Sail Date: July 2019
We booked this Baltic Sea cruise because of the itinerary, especially because it spent 3 days in St. Petersburg and included a stop in Riga, Latvia (other cruise lines did not stop here). Having been on many cruises, on other cruise ... Read More
We booked this Baltic Sea cruise because of the itinerary, especially because it spent 3 days in St. Petersburg and included a stop in Riga, Latvia (other cruise lines did not stop here). Having been on many cruises, on other cruise lines, here's my impression about RCCL Serenade of the Seas: Check-in and embarkation is a breeze providing you have done all of the registration online and printed your Sea Pass prior to boarding. RCCL wants you to use their mobile app for many things, like setting up your profile and account, booking activities and restaurants, etc. The problem is the app doesn't work well and can be frustrating to use. Within the first hour of boarding, we were approached no less than 6 times about purchasing either one of the dining packages or the beverage package. We did end up purchasing the 5-dinner package, which allowed us to dine in the 3 specialty restaurants. During the cruise we were also told we could use one of our dinners for the Champagne Brunch and Galley Tour on the one sea day, which we did (it was very nice). Booking the specialty restaurants in advance is more expensive than waiting until you get on board, so wait. These restaurants were never full for the times we ate there so booking onboard should not be a problem. The specialty restaurants are Chop Grille, specializing in steaks. We ate here twice and had good steaks both times. If you don't have the dining package, the supplemental fee for this restaurant is $39.99 plus 18% gratuity. With the dining package we also got 40% discount on a bottle of wine. The second specialty restaurant is Izumi, the Japanese restaurant where everything is charged a la carte. We had not been told beforehand that we each had a $35 limit to choose from with our dining package. We may not have eaten here if we'd known that. The food was good, not remarkable, sushi, sashimi, typical Japanese offerings. The third specialty restaurant is Italian, Giovanni's. We had our best meal on the ship in this restaurant. The Osso Bucco was fantastic. The only downside is that there are no sommeliers on the ship and our waiter knew less about wine than I did. We ended up with an OK wine but it could have been better. Also, the restaurant insists on piping in music but right outside the always open doors is the piano bar of the Schooner lounge. So we kept getting a disparate musical background of lounge piano and Italian-themed music. We finally asked the maitre'd to lower the volume of the restaurant music so we could enjoy the piano music, which he did. Food in the main dining room is OK, not great. Our wait staff, however, was excellent. We did the My Time dining but probably should have booked our dinners in advance as our preferred time slot was fully booked most days. As for ship excursions, we only used RCCL for the 3-day tour in St. Petersburg, which was excellent. We had been warned by friends that those people on a ship excursion get to disembark first, and independent travelers or those on other tours disembarked afterwards. You must obtain a Russian visa if you are not on a ship's excursion and want to get off the ship. Our friends had gone the independent route and waited a long time in the passport line to exit. We had also booked the shuttle bus in the Warnemunde port stop to take us to/from Berlin (a 3-1/2 hour bus ride EACH WAY). We got a call the day before that the shuttle bus was cancelled because not enough people signed up for it, so we ended up not going into Berlin. At most of the ports of call (Helsinki, Riga, Tallin, Visby, Fredericia) you can walk into town from the cruise terminal. In Stockholm it would have been a very long walk, but there is a public bus that gets you from the cruise terminal area into town and back. For Copenhagen, you need transportation into the city. There is a public bus that goes from the cruise terminal into town but it only stops at the cruise port twice an hour. Depending on your interests, you may not need to book any ship's excursions in Riga, Tallin, Visby or Fredericia. All of these are smaller towns, easily walking distance from the ship, and easy to explore on your own, or look up free walking tours online before you go. The free tours operate on donations (tips) and are well worth it. Serenade of the Seas insists on doing almost everything in The Centrum, the atrium area at the center of the ship. On the main deck it has a small dance floor and most of the music for dancing was held here. The problem is that there are not enough chairs for everyone. The atrium is open all the way up to the 9th or 10th floor and there are seats on other levels that allow you to listen to music (but not dance). If you are sitting on the same level as the Casino, you will get cigarette smoke smell, since smoking is allowed in the Casino. Interestingly enough, there is a large dance floor with lots of seating in the aft of the ship called The Safari Club, but it was never used for music/dancing. No idea why. Overall, we're glad we went on this cruise because of the ports of call. Would I go on another RCCL cruise? Probably not. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
First let me say that my wife and I are not active cruisers, having taken fewer than 8 in our 50 years together. We prefer to plan our own trips and see things on our own. We chose the Baltic cruise on RCI because of the 3 days in St. ... Read More
First let me say that my wife and I are not active cruisers, having taken fewer than 8 in our 50 years together. We prefer to plan our own trips and see things on our own. We chose the Baltic cruise on RCI because of the 3 days in St. Petersburg and we didn't want to try Russia on our own. It was a mistake we will not make again. If we ever cruise again, it will not be with RCI. Embarkation was smooth and painless thanks to the pre-cruise checkin process offered on the RCI website. The food and service on Serenade of the Seas were good. The food in the Windjammer was plentiful but if you dine there every breakfast, lunch and some dinners, it becomes somewhat repetitive and is often quite crowded. All the staff that we came into contact with were very friendly and helpful. The entertainment was acceptable but not exceptional. The ABBA show was very nice, but some of the entertainers in the Centrum were boring. The cabin facilities were nice but somewhat tired, especially the carpet and sofa and the in-room amenities were non-existent. Having said all of this, the cruise would have been enjoyable if not for the way Royal Caribbean operates. Everything is designed to sell, sell, sell. They start trying to upsell you the moment you step on the ship with upgraded meal packages, drink packages, photos, excursions, etc. The price for internet service was especially outrageous. Over $26/day for a single device. Very annoying. As for the ports of call, it seems that they berth the ship as far away from town as they can to encourage passengers to book their overpriced excursions. They provide very little information on where the ship is berthed or what transportation options there are to reach town. There were no port briefings on things to see so if you don't take their excursions you have little idea of what is available. If you don't want to use RCI's excursions at each stop you must do a little research prior to your trip. Try to find out where the ship will be berthed in each port and what types of public transportation is available. The daily tip sheet provided to the staterooms provided very little information. If you wish to explore on your, you must plan ahead. Before you leave home, print out a map of each town you will visit and decide what sites you wish to see. If you decide you don't want to do this and let RCI do it for you, that's your choice of course, but be prepared to travel with bus-loads of fellow cruisers and to pay RCI's exorbitent excursion prices. Prior to our departure we used the internet to pre-book our excursions in St. Petersburg and Warnemunde for far less money and with far fewer passengers. For the other ports we used the public bus system, taxis or our feet to get around. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We’d booked the Mediterranean cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas & wanted to try out the Baltic & Russia cruise with Royal Caribbean. We found the ship smaller but enjoyable but having been on the larger ship Freedom of the Seas ... Read More
