As most know, Serenade is headed for the Mediterranean in April, so she is in her last few laps of the Caribbean for awhile. As well, she is slated for some refitting later in the year. The ship itself is showing her age and use. We were in JS 1100 at the aft of the ship. A very nice cabin with a large balcony. The bath door had been damaged and it appeared they had simply taped over the damaged area below the door handle. The balcony furniture was VERY worn and soiled and in need of replacement. Paint residue was all over the glass below the deck railing, carpet was worn etc. I found two of the treadmills in the fitness center to be non-functioning, and actually fewer pieces of equipment than on our last visit 2 or 3 years ago. Towels and other necessities showed a lot of age. Our cabin attendant was super. Always cheerful and ready to provide whatever service was necessary or wanted.
The food in the Windjammer was bland and tasteless for the most part. Most mornings found a Turkey breast at the carving station. I am probably showing my ignorance, but when did turkey breast become a staple at breakfast? The food and choices here were simply uninspiring. It would be nice to be able to say that the Main Dining Room saved the day with dinner choices, but that was not the case. We have cruised with RCL for the last 7 years, and for the most part, the dinner menu is unchanged. Perhaps one new item was added each evening, but that was almost always a Vitality meal. The portion sizes were smaller, which was a plus for us, perhaps not for others. We know it would be a huge undertaking to revamp the menu's, but it does appear change is necessary. Portofino was excellent as always, as was the wait staff. They are always attentive and helpful, which is much appreciated.
The ship was well kept and clean, and of course we had the ever present warnings and hand sanitation for the norovirus. The crew was, on the whole, excellent and we found most to be cheerful and helpful.
Alas, the entertainment was not up to par, they had 4 different comedy acts, which in itself would not have been too bad, had they all been funny. That was not the case. A few of them simply went thru the motions and gave the impression that the venue was beneath them. Sad but true.
We had one bad excursion experience in Roseau, Dominica. We went tubing and to a waterfalls. Unfortunately there was NOTHING in the literature about the 1 hour and 40 minute bus ride to the river and another hour and 40 minutes back. The tubing itself was great, the bus ride was terrible. Always check when possible to see how much time you will spend traveling to and from the location. We did not and suffered the consequences,
The weather was GREAT! Could not have asked for more. Sun and 80's every day. The boarding and departure were a piece of cake. The more we sail the better we get at it I suppose. Perhaps I am coming across as the ugly American here, but RCL is the one that has set the standards in the past. When they fail to meet the standard they establish it does call for some honesty..
This was not a deal breaker for us with RCL. We have booked for next year with them. Our previous adventures on Serenade had just been exceptional and it was difficult when the inevitable comparisons are made. I must say, they did a superb job with kid / young adult control. This was "spring break" (as if any cruise from January to May isn't), so the boat was absolutely loaded with youngsters. For the most part they were well behaved and orderly (thanks parents!!).
Sad to see our old friend sailing to Europe. We hope the refit is a rejuvenating event, and that she will live up to her high standards.