This review is actually for 3 B2B cruises on Serenade of the Seas (Aug 13 - Sep 13), Baltic, Norway, and 16 day TA (stops in Norway and Iceland). We had been on Serenade before, and although it isn't our favorite ship, we chose it ... Read More
This review is actually for 3 B2B cruises on Serenade of the Seas (Aug 13 - Sep 13), Baltic, Norway, and 16 day TA (stops in Norway and Iceland). We had been on Serenade before, and although it isn't our favorite ship, we chose it for the itineraries. Anyone doing B2B cruises should be aware that you get repeated menus and entertainment. Embarking in Copenhagen started off with RC not being able to find our reservation. We had to wait quite awhile as they researched it, had to print our seapass cards, etc, etc. Got on board and our seapass didn't work at all. And then our internet code wasn't valid. We are Diamond members and none of our benefits were loaded on our seapass card. So after several trips to Guest Services (long lines!), we finally got settled. My husband likes everything in order before he can relax.
We thought that MOST of the public areas of the ship were quite clean except all the windows were very dirty. I realize you can't keep the outside clean when sailing, but this dirt was on the inside. Park Café needed a good cleaning, there was always food on the floor and window sills. In our cabin, the sofa was old and soiled. Cabinetry was well worn, balcony dirty. There's good storage, but hangars are too wide for the closet, and the hangars have to hang at an angle. As for the staff, we liked the cruise director and activities staff. They worked very hard. Our room attendant was the worst we have ever had. I could write a long review on just our encounters with her. We had to ask for soap, tissues, two washcloths, ice, and robes. She gave us those things begrudgingly, or so it seemed to me. I asked if there was additional padding for the bed, and she rolled up our mattress pad, put the entire thing under my side of the bed (hubby had no mattress pad under his sheet), and then she laid pillows on top of that, and then the sheet over that. My side was at least a foot higher than his. I thought it was a "snotty" response to a simple request. She never introduced herself, never called us by name until the 28th day, always unhappy, complained of back pain and being tired. I avoided her as much as possible; she just made me feel uncomfortable.
The shops were constantly having those "junk" sales. And they had tables set up in the small hallways outside the shops, which was a terrible bottle-neck when everyone was trying to get to the theater. You just could not get through. So annoying.
Most of the wait staff in the MDR we encountered were very good, except Leslie, who was our head waiter on the 3rd cruise. Sour disposition, never looked at you, repeatedly ignored requests. But we always had great dinner companions, so that made up for it. The food was a mixed bag, some very good, some awful. Hubby sent his back more than once because it was cold. The MDR is very crowded. I got so tired of waiters bumping my chair, causing me to spill my drink. Annoying!! The windjammer is never my favorite on any ship. Too much curry!! But I loved the fruit and salad bar. And great bread choices, too. The only milk cartons they had were the "sippy cup" type for kids with the straw. Hard to pour on cereal. Food in Park Café was not very good in my opinion, and the staff was just plain lazy. We went there for breakfast one morning at about 9:30, there was no coffee, no orange juice, no hot water, and the only thing available to eat was pre-made "mcmuffin" type sandwiches. Two manager type employees were just standing by the coffee pots chatting, and I had to ask them to move so I could get a cup (then no coffee). Gal behind the counter was not a happy camper. I asked her if she liked working on the ship, and she shrugged her shoulders.
Main pool was closed most of the time. Weather was cooler, so I could understand. So they let all the kids in the Solarium. Was supposed to be limited hrs for kids, but they never enforced it. And they let kids in diapers in the solarium pool, too. They basically took over the entire solarium and hot tub. Cruises 2 and 3 had less children, so not as big a problem.
On the first cruise there were so many kids all over the ship. The MDR was just a zoo with children running around, climbing on chairs, causing a lot of disruption. And windjammer was total chaos. When we were in our cabin, we could hear children crying, and running up and down the halls on our deck, and decks above and below us until early morning hours. I adore children, but there seemed to be a total lack of discipline on this ship.
Entertainment was a mixed bag. Absolutely loved the pianist, the violin player, the comediennes, and the flute player. Loved having their repeat performances in the afternoons on sea days. Just fantastic. The mime and the juggler were entertaining, too. Production shows weren't that good, I've seen better at high school performances. We skipped these repetitive shows (and others that were repeated) on cruises 2 and 3, so really got short-changed on the entertainment. We had to go to performances at least 1/2 hour to an hour early, or we wouldn't get a seat. Everyone went to the headliner shows, and many people were turned away. Once we had to stand the entire performance as there were no seats.
We booked our shore excursions through the ship and they all were great. Expensive, tho. My only complaint is they way they distributed the bus numbers in the theater was very, very unorganized. All three cruises had a majority of very elderly and disabled people, and they had to walk down the stairs to the front of the theater to get their stickers. Very difficult for many of them. There were a lot of extremely obese people on our excursions. They had trouble getting on and off the bus, and could not get around without assistance. I'm not sure why they would sign up for a tour that clearly states it was not "accessible", or there were 750 steps, and must be able to walk more than a mile over cobblestones. But there were always several on the bus, and it did delay us several times. This probably sounds insensitive, and it's not meant to be. RC just needs to make sure that people are able to participate on the tours they choose.
Casino is still a smoking area. And on port days, when they are refueling, that's where they tell people to go to smoke. I could smell smoke in other areas of the ship many times. RC, please make casinos non-smoking. Your "cover-up" spray smells worse than the smoke.
There were some enrichment seminars on sea days and the ones we attended were excellent. Especially liked the ones about the Vikings and the northern lights.
TV has very, very limited offerings, and shows are just repeated over and over. Movies were repeated on each cruise. Imagine showing "Angry Birds" for the kids on the outdoor screen by the pool on a sea day when we are above the arctic circle. It was cold and the wind was just howling. Good grief.
Our diamond status got us very little benefit except for the evening happy hour, which really was nice. But no gifts or amenities at all. No priority boarding or disembarking, no exclusive breakfast or coffee throughout the day. These are all being eliminated -- apparently. We did get $10 off laundry, but only after asking when we saw we were billed incorrectly. They also charged us for drinks during happy hour. We complained at guest services, they said they would reimburse, but never did. Being diamond would not be a reason to book RC in the future.
They staff was constantly doing drills on the TA cruise. Apparently they had a big inspection coming up when in port in Boston.
Finally, we loved the itinerary, loved every port, our favorite being Geiranger, Norway. Disappointed that they chose to eliminate Stockholm at the last minute. Supposedly because of weather.
We will not sail on Serenade again. Read Less