We’d booked the Mediterranean cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas & wanted to try out the Baltic & Russia cruise with Royal Caribbean. We found the ship smaller but enjoyable but having been on the larger ship Freedom of the Seas it felt like a downgrade. No soda dispenser machine & awkward to be asking at a bar for soda top ups. Highlight was the cinema & the excellent movies. Hardly anyone ever went into the crown pub it was also awkward walking through casino to get to other places. Onboard entertainment in Tropical theatre was average. The one shore excursion we booked via RC wasn’t great. The independent tours we did book online were more superior. A charge of about €245 was taken from my account despite having paid a final statement of over €600. Waiting to get this back. Overall I’ll consider trying another cruise company or going on a bigger ship with more facilities Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We’re a family of six that had a most lovely time aboard the Serenade of the Seas for a 7 night voyage across the Baltic Sea. Our trip began with a little bit of conflict as one of our suitcases did not make it to Stockholm. Onboard ... Read More
We’re a family of six that had a most lovely time aboard the Serenade of the Seas for a 7 night voyage across the Baltic Sea. Our trip began with a little bit of conflict as one of our suitcases did not make it to Stockholm. Onboard the Serenade, Jasmine was most helpful by calling us every day, several times a day, to tell us of the latest whereabouts of the bag. She really went above and beyond and by the time we made it to Helsinki we were supremely confident that the bag would be there as Jasmine had shown her extreme dedication to the process! This was only the start to what was what we all unanimously agreed the best service that we’ve ever had on a cruise ever (and we’ve been on plenty!). Immediately we noticed that we had a very jovial crew. This continued throughout the entire stay with absolutely outstanding service throughout. Our waitstaff for the majority of the nights was a team of Kelly/Lissandro and they were beyond phenomenal. We ate at the main dining room every night and they were exemplary. We never had a dry glass or an empty plate. Lissandro we all joked was like Linus from How I Met Your Mother (a reference that I’m not sure how many people here will get, but I can assure you is the highest of high compliments!) and Kelly was the most well-versed on the menu server we’ve ever had in addition to being wonderfully attentive and patient. On one night the maître d (whose name escapes me sadly but was also excellent) sat us with TingTing and Samsul who were also outstanding. We apparently made an impression because every night after that TingTing/Samsul greeted us all by name. Additionally, this was the cruise where by far the staff also knew us all by name. Koko (a drink specialist) learned our names on the very first day and we saw him throughout the vacation and he was always outstanding. Aaron the pool bar bartender was also phenomenal! He made us an inhuman amount of Kracken Coladas (which I couldn’t recommend more!) and by the end of the second day he had both memorized our names, room numbers, and our orders. Franklin was our very first bartender onboard and we saw him throughout and the interactions were always warm and wonderful. We saw him both in port and in the other bars and he greeted us every single time! Ashford (I believe his name was, unfortunately there were so many great people that a few of the names escape me!) was another great bartender that we really enjoyed. Beyond the service, the food was also the best we’d ever had on a cruise. Specifically, dinner every single night was incredible. We never had a single complaint on any appetizer/entrée/dessert. In particular, the entrée choices every night were outstanding and I can’t remember a cruise where I had so many amazing dessert choices every night (NOT good for those of us that are dieting back at home, but some things are just more important than that!) I do wish that there was more late night eats/drinks on the cruise. The ship does stop serving alcohol at 2 am. Probably not an issue for most (particularly this cruise wasn’t exactly a frat/sorority getaway) but the fact that there wasn’t an easy burger/fries/pizza location was a bit of a bummer (again, not a college kid getaway). We did get room service one night and I can say that the grilled cheese/fries I ordered were quite good! The ports were also great as well. It’s amazing that for a vacation that we picked with the ports in mind that the service/food we had onboard was the thing we’ve talked about the most, but in truth, it was THAT good. St Petersburg, Russia lives up to all the hype. It’s a little surreal to be in Russia and to be sure, it confirms a lot of the stereotypes. We did Alla Tours and we did the Must See Tour, thinking it might be a little less extreme than the Grand Tour. While The Comfort Tour is supposedly the more laid-back version, the Must See Tour was still extremely taxing on us. We got to see A LOT (and Polina, our tour guide was incredible) but we came back to the ship both days (2 day tour) absolutely wiped. 4/6 of us collapsed for a nap upon arrival both days and that’s the younger part of our group! To be clear, you see a TON on Alla Tours. We saw the museums and the palaces and did the canal boat cruise. Polina, our tour guide, has apparently been doing tours for 10 years but she had all the enthusiasm and happiness of someone on their first day (while being as well-versed as someone that’s been doing it for 10 years). Just amazing that anyone could have that much enthusiasm for anything but she absolutely did. The one knock that I will say on Alla Tours is that we found the lunches to be lacking to put it kindly. Both days were “restaurant lunches” and for $230 for two days with lunches included we thought we were getting a steal but in actuality we were sort of getting what we paid for. Chicken kiev the first day and beef stroganoff the second day at two different restaurants were very uninspiring choices. One member of our group was essentially knocked out of commission due to an upset stomach after both. Not sure how much Alla Tours can do about the lunch choices but we were underwhelmed on that front. For Helsinki we also stuck with Alla Tours (they gave us a discount on our tour there because we had done the one in Russia). The first part of the tour we absolutely loved. The downtown part of Helsinki was great, the city is beautiful and the tour guide was great fun. Then, speaking of underwhelming, was the second part of the tour, Seurasaari, the open air museum. For two hours we walked around an old campground area. Interesting enough for some people, I guess, but for those of us that had never been to Finland (all of us) we really felt like we could’ve easily spent the time in downtown Helsinki. Tallinn we did more on our own (it’s a little walk from port to downtown but nowhere near bad of a walk as Helsinki/St Petersburg are from downtown). We did do a KGB Tour at the Hotel Viru which was very interesting (and it also had the best view from the 23rd floor of anywhere). We probably should’ve allotted ourselves some more time in Tallinn; the old town area was beautiful, and there was plenty to do in the way of exploring/shopping/bar hopping/eating through town that could be very fun/doable for a family. As aforementioned though, we were kind of just wiped from the previous three days worth of tours! After hearing that Visby was the “throwaway port” (and we’ve seen some throwaway ports in our day! Sydney, in Canada, NOT Australia! Is the gold standard in “throwaway ports) I booked us a “Free Tour” that I found on TripAdvisor with Aiden and I could not possibly recommend that more. It was short and sweet (1.5 hours) and he gave a comprehensive overview of the island/town/his life which were all fascinating. The tour was free (entirely on tips) and we tipped him handsomely because he really made our day. As much as we loved Polina, Aiden was a tour guide that really made the port for us and really put a nice capper on the trip. After returning to Stockholm, we all agreed that we were a bit burnt out on doing “tours” in the traditional sense. Our group split up amongst ourselves. We stayed at the Hilton Stockholm Slussen which is a nice place to keep you close to Old Town and the like. We tend to be rather fatigued at the end of trips, so we didn’t push ourselves too hard, so no real recommendations on Stockholm. We went right directly from airport to ship to begin the journey, so we had not seen the city at all on the way in. It was a wonderful trip, and for a family that’s been on many, we do absolutely have to say that it stood out in so many ways, for so many reasons, some of them not expected! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
Chose this ship because it was going where we wanted to at the time we wanted to at a price that we wanted. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, except that we were given the impression that you had to check your luggage on ... Read More
Chose this ship because it was going where we wanted to at the time we wanted to at a price that we wanted. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, except that we were given the impression that you had to check your luggage on boarding but we saw people who carried their own luggage on, which I would have preferred to do since we only had carry-on bags. The first day onboard you must attend a safety drill, which was not done well, they had us standing inside a hall near a bar, it was hot and they had us standing for over a half hour without any information or instruction, when they finally did give us info it was very sparse and took about 5 minutes. Awful! Finding where you were to go for certain things such as safety drill, disembarking on a daily basis, etc were not clear, the announcements were not always loud or clear enough and there was no signage on the decks to direct you. The food was very good, I was impressed with the quality and choices in the buffet, though we had dinner in the main dining room every night except one. The main dining room was lovely, our waiter (Francis) and assistant (Michael) were very attentive and personable. I felt the entertainment was just okay, no high end shows, etc. The Duo ArtMotion, Moroshka, and Tap Factory shows were very good. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, Serge Massot and Roger Wright left a lot to be desired. In general I found the ship clean and neat but "tired", in need of updating, refurbishing and maintenance. Loved all the ports, but didn't do any of the ships excursions. Did a local tour in St. Petersburg with TJ Travel which gave us a discount for being a Cruise Critic member which was wonderful. Otherwise we explored on our own in the other ports and was happy that we did. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We've been cruising with Disney before RC, and even considering the fact that Disney is much more expensive, it left us with a feeling that it was much better, especially in the food, entertainment, and general feel ( there were 2 big ... Read More
We've been cruising with Disney before RC, and even considering the fact that Disney is much more expensive, it left us with a feeling that it was much better, especially in the food, entertainment, and general feel ( there were 2 big spots of rust in the indoor pool on Serenade). Even the free food court (near the pools) in the Disney Dream was much better. What I found most irritating the design of the beds, that for some reason are half arched toward their end, so if you are a tall person like myself ( 1.92 meters) , if you sleep with legs stretched, you ankles will be outside the bed. I was told it is the same in all RC ships, and it was not comfortable at all. The RC app is a very good idea - too bad it doesn't always work in the real world and needed many restarts during the day. We tried specialty drinks ( 1 coffee, 1 alcoholic and one mocktail) , the mocktail was good but the other terrible especially for the price of 12$ before 18% tip. Quality of food in main dining room - 7/10 Main dining room service 10/10 Quality of food in Windjammer (buffet) 7/10 Service at Windjammer 9/10 The specialty restaurants (extra charge) Chops Grille (American, Meat) Giovanni's Table (Italian) 10/10 If you get a discount, you should try these. The food is noticeably better than in the main dining hall. Breakfast in Windjammer - tends to be very very busy, and it takes some times to find a place to seat. Guest services staff 10/10 Service was terrific! All staff members tried to help and find solutions, smiling, positive. Service - We got Alemao and Dehiby as waiters in the main dining hall, and Ikomang as room attendant. They were all excellent 10/10 and we gave them an extra tip. Staterooms - very clean, but design feels outdated (and uncomfortable as mentioned) Entertainment - 8/10 Daytime Activities (Rock Climbing Wall, Mini Golf, Dance Classes, Pool Side Events, Contests, Enrichment Classes, Lectures,etc.) 7/10 Arcade - very small arcade, with around 20 machines. It was deserted when I visited it during rainy days, and it was July (many kids on board) General : * I wish they would state the names of the cruise piers in each destination in advance, as it might lead to confusion when you tour by yourself. * The cruise felt like it was best for the adult crowd, less for families with children. *Embarkation - Swift and easy. Leaving the ship on disembarkation was also a very fast process, while in Disney it took a long while. *Duty free or not, the shops on the ship changes the stock everyday, but the prices are pretty expensive. I saw there a Russian chocolate they sold for 7 Euros, found it was sold for 2 Euros in St.Petersburg. * The Itinerary is pretty good, since the cruise began and ended in Stockholm and that enabled us to visit the city for a total of 5 days. The stops in Tallinn, Visby and Helsinki were too short (last boarding time 15:30 to 17:00), but those city are much less to offer than Stockholm. St.Petersburg is a marvel - try to book a cruise that docks there at least 1 night (equals 2 days in the destination). Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
I choose this ship because the itinerary that was excellent, specially for the 3 day stop at St. Petersburg (Russia). The embarkation process was very smooth and quick, no more than 5 minutes to complete all process. The ship is ... Read More
I choose this ship because the itinerary that was excellent, specially for the 3 day stop at St. Petersburg (Russia). The embarkation process was very smooth and quick, no more than 5 minutes to complete all process. The ship is small and quite old but it doesn't seem old just not modern. The Ship has all what you need to expect from a RCI cruise, big atrium, pools, kids zone etc... In this trip I had 2 staterooms, one oceanview (7008) and one Balcony (8056). The cabins were normal, not big but also not very small, good for 2 or even 3 people. The bedding was nice and also the storage spaces. What I really dislike was that the only amenity Royal gives to customers in Oceanview and Balcony was a 1 in 3 Shampoo-Conditioner-Shower gel....even MSC or Celebrity gives 3 different bottles for different products! The food was ok, not specially good. The Windjammer Buffet Is ok but always the same food for a 10 day cruise is absurd. The main dinning room was also ok, the service was good and food also good. I purchase the unlimited specialty restaurants and was good because the food at Izumi, Giovannis and Chops is excellent but the ship is so small that paying the unlimited specialty restaurants is not worth it (just for Serenade), in other Royal ships you have more choices and it make sense. If you like Coffee...its horrible, even the speciality coffee. The worst thing about the entire cruise was the entertainment, the night shows were horrible, definitely Royal needs to upgrade the shows at smaller ships, the company concentrates a lot in larger ships but not in smaller. Overall, the service was good, the cabins are spacious but they have a lack on amenities. the ports of call were amazing. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Chose this cruise due to its unique ports of call and its timing with school holidays . We are aa family of 5 and booked two cabins one balcony and one internal cabin opposite each other. Ship appeared modern and well maintained, as its a ... Read More
Chose this cruise due to its unique ports of call and its timing with school holidays . We are aa family of 5 and booked two cabins one balcony and one internal cabin opposite each other. Ship appeared modern and well maintained, as its a smaller boat only additional activities offered are put put golf and rock climbing . Boarding was poor , we purchased the Key program which was meant to give preferred boarding but as we were unable to pre check in online (even after trying for weeks) we were given absolutely no preference at check in. In whole found The Key program disappointing with little preferential treatment. The cabins were extremely comfortable and gave the best sleep Ive had in long time- only tip is bring some tape to help with the block out curtains as the nights are very short. Plenty of storage space . Reflections restaurant service was stressed at busy times , Food quality was poor e.g. crab cakes using artificial crab sticks, prawn cocktail with no cocktail sauce. tried it twice then never ate there again. Preferred paying the extra to eat at the premium restaurants : Giovanni's and Chops Grille were excellent from both a food quality and service perspective although they could perhaps offer daily specials to add variety to the menu. The buffet restaurant was pretty good for breakfast and the occasional lunch if your still hungry. Gym was well fitted out but tended to be busy and not quite big enough . Even though the weather was cold the pool was warmed - probably about 22 deg C so cool but comfortable enough for a quick dip. Purchased the deluxe beverage package for myself which was well worth it especially with fresh juices at breakfast , coffee , bottled waters and open bar with some great cocktails- only point is the wines within the package weren't great and ended up paying extra for better quality wines . The kids didn't get any beverage package and it was fine. Bar options were good and never too crowded except maybe for Centrum. Kids club was great and kids spent most of the time there. We had a 2 yr old and left him a lot at the nursery where he was well looked after and reasonably priced. Entertainment on the boat was pretty average - went to a couple of shows and left early . Spent a few nights playing $5 blackjack in the casino and was a great way to meet fellow travelers. Staff extremely friendly and attentive throughout - except as noted during busy times in Reflections. Port of calls- Geiranger was amazing and if your fit enough get an ebike for assisted ride to enjoy the views . Tromso the most disappointing stop as we booked the huskies tour and on a 3 hr tour kids only got less than 20min with the huskies. Hannisverg just to walk around the town was nice, also good location to get an bike and head out for a ride for some great scenery and try and head over the mountain to the Cape ...I only made it halfway. Alesund, is a nice city just to walk around and explore. Flam is a really pretty town to walk around and the tour on Flam railway is the only tour of the trip we would recommend.Stavanger was pretty town but 3 cruise ships arrived at same time - did the Leyford cruise which was pretty boring with a lame lunch stop for waffles - would not recommend it - better to try a trip to Pulpit Rock. In all, apart from Flam railway the organized tours were disappointing. One of the good benefits of The Key program was the a la carte breakfast on the departure which was a relaxed way to finish the cruise. It was our first cruise and definitely enjoyed the experience and would do it again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to ... Read More
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to see more of that beautiful country. We flew into Stockholm after a lengthy trip from Orlando. Living in coastal Georgia, we normally fly out of Jacksonville, Florida, but the airfare from JAX was $600 per person higher for our trip than flying out of Orlando. That did involve driving 2.5 hours past Jacksonville and a night in a hotel prior to our flight to Europe. Sleep Inn & Suites - Orlando Airport We booked this hotel through park, sleep and fly. Some hotels offer parking for travelers that stay in a hotel prior to flying out for a vacation. There were not many choices and this was the best one available. The hotel itself looked clean enough and the rooms were spacious. The hotel was a bit old and worn, but acceptable. However, after checking in our room, we noticed that the air conditioner could only function on full blast. The room was about 60 degrees, so we turned off the AC. We never turned it on and didn’t have a problem. The breakfast was good, but checking in the hotel took way too long with only one front desk clerk. Our parking was on the side of the hotel past the paved area in an area of dirt and some trees. I parked in there and upon return from our trip, found that my car was blocked in by another vehicle. Since we returned at 2am, I had to drive over a curb. Fortunately, my vehicle was undamaged in the process. Still, the hotel did a very poor job in managing the parking. We will never stay in this hotel again. STOCKHOLM We had three flights to make it to Copenhagen, having to fly to Atlanta then Paris Charles de Gaulle and finally to Stockholm. We arrived about 12:30pm and made our way to the Flybussarna. There were nice busses every 10 minutes that took us into the city to the main rail station. Cost was a little more than $10 per person. From the rail station we took a taxi to our hotel. First Hotel Reisen We booked this hotel because of its great location and reasonable rates. The hotel was an older hotel, but clean and well maintained. The room was comfortable and a reasonable size. Air conditioning was not common for hotels in Stockholm, so we had an electric fan in the room that was effective. It was 30 degrees C when we first arrived, but the fan cooled our room just fine. The hotel had a nice restaurant, where we dined one evening and an excellent buffet breakfast. We would stay in the hotel again if we visited Stockholm again. After the long trip, we were tired and didn’t do any touring. We took a short nap and had dinner at the hotel, which gave us discount of about $10 since we were staying in the hotel. The meal was a Swedish seafood stew and excellent. The next day, we were very busy. We met a Free Walking Tour of the Old Town that was about two hours long. The tour guide was very good and we enjoyed the old city. We went back to visit the Royal Palace and Cathedral that was nearby. We passed the Nobel Museum, but decided to skip it. We found the ferry that took us close to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a huge 17th Century sailing ship launched with much pomp and ceremony that capsized and sunk after sailing about 200 meters. Vasa Museum The museum was amazing. The ship had been recovered from the harbor almost intact. The museum building was built around the huge ship. There were parts of the ship that had to replace rotten or damaged wood, but most of it was the original. There was an excellent film about the ship’s history and why it capsized. Other exhibits showed who worked on building the ship, including the role of women. Shipbuilders from Holland came to Stockholm for the King of Sweden. Several people died when the ship capsized. We learned that the design of the ship was flawed. It was top heavy and the hold was not large enough to support the needed ballast. We spent 2-3 hours in the museum. Upon returning to Gamla Stan, were our hotel was located, we walked around a little more and found a restaurant that proved to be just what we needed. Restaurant Kaffegillet i Gamla Stan AB We picked the Kaffegillet at random, after a full day of touring Stockholm. The restaurant was in the old city with seating inside and outside next to the street. We chose to dine inside. Everything we selected for our meal was great. The prices for the meal were reasonable, including the wine. We had reindeer for our appetizer and salmon for the main course. Everything was wonderful. The next day we had a five hour train ride to Copenhagen. I had book first class tickets for about $50 per person. The train was very nice. The first class car had only 3 seats across that were very spacious and comfortable. We enjoyed the green countryside of Southern Sweden on our way to Copenhagen. We arrived at the rail station at the Copenhagen Airport (closer to our hotel than the main rail station), took a taxi to the Crowne Plaza. Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers Hotel We stayed at the Crowne Plaza again for one night prior to our Norway cruise. The hotel was convenient to the airport and a nearby shopping mall. Rooms were spacious, modern and with all the amenities. Breakfast was not included with the room, but was excellent. The hotel's rates were very reasonable for Copenhagen. There was a concert at the new arena and the area was flooded with people going there. We had difficulty finding a place to eat at the nearby shopping mall due to the large crowds. We finally found a Mexican restaurant that we could eat. The food had only the faintest resemblance to Mexican food. In fact, the salsa tasted more like it was from India. The cooks appeared to be Indian. The next day we had a great breakfast at the Crowne Plaza and about noon we boarded a shuttle bus to the cruise port. The cruise terminal turned out to be the same one that we had used on our cruise from Copenhagen 5 1/2 years ago. SERENADE OF THE SEAS This cruise was our second on Royal Caribbean. We were elite on Celebrity and able to transfer our loyalty benefits to become Diamond on Royal Caribbean for our first cruise on Explorer of the Seas last year in a TransPacific cruise. Our Norway Arctic Circle cruise was cheap, since we had a huge credit from a cancelled cruise last year that was to go to New Zealand. Serenade of the Seas is one of the smaller ship in the large Royal fleet and we very much enjoyed our cruise. We are trending to Royal since Celebrity and NCL have significantly raised their cruse prices. New Checkin Procedure While still at home, I had gone through the check-in process and printed out a scalable sheet for Ginny and I. When we arrived at the port of embarkation in Copenhagen, we checked our luggage, then immediately a representative greeted us, scanned our sheets and passed us to board the ship. It all took a minute or two. She indicated that our key cards were in our cabin. We were amazed at how expedited the boarding process had become. When we arrived at our cabin, it was ready and our cards were in an envelope on the door. Dining We found dining in Serenade’s main dining room (MDR) was about on par with Celebrity’s MDR dining. The menu for Royal’s MDR has a bit fewer choices than on Celebrity, but everything we ordered was excellent. Service on Serenade was excellent. We dined about half of our meals in the MDR and for most had Julio as our head waiter. He was great and took good care of our needs. We did have the 3 meal dining package for specialty dining and enjoyed the Italian, Steak and Asian restaurants. All were excellent and the worst thing was that we tended to overeat more. We did dine at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, as well as twice for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were pretty good. The omelet station was great, but I missed the Celebrity Eggs Benedict station. For a few nights Serenade had an Eggs Benedict station, but when I ordered breakfast there twice, the eggs were cooked hard, pretty much eliminating the joy of having breakfast from there. The two dinners that we dined in the buffet, I was seriously disappointed in what I chose. The most disappointing items were the Moussaka and then the Lasagna. Both were nothing like the real thing. The Moussaka had no eggplant or meat. It was largely composed of potatoes. The Lasagna had no pasta and was mainly beef, with melted cheese on top. I tried other dishes in the evening and nothing was really that good. One night is settled for a burger that was about the best thing available. It was interesting, since at lunch, the buffet would usually have something that I liked. Entertainment The entertainment in Royal Caribbean is generally superior to Celebrity’s entertainment. We didn’t go to all the shows, but the shows that we attended were excellent. The production show singers were excellent. The top show that we saw was the fantastic violinist. She was originally from China, but I don’t remember her name. DIAMOND HAPPY HOUR Our happy hour was held in the Diamond Lounge, which was small on deck 13. It was always a bit crowded, but you could eventually find seats. Service was good and you could order three drinks outside that location, even when dining up until 8:30pm. It worked well for us, since I only paid for two drinks for the entire cruise (when I ordered drinks for us a bit after 8:30 in the MDR). Our cruise had six ports and they were filled with amazing scenery. Some ports were no more than small villages, others were medium sized or large cities. The farther north we progressed, the longer the days, until we had 2-3 nights when the sun did not set. We learned to sleep with a little light coming in around the sides of the curtains in our cabin. GEIRANGER Our first port was Geiranger and its fantastic fjord. We learned that a fjord is carved out of rock by glaciers that existed during the ice age. We saw a lot of fjords in Norway and the one in Geiranger was arguably the most impressive. We had a private tour booked with Norway Excursions. Our tour for Geiranger with Norwegian Excursions was cancelled while we were traveling. The company refunded our payment and put us on the Mt. Dalsnibba and Eagle Road tour at no charge. They were exceptional in all areas. Our guide, Anita was fantastic and the tour exceeded our expectations. Our bus found its way up the scenic slopes to Mt. Dilsnibba that was loaded with recent snow and awesomely beautiful. Also, returning to the port city, we took a shorter route up Eagle Road for more great scenery. This was one of the best tours that we took on our entire cruise to the North Cape. We also, enjoyed a great Norwegian Excursion tour in Alesund. Nearly all our tours involved riding in a small or large bus on mountain road that usually took us up for fantastic vistas. I think we were too busy enjoying the scenery to get sick riding up and down the mountains. Our departure from the small village port of Geiranger was memorable, since we passed through the wonderful fjord. A one point, when the ship arrived in front of an amazing waterfall, the ship stopped and did a complete 360. The maneuver was remarkable in the fjord channel. These modern ships can do a 360 and we have been on cruises that did this maneuver (one around Cape Horn and another in Glacier Bay, Alaska). The Captain must have known that no other ships were approaching us in the fjord, since passing us at that point would have been impossible. In any event, everyone was able to see the waterfall. TROMSO We were headed north and the next day passed the Arctic Circle. There was a ceremony for that called the Blue Nose. I watched a little of it on the pool deck, but it was cold and windy, so I didn’t stay for the entire ceremony. Some crew members had cold water poured down their necks and procured a blue nose. We saw some people around the ship with blue noses. I didn’t want one of those. All the passengers received a certificate from the Captain on having passed the Arctic Circle. The day after, we arrived in Tromso. This was the largest city in the north of Norway. Our tour was with Tromso Individuell. We booked this tour for Tromso over the internet and paid in full in advance. When we arrived at the quay after leaving our cruise ship, no one was there to greet us from the tour company. After looking at all the busses in the parking lot, we could not find our tour. I asked a young security guard at the gate if he would call the tour company for us. He did and eventually the tour guide came to pick us up. I was amazed at the poor management by the tour company. I had looked at each bus in the parking lot, I had seen a name for the "group" on the bus that was our bus, but the name meant nothing to us. Fortunately, we had a good, but not great tour. Tromso was probably the least scenic port on our cruise's itinerary. It was the largest city in the north of Norway. Still, the day was a good day and good tour, despite the difficulty with finding the tour. The tour took us to see three fjords as well as a scenic island near the entrance to the ocean. We had a nice lunch that included Norwegian food. It was a buffet and included many local specialties. There was a lot of smoked fish. I tried the smoked fish and it was ok, but not my favorite dish. HONNINGSVAG This was another fairly small town where our ship docked. In the middle of June the temperature was in the high 30s or low 40s with lots of wind. Ginny and I layered as much as possible to protect ourselves from the weather. We had booked a tour with Blue Puffin to the North Cape. This tour was great. Our tour was from the port of Honningsvag and our cruise ship. The tour guide was exceptional. She took us to see a scenic fishing village that included an up close and personal greeting from a King Crab (she fished two out of a large tank). She explained life in the far north of Norway and the fishing industry. Also, we met a member of the Sami people (also called Lapps) with his reindeer. We say many reindeer while on the tour. The tour took us over some very scenic places, but the main event was our visit to the North Cape facility, which was wonderful. It was a modern multistory facility that included a fantastic film showing the local area and its northern lights in the winter and endless days in the Summer. There were exhibits and a good place for a meal if desired. The facility was not far from the point were your could see the actual North Cape. It was very windy and cold, but I ventured out for about 15 minutes and took some great photos. ALESUND After another sea day, we arrived in Alesund, back in southern Norway. It was warmer there and we actually had a brief night, the sun going down around 11:15pm, rising about 3am. We had a tour with Norwegian Excursions. This was our second tour with them (first was in Geiranger). Again, the tour was wonderful. Our tour guide Iga was extremely knowledgeable and took us on a fantastic tour. This tour was probably the best that we took on our 11 night Serenade of the Seas cruise that visited 6 ports in Norway. The tour took us over much extraordinary scenery. The highlight of the tour was the Troll Road and Trollstigen plateau. Also, we saw the waterfall Stigfossen. This is a tour not to be missed. STAVANGER Stavanger was probably the largest city on our cruise. The port was central to Norway’s petroleum industry in the North Sea. We took a Fjord Cruise with Radne. The smaller boat was docked not far from our cruise ship. Many of our fellow cruisers from the Serenade of the Seas took this tour. It was chilly and we had not seats inside, so we brushed off the water on a bench on the port side of the boat and were able to sit for most of the three hour cruise. Many persons had no seats and sometimes partially blocked our views. However, we managed very well and were able to see very well, also taking lots of great photos. Our cruise took us past the famous Pulpit Rock that some hike for hours to reach. The Rock was featured in one of the Mission Impossible movies. About halfway to Pulpit Rock our views of the fjord was wonderful. We saw massive rock formations carved out by ancient glaciers. The boat even stopped to feed a goat that lived on the edge of one of the rock faces. Fortunately, it didn't rain and the day was great. We had one more sea day and then returned to Copenhagen port. Royal had a transfer to the airport that we had booked. TRIP HOME The trip was great but we were looking forward to returning home. Our Delta flight from Copenhagen was to New York’s JFK Airport. I had gone through JFK a few times during the 80s and have avoided it until this flight. We only had two flights to our destination in Orlando. Again, JFK was a royal pain. The lines were long getting through immigration, customs and security. We had a three hour layover in the airport that turned into a more than six hour layover. Our terminal included gates A, B and C. Gate C61 was the gate for our flight to Orlando. We waited at the gate for more than and hour. It took over two hours to get through all the lines. We noticed that the flight before ours to Denver did not depart the gate. We heard that the aircraft had mechanical problems. Our pilot was waiting for our aircraft to enter the gate, but with the Denver aircraft still there, that was not going to happen. Here is what I posted to Delta regarding our experience: We had an awful experience at JFK-NY. After a great transatlantic flight on Delta from Copenhagen to JFK, we had a flight from JFK to Orlando scheduled to depart around 7:30pm. The flight did not depart until about 11pm, arriving in Orlando about 1:30am the next day. We found the right gate C61 and arrived there after enduring all the dreadful but necessary immigration, custom and security process as well as the poorly run shuttle bus to Terminal C (not Deltas fault). Our problems began when the aircraft at terminal C61 that was flying to Denver did not fly. We were told it was due to mechanical problems. Our aircraft could not enter our gate, so we were finally told that we had to move to another gate (yes, we were herded back through the dreadful shuttle bus, which took a long time due to so many passengers waiting, all holding carry on luggage and standing for a long time). That gate was B23, I believe. The mess was not created by our Delta pilot. In fact, due to his heroics, we were informed as much as he could find out. He turned out to be our hero. His name was Eric Franke, # 521736. He was great, as were the rest of the Delta crew that worked diligently, late into the evening. Unfortunately, Gate B23 had no seating, no way to scan our boarding passes and our aircraft was still sitting somewhere full of its incoming passengers. Therefore, our pilot announced that we were moving to another gate. That gate was B18, which was back in the direction which we can come from the shuttle (at least we didnt have to take the shuttle bus over to the C terminal then. However, the entire area was jammed with waiting passengers for other flights and most of us had to stand up for what seemed like forever. Again, our pilot was our hero, keeping us informed. The local JFK staff seemed absent without leave. We had to wait until others departed to Portland and Richmond, then wait for our aircraft to empty of its passengers for us to board. Finally, we took the dreadful shuttle bus one more time to our aircraft and we departed about 11pm. The flight was great, but late and we cleared the airport with our baggage around 2am. Ginny and I made it home a little before 7am after driving from Orlando, with the help of the coffee that I had on the last flight. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Love the Radiance Class for this 7 night Baltic Cruise, 2100 people, easy to find everything. Picked Deck 3 oceanview and for port days just walked one deck down, very handy. Food was just fine. We celebrated a major birthday and ... Read More
Love the Radiance Class for this 7 night Baltic Cruise, 2100 people, easy to find everything. Picked Deck 3 oceanview and for port days just walked one deck down, very handy. Food was just fine. We celebrated a major birthday and enjoyed Chops one night and Giovanni's another night. Ship is a bit dated, but everything was acceptable. Diamond level so we enjoyed the beverages in the diamond lounge, less than 100 people so lounge was not too congested, but could use all the bars. Always enjoyed Windjammer for buffet breakfast, and sat out at aft of the ship, where most people don't sit. Enjoyed the wake. Sail in/out of Stockholm was incredible. Get up early or make sure you view this, 32,000 islands. Cruise director David was one of the oldest we have ever seen, but did an ok job. evening shows had Martin Brock excellent illusionist. Abbamax, ABBA tribute band was very entertaining, had the clothing, hair and heels! 2 production shows. Vibeology was excellent, Stage to Screen ok but Vibeology the best. Had some Russian gymnasts last night, who were super. Schooner Bar, had Jayne great pianist and entertainer. Not a real large library, but daily puzzles. Captain Arias was from Columbia, so announcements in English and Spanish. Bed was comfortable. Ship will have drydock in a year or 2. In all the ports there was a Hop on Hop off red bus there, except St Petersburg. Stockholm not hard to walk into town, Vasa museum a must, ABBA close by, harbour tour also lots of fun. walked around town Talinn, older town, very interesting. Not as busy as other ports. St Petersburg, Russia, did private Alla tour, had to wait 90 min till ship tours disembarked. City is very busy, traffic jams everywhere. Hermitage museum and Peterhof gardens super, even though museum was real busy. Even took local Metro ride and great lunch. Need more than 12 hours in port to see more. Helsinki, also nice to walk around, hilly city, nice harbour tour recommended. Stay a few days pre or post cruise in Copenhagen for sure. One can actually take Bus 25 from downtown direct to port. Metro gets you central to Norreport and bus is close by. But large cruise bags will make it more difficult. You can also use hop on red bus and buy 2 day pass and get ride there. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This is one of my favorite parts of the world and traveling into the fjords was a treat. The bright days and white nights near the summer solstice is a great time to see the scenery. RCL has done this for a long time and with a lot of ... Read More
This is one of my favorite parts of the world and traveling into the fjords was a treat. The bright days and white nights near the summer solstice is a great time to see the scenery. RCL has done this for a long time and with a lot of ships. Most things they have right, but some improvement is still possible. One example is the sail in to Geiranger, our first stop. The ride in is simply spectacular - breathtaking cliffs on both sides that goes on for hours. It is a very long fjord and we started in at 3am. We docked at 7am. If you waited until 6 to get on deck, all you saw was a complicated docking, all the scenery had passed. None of this was noted anywhere, or announced anywhere. We got up at 4:00 and were amazed at what we saw, fog swirling past cliffs and houses in impossible locations. Very nice. The pop soundtrack that came on about 5 did not enhance this. The other ports had various interesting images, but none so different as Geiranger. The staff was pleasant and effective. I do not understand the dining room's pursuit of self congratulations by stopping all the serving mid meal, calling out the staff to sing and dance rather than serving dessert and coffee. Once maybe, but three nights on a seven night cruise? Our balcony cabin was well layed out, especially the tiny bathroom. All was kept spotless by our steward. There were lots of clean handicap bathrooms, one by every regular public bathroom. That was appreciated. For room service they now charge $8. Besides having next to no port information ahead of time (history? people? What is the area known for?) the one place seriously lacking was the entertainment. It was dismal. I watched 2 singing and dancing shows and all I can say is that they were LOUD. If all you can say about a production is it would be better with earplugs, that's not a good thing. The juggler was fine. So all in all a pleasant cruise with a few details lacking. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
After some amazing cruises with TUI and Royal Caribbean, we chose to do the Norwegian Fjords primarily for the scenery. Sad to say Gerainger aside we didn’t see too much of the Fjords and spent a lot of time on choppy sea. Trips further ... Read More
After some amazing cruises with TUI and Royal Caribbean, we chose to do the Norwegian Fjords primarily for the scenery. Sad to say Gerainger aside we didn’t see too much of the Fjords and spent a lot of time on choppy sea. Trips further into the Fjords were available but at a price. The ship wasn’t clean at all. Many windows were filthy, and some of the public areas were extremely dusty. We ate in the Windjammer as like many other cruisers we didn’t feel the need or the urge to dress up. As ever the awindjammer food was plentiful, varied and of a high standard. The captain of the ship was very conspicuous by his absence, making rare appearances and hardly any announcements. Probably the most disengaged captain we have ever experienced. Same could be said of the Cruise Director who although very pleasant could have done a lot more to liven things up. His job was made much harder by the lack of quality in the production team. One singer Suzanne was excellent but the remainder were amongst the worst we have ever experienced on our cruises. The headliner acts were also poor compared to other cruises apart from the Barricade Boys who put on a great show. As a consequence the theatre was never packed out. Overall the cruise lacked atmosphere, and would make us think seriously about using Royal Caribbean in the future. Our experience was further dampened with the spa staff failing on 4 occasions to correct my wife’s hair salon bill after over charging her. This was put right by guest services on the final morning. Also we had to vacate the ship at 8:15 am despite our flight home not being until 17:55, an extra 4 hours on the ship was offered at $44 each, which essentially meant sitting on the ship with no access to facilities apart from lunch in the Windjammer. We chose to endure 9 hours at the airport instead. We met some nice people whose views were much the same as ours. We would have happily come home after 3 days but decided to make the best of a bad job. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
always wanted to see the Norwegian coastline and this cruise did not disappoint. From the snow covered mountains to the hustle and bustle of Bergen - and RCI did a good job organising everything. we didn't have a drink package on ... Read More
always wanted to see the Norwegian coastline and this cruise did not disappoint. From the snow covered mountains to the hustle and bustle of Bergen - and RCI did a good job organising everything. we didn't have a drink package on this trip due to all the shore time and this worked well. Furthermore, the embarkation and back to back arrangements went well (nearly everything) the food was wholesome and one would have a good choice of faire - we didn't partake in speciality dining but Windjammer and anytime dining was great. Shore excursions were well organised and everything ran like clockwork (we did have one that we booked ouselves that didn't work out but thats another story). Crew were excellent including our room attendant - John - looked after us and our room was always spotless. The only thing was no shuttle from the ship on two of the stops without cost - seems a little issue but should be addressed. Furthermore, although I love not having the internet maybe having it included in the cost would be a game changer for others - people complained about the cost. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Have never traveled to this area before and always wanted to go to Russia with my family. The staff was superb and their diversity made it a lot of fun learning about all the different countries. Dining was awesome. Food and service ... Read More
Have never traveled to this area before and always wanted to go to Russia with my family. The staff was superb and their diversity made it a lot of fun learning about all the different countries. Dining was awesome. Food and service at the Chops Grill was on par with Ruth Chris - excellent. Entertainment was excellent. The shows varied and the singing and dancing was the highest quality. We also had lot's of fun with Trivia & Scavenger Hunts. Many activities you could enjoy with your children/grandchildren. Had a great time with my son at the Casino. We learned Texas Hold em and Craps. Staff was excellent in teaching the games. Ports were well selected and excellent. Should be noted that in mid-May, temperatures are 45 - 65F. Ship was very clean and everything worked well. Superb cruise. Tour of St Pete area by T J Tours "Dina" was efficient, informative, humorous and completely enjoyable. Have not had a better day in many Moons. Cruise was well designed with ports and cruising time. Had a food tour in Stockholm which was great. Even focused on the differences between Finnish, Swedish and Danish cusine. Salvaged ship museum was very impressive and had a human interest with the ship sinking on the maiden voyage. Tallin and Helsinki we enjoyable and easy to see on your own with children. Great people, clean and great food. Had been forewarned about difficulties in Russia, but the tour which did not require a visa had us breeze through the many lines and bottlenecks. Also included a nice lunch Russian style. Could not have been more pleased. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this cruise because of the ports: departing from Copenhagen, then Stockholm, Tallin, st Petersburg, Helsinki, back to Copenhagen. Overall - Amazing location, very friendly cruise staff, great service and food, we were surprised ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the ports: departing from Copenhagen, then Stockholm, Tallin, st Petersburg, Helsinki, back to Copenhagen. Overall - Amazing location, very friendly cruise staff, great service and food, we were surprised by how swift embarkation at ports were. Just check in was a little long. We arrived CPH on day of embarkation at 7am. There was already cruise staff holding a sign asking if anyone has booked cruise transfer to port. Nonetheless , my group used public transportation to Oceankaj by train then bus 25/27. We spent about 1+ hour at check in counter, we were told that it is the first sail of the year, staff was still on training to the new system as happens that system was down. I completed online check in but staff can not locate record so we have to complete whole check in process again. Team did not collect passport from us at check in, which again create a little hassle when we are on board. Cruise staff has to come to us to collect it. Once we board, staff with yellow t shirt was at every floor to help answer questions and help people familiarise with the cruise. This is my 2nd cruise with RCI, serenade of the Seas is a smaller cruise then before (quantum class cruise) which means less people, and less crowded. Never very difficult to get table at Windjammer. Dinner at main dining room was fab. Good food and attentive service. Same table and wait staff everyday Remember to download their app if you need to know info in other language. My family benefited from using the app as info were listed in chinese for them. Not really long lines at customer service. Staff are much more friendly, Cruise Director David is always around, can feel that he cares about customers. The cruise is a little dated but well maintained. Lots of storage space. Our housekeeper Sean is amazing, always checking if we are ok. Great shows and always good music on board. Less entertainment facilities on board then quantum class cruise, but I did enjoy my ‘do nothing’ time. Amazing ports especially Stockholm. Hop on hop off bus was waiting right outside departure gate for travelers. Tallin is an easy port, within walking distance to old town. Helsinki ‘s port was a little far away from downtown. Even excursion staff is unsure which port cruise will use 2 days before arrival. Wrong info given at the leaflet distributed on board. We joined independent excursion at St Petersburg, we can only depart ship 90 min after docking time. Have to let those joined cruise shorex depart first. We traveled in smaller group and with early entry to Hermitage plus an additional subway ride. Overall good cruise experience again. I would recommend this cruise and route. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Chose this cruise for its ports. Entertainment was good the first 10 days, but how many times can you listen to an island band play same songs night after night while making up words. Also headliner shows were too loud and not very ... Read More
Chose this cruise for its ports. Entertainment was good the first 10 days, but how many times can you listen to an island band play same songs night after night while making up words. Also headliner shows were too loud and not very good. One night was cruise director singing songs from early 1900, and a lot of people got up and left' Food was good, except for spare ribs in MDR. Couldn't even cut them off the bone. Wouldn't have served them to guests at my house. Windjammer food was good, but only thing hot was the soups. I like my food hot not tepid. Turn up the heat lamps. Shows in centrum were also very loud. Loud doesn't make it good. A lot of times you couldn't understand what they were saying. Ship was in good shape for its age, and staff was friendly. We had an ocean room cabin and it is just like any cabin on any other ship. We don't spend a lot of time in cabin, so we aren't hung up on cabin type. This is my opinion, and I am not trying to pursuade any one to choose this ship or not. I have never been on a bad cruise, even when we missed 2 days in Israel, or when we went around 2 hurricanes. We just enjoyed the new adventure. My take is we are all different in our expectations, God made us that way for a purpose, so get on board and enjoy the ride, Its a vacation, not a status. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We'd previously cruised to Eastern Caribbean ports and Western Caribbean; never had done Southern Caribbean, so we picked this cruise. It was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean. Ports were fine; we certainly liked that we ... Read More
We'd previously cruised to Eastern Caribbean ports and Western Caribbean; never had done Southern Caribbean, so we picked this cruise. It was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean. Ports were fine; we certainly liked that we never needed tenders at any of our five stops. Royal Caribbean was OK -- not bad, not great. With a little bit of thought, they could do a better job. We took three excursions through the ship's desk and we had a little of everything -- one poor tour guide (Bonaire Highlights) whose English was substandard, one who was average (Panoramic St. Lucia) and one that was very good (Amazing Antigua). Food was average; a few times entrees were only warm. Our primary server in the main dining room, Viktoriia, was outstanding. Nothing fazed her. She was both pleasant and efficient, and her recommendations were very good. She was perhaps the best server I've had on eight cruises we've taken. On Day 3 or 4, we pointed out a problem with wine service, in which the server would arrive at the table with five or six glasses of wine, then ask people at the table to pass them around until the right glass arrived at the right person. We asked the person in charge of the dining room to fix this problem -- I doubt that's the way they were trained -- but it resurfaced a few days later. Breakfast in the main dining room was very good, a great way to start the day. At the end of the day, we didn't have anything served to us that made us say, "Hope we have this again!" Royal Caribbean gets an F grade for the amount of thought they give to when and where they schedule some of their live entertainment. They offer a pianist and an acoustic guitar player at different times in the Schooner Bar, but the place is so damn loud, you can only appreciate the musician's talent if you're seated 6 feet away. Kids are arguing over a checkers game, the bartender is ringing a bell for a good tip, group conversations carry throughout this open space, part of the space also serves as a popular walk-through to the Safari Club . . . this is an embarrassment to the musicians playing here. As I was called from being next in line to talk to a person about booking excursions, a band began its set in the Centrum, about 40 feet away. You could have heard them a mile away, which made my conversation with the tour booking rep close to a shouting match. WHEN DO WANT TO GO ON THIS TOUR? TUESDAY. IT'S TOO LATE TO BOOK THAT TOUR FOR TODAY. NOT TODAY . . . TUESDAY! 99 percent of the chairs in public seating areas (excluding the main theater) are absolutely terrible. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We wanted to celebrate our 40 years of marriage. We did 2 consecutive cruises - Caribbean and then crossing the Atlantic ocean to do the second one including Azores, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland with final port Copenhagen. We ... Read More
We wanted to celebrate our 40 years of marriage. We did 2 consecutive cruises - Caribbean and then crossing the Atlantic ocean to do the second one including Azores, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland with final port Copenhagen. We enjoyed both cruises. The service was excellent as a whole. Entertainment and activities included events for all ages and interests. Performances in Tropical Theater were impressive. The cabin was attended twice a day, which you cannot experience even in the high class hotels, the food was good as well. Windjammer offers quite a variety of different cuisines. Food exceeded our expectations in term of quality.The best of service we received at Reflections in the evenings, we were served by Zhelio Hristov, who was very helpful and polite. The whole staff we got in contact was very friendly, we were impressed by its attention and attentiveness. We will certainly recommend Serenade of the Seas to our friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this review because of the new areas we have not been to. Ponce PR and Grenada. All in all we really enjoyed the cruise. The Pinnacle/Suite Concierge was very good and we really enjoyed the special party put on for Pinnacle/Suite ... Read More
We chose this review because of the new areas we have not been to. Ponce PR and Grenada. All in all we really enjoyed the cruise. The Pinnacle/Suite Concierge was very good and we really enjoyed the special party put on for Pinnacle/Suite Guests. It was so good to see Mario in the Diamond lounge again. The elevator's were the only problem for us. They were so small and key hole shaped. Not good. We have traveled on the Serenade of the Seas before in 2009 14 night Panama Canal Cruise and 2012 The 12 night Mediterranean Greek Isles Cruise and do not remember the elevators being like that. The dining rooms also have changed and not for the better. Would like a better menu. There were so many things I could not eat. I ordered Original Chocolate Ensure from Special needs and did not receive it for 4 days. I got mighty hungry before it showed up. They first sent me Vanilla on day 3 which I did not like... wish I knew how to expedite this on my next several cruises so I get it in my cabin on the first night. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are destination cruisers rather than loyalty cruisers. So we can compare the difference in cruise lines. We've sailed on Royal, Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian and Carnival. And this was a very nice cruise. It doesn't beat ... Read More
We are destination cruisers rather than loyalty cruisers. So we can compare the difference in cruise lines. We've sailed on Royal, Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian and Carnival. And this was a very nice cruise. It doesn't beat our best - the Norwegian Getaway -, but it was certainly worth the money. Embarkation