Serenade of the Seas January 28 2012 Southern Caribbean
We booked our cruise through Royal Caribbean directly. This was our fifth RCL sailing so we were still Gold Crown and Anchor Members. We live in Central Florida and wanted to do the Southern Caribbean in hopes of nice warm weather. We booked our flight to San Juan through RCL and they flew us via Air Tran from Orlando. We had six other family members fly in from all over the US. Our flight departed at 8am on time and we were on the ground in San Juan by 11:30am (San Juan time). Only complaint with Air Tran is the $20 per checked bag each way. We took a taxi from San Juan Airport to the pier. Takes about 20 minutes. The fare was $22.50 for two adults with two pieces of luggage. The RCL shuttle cost is $34 for two. There was a short line at the pier to check your luggage but was at the check in counter in no time. About 5 minutes to get your Set Sail Pass and we were headed onto the ship. They do allow you to purchase water and soda at the terminal and we did. Two cases of soda and a case of bottled water came to $23.00 but was well worth it. We went onboard and it was too early to occupy the staterooms, but they did let us drop off the soda and water. Then it was off to the Windjammer for the buffet. The Windjammer is fine for a quick lunch. Typical cruise buffet. Our room was ready by 1:00pm. We had our stateroom attendant Rosa empty the fridge for us. Rosa was the best attendant we have ever had on any cruise line. We tipped her extra several times and she was just awesome, making sure we weren't disturbed and had ice constantly freshened. We booked an inside standard cabin. We spend very little time in our room, so we never upgrade. We ordered breakfast most mornings from Room Service. They were great and always call before they deliver so its an added wake up call. Omelets are available in the Windjammer and the Main Dining Room (MDR) also. We had breakfast the last two mornings in the MDR. We arranged for Second Seating Dinner at 8:30pm. Our waiter Ravi was terrific. The food was good but seemed to have slipped down a notch from our last voyage on the Serenade in October 2010. All in all no major complaints with the food. Make sure you check out the Seaview Cafe on Deck 12 for lunch or an evening snack. Excellent Cuban and Reuben sandwiches, fries and Onion Rings. No extra charge to eat there either!
We are drinkers so we sampled many of their offerings. Each evening we would meet at The Pit Stop bar next to the Casino. Eugene from St. Lucia was awesome with his service. For you beer drinkers, I recommend the 20 ounce draft beer for $4.25 a glass. Twelve ounce bottles are the same price so you are getting a much better value with the draft. There were no beer bucket specials on this sailing.
Entertainment was pretty typical. The comedians were excellent. We passed on the Royal singers and dancers. Now for the islands. This cruise is port intensive visiting five ports in addition to San Juan. See my review of each port below.The final day of our cruise was a sea day and the weather was glorious. Sister-in-law won $1000, and brother in law $400. I wasn't luck this cruise except that everything was relaxing and filled with fun and adventure. Can't wait to book our next cruise!
A word of advice: Pack your liquor in your checked luggage, you can't carry it on the plane unless you buy it at the airport duty free shops. Also, make sure you go through the USDA inspection before you try to check in with your airline.