stateroom was adequate since we spent little time in thee but it was big enough for the two of us. The ship was in good shape and did not look dated or run down. We continuously say the upkeep of the ship daily. Unless you have a food allergy there, is a wide variety and endless food. Glad I only gained 2lbs from this cruise lol. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Day 3: Antigua
we booked an excusion through the ship called the Black Swan which is a party boat cruise aka Booze Cruise. The excursion was not until 12:45 so we decied to have room service for breakfast. We ate the breakfast on the balcony. There were 2 other ship at the port this day but of course our ship was the largest and right in the middle of the two. We decided to see what trinkets we could get from market before we went on the excursion. I found a "handmade" shaker for my godson. I also used this time to use free wi-fi at the local casino.
Black Swan is supposed to be a pirate ship with snorkel and beach time. The crew was very nice although they lacked the creativity in having on Pirate costumes. So the boat stop in the middle of the ocean to allow you to walk the plank or jump off the swing rope. It was alot of fun. I am a pretty good swimmer so the deep waters did not intimidate me at all. We had to choose between going to the beach for an hour or going snorkeling. We chose to go snorkel but the water was so murky you could not see a thing. The tour guide apologized for not being able to see the underwater world. Now the party begins. You can try the Planter's Punch. It was tasty and after my second cup I was starting to really enjoy the music and start dancing. We did a conga line around the ship. Partied on the ship all the way back to the dock. This was a nice excursion for an open bar price. You can not book this excursion on your own.
The Head waiter had the staff sing "Happy Anniversary" because were were going to dining at Chops Grille the next day. Funny thing was that I was celebrating MY BIRTHDAY. We just laughed and smiled during the whole thing.
We ended up at the Vortex nightclub for the Motown hour. At the strike of midnight (my official birthday), the DJ changed the music and started playing my favorite line dance song (Wobble- YouTube for a demonstration). I didn't think they would have such a great variety but I definitely impressed.
Day 2: St. Croix. We had breakfast in the Windjammer by 9am. Wide varity for breakfast, including an omlette station.
Because I had did a little research about the ports, I decided to go to the public beach that was in walking distance from the port. In 5-10 minutes, we were at the beach. We brought 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella for $15. There was a beach bar and water sports there as well. There was just a few rocks at the shoreline of the beach but once you took a LARGE step over there, you felt nothing but stand and the water was clear. On the walk back to the ship, we stop by a few table vendors that were lined up right outside the port entrance and brought a few little trickets as souvenirs. We found out later, that K-mart was close buy and people were able to buy water and snacks for their stateroom.
I cannot tell you about the island itself as I was not interested in an island tour. People we met said the Cruzan rum factory was nice and was a little drive to the other side of the island.
We played Bingo on the cruise ship with Patricio, the Activities director from Brazil. Gigitty, Gigitty (inside joke on the cruise)
This was the 1st formal night. We decided to go to the reception to meet the captain and then take professional photos.
Dinner was exceptionally good as I had duck for my entree which was very flavorful and not greasy as I had before at other restaurants.
After dinner we decided to check out the casino. There was variety of slot machines and tables. My game of choice is the Roulette table. But I didn't have much luck. That was the only "donation" that I was giving to the casino for the rest of the week.
The Vortex nightclub was having an 80s theme music hour, so we decided to check it out. There is a revolving bar and the setup is really nice. Not sure what time the night club closes as we never stayed past 1am.
We decided to make this a beach day since it was our last port for the cruise. We had a late breakfast at 1030am. Once we left the port there was taxi dispatch he charged us $28 round trip for the two of us to go to Cockleshell Beach. It was a shared van which stayed at the beach and then brought us back. The chairs were $5 each. There was a beach bar and water sports. We had fun in the sun for 3 hours and then headed back to port. I used the free wifi at the local bar and picked up my trinkets from the souvenir store.
Overall, all the islands were the same to me as I wanted nice beaches with a bar and possible snorkeling. Zip lining was great in St. Lucia
The morning of my birthday, we decided to go to the WindJammer for breakfast. I had set up a zip lining excursion on our own (Treetop Adventures) that was scheduled to start at 9:30am. When we left the ship we were greeted by the tour company. There were 3 other couples from the ship with us. We met our open air safari jeep that would transport to the rain forest for zip lining. Our tour guide, Wayne, told us that we would also have guest who were staying on the island on this excursion. The group was a total of 18 but it did not feel crowded and the group immediately bonded. As we rode to the rain forest, Wayne took the time to tell us history about the island and pointed out the different fruit trees that were grown. When we got to Treetop, we were giving our equipment and giving a quick demonstration on how zip lining is performed. I would recommend to wear Bermuda shorts or capris as the harness can make short rise up and you may feel uncomfortable. I would recommend to wear sneakers to give you enough support because there are hills, inclines and stairs from each line you have to get on. You don't have to be in great shape to do this excursion. But it definitely was a form of exercise. We were able to do 12 zip lines ranging in different heights and speeds. Don't be alarmed, if you are roller coaster junkie as myself, then this is not scary. It was amazing to zip lining and I could have gone for round 2! We then went to the waterfall for a quick dip. I would recommend to have water shoes or crocs so that you can walk to the falls without hurting the bottom of your feet. Wayne even let the couple take photos with waterfall in the background. The picture looked amazing! Wayne took fresh cocoa from the tree so could taste it. A few people were skeptical but we all agreed it was tasty. Wayne then showed us the banana flower in the preliminary stages. That was amazing to see as I had never know bananas grew from a flower. The tour ended with us being dropped back to ship around 2:30pm. We stopped at the stores adjacent to the port for a few souvenirs and headed back to the ship.
The island road are very steep and narrow. We were standing up in our open air jeep and felt like we were on a roller coaster. I did like the natural beauty of the island.
We had dinner at Chops Grille. It was such a nice an romantic an intimate setting for my birthday. The shrimp cocktail put the main dining version to shame. I had the petite fillet mignon and creme brulee for dessert. The staff sang happy birthday and the entire restaurant joined in on the singing. We then went to the pool deck for the party under the stars with the cruise director and his staff. I love line dances and I learned a few news ones that night. A great way to celebrate my birthday.