“First time cruise -- great experience”
Cruise review of Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas

gbsand81 Serenade of the Seas 5 First time cruise -- great experience
gbsand81
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This was our first cruise (with three children, ages 18, 14, and 14), so despite our research we were somewhat unsure what to expect. To our delight, we had a wonderful week. Here are some specifics: Embarkation: Thirty minutes from the door of the taxi to being on the ship, and it seemed to to take even less time. Really quite painless. We were on the ship by 12:40 and room was available at 1:00. Two of our bags arrived by 2:00 but the other three bags didn't arrive until after 6:00 (for some unexplained reason), so dressing for dinner was problematic for our kids. Meals Despite an opening night snafu (see below), meals and service were absolutely superb, even by our admittedly high standards. We generally had breakfast and lunch in Windjammers and dinner in the dining room, although we occasionally had lunch outside at Seaview (you should do this). The one downside was our first night. We had reserved a table for 5 three months ago for the 6:00 seating, but when we arrived there were already people sitting at the table to which had been assigned. When we brought this up with the maitre-d, he replied that we were supposed to sit with this other family who were sitting at our table. There were two problems with this. First, we had expected a table for our family alone. (That seems like a reasonable expectation.) Second, even if we wanted to sit with the other family, there were not enough seats at the table. Clearly, they had screwed up but the maitre-d kept insisting that we "weren't happy with our table" as if it was our fault. He also said that there was no more room and that we would have to eat every night at 8:45. Only after we insisted on being seated did a table magically appear -- both for that night and for the rest of the week. Luckily, the somewhat officious attitude of the maitre-d was not repeated by the various waiters. They were absolutely wonderful. My wife and I ate at Chops one night and Portofino another night. Both restaurants were half-empty (we ate at 7:00). Service was great and food was fine, but not worth the extra $$ in our opinion. Excursions We booked four through RCI and they were a bit hit or miss. The Baths at Virgin Gorda was superb -- perfect first day. We then did the volcano hike on St Kitts. It poured rain, the hike (which was strenuous) was very muddy, and there wasn't much to see from the top. Not much fun. We went snorkeling in Dominica. The snorkeling was outstanding but the catamaran didn't have enough pairs of flippers (really??) and thus we only were in the water for 1 hour or a 3 1/2 hour excursion. The moral of the story: book carefully.Service Outstanding in every way. Nightlife We took in two shows (beautiful theater). One was a magician/comedian who was superb -- funny, clever, and a little edgy in a way that appealed to our teenagers. The other was an aging crooner who made his name singing the "Happy Days" theme song. He was pretty awful. The casino was fun and the bands downstairs were pretty good. Our teens all found a lot to do (and had late nights). Cabin We had two balcony staterooms on deck 10. Both were very quiet and perfectly fine in terms of size. We had considered a junior suite, but think we made the right choice saving money with these cabins. Overall This is a beautiful ship -- spacious without seeming to be overwhelming. So it was the perfect size for our first cruise. The week was a perfect balance between fun and relaxation.
Serenade of the Seas Cruises to the Southern Caribbean
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Cabin review: Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony

Port and Shore Excursions

Snorkeling
The snorkeling was SUPERB -- definitely do this. But this was a 3 1/2 hour excursion during which we spent only an hour in the water. Catamaran captain didn't seem to know what he was doing, as he took 5 passes at the pier before successfully docking. Also, they forgot to bring enough pairs of flippers for everyone on board. (Who does that??) So that's why we were delayed getting into the water. But once we were in, the snorkeling was great
Mount Liamuiga Volcano
It poured rain (I guess that's why they call it a rain forest...) and there wasn't much to see at the top. Lots of mud and very slippery. It's a VERY steep hike (some on hands and knees) and I would wear hiking shoes if possible. Nice drive out to the volcano -- lots of nice views of old sugar plantations.
Port
We did the Baths excursion here to Virgin Gorda -- a great way to spend 1/2 a day. Nice (but small) beach and fun crawling around the caves. Nice boat trip from Tortola to Virgin Gorda.
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Published 03/18/12
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Serenade of the Seas Cruises to the Southern Caribbean
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