My boyfriend and I have each been on four cruises...one with Carnival, one on RCI's Adventure of the Seas, one on Freedom of the Seas, and this most recent one on Serenade of the Seas. This was my least favorite of the four.
Most of the staff were wonderful. Our waiter, Maya, was THE BEST!!! She was very friendly and seemed to truly want our dining experience to be top-notch. And the assitant waiter, Ramon, was very attentive. Our room steward, Marta, was great, and most of the staff we met was helpful and friendly.
The cruise director, Mark, was funny and did a good job of providing fun activities. However he did say that his wife is expecting a baby in May, and after he takes some parental leave he will be joinging Monarch of the Seas.
The itenerary was quite good. We joined the ship in St. Maarten. Having been there on two of our other cruises, we elected to spend three days there instead of boarding the ship on day one in San Juan. That meant we also missed the first stop, which was Tortola. The second stop was St. Maarten. The next day was St. Kitts, and then Dominica and Barbados. St. Kitts and Dominica were beautiful. We are not that fond of Barbados (we had been there on a prior cruise) and spent most of that day on the ship, enjoying the pool.
The desserts in the dining room were wonderfully delicious.
This ship is on the smaller side for RCI, and if you opt for My Time Dining, reservations are required. On Adventure and Freedom, we could just show up and get seated pretty quickly. On Serenade, we had to wait over a half an hour the first night we were on the ship and just showed up. On the second night, we made reservations but were five minutes late and we were "informed" (and I do mean "informed") that our table was given to someone else because the matre de thought we were not coming. Five minutes? Seriously? After that we made reservations and showed up a few minutes early to make sure we didn't end up in the buffet.
The matre de was inexcusably rude. This was the exception to our experience with the rest of the staff. He apologized the first night for our long wait, but the remaining nights he was abrupt and did not offer any apology for giving up our reservation after only five minutes on the second night. I am actually going to write a letter to RCI regarding this experience.
Main courses in the dining room were good, but not particularly memorable. Food in the buffet is decent, but predictable. We had fish and chips at the Seaview Cafe one afternoon. It was so-so. We had room service deliver our breakfast a couple of mornings, and it was quite good and the room service was on time.
The staff seemed overly busy. Especially in the dining room, they didn't have time to stop and talk. One of things we have enjoyed on prior cruises was talking to staff about where they are from. I realize that they are working, but on Serenade they seemed to be practically running.
There was a lot of cigarette smoking on this ship. I'm not sure if it is because it is a smaller ship or if there is some other reason, but the only place I ever smelled cigarette smoke on the other three cruises was in the casino. On Serenade there was a lot of smoke at the main pool and in most of the bars.
The dance club (the Vortex) was just a dance floor that was part of a bar. The two times we stopped in there wasn't any music really playing. They did have some live music and dancing in the Centrum, but it was too small for the more popular events and we felt very crowded there.
No Johnny Rockets :( Yes, we knew that when we booked the cruise, but we missed it anyway.
No skating rink :( We knew that when we booked the cruise as well, but it was missed non-the-less.
All-in-all, we will likely cruise again on Adventure of the Seas. Serenade was a bit boring after being on bigger ships, and the staff on Adventure was top-notch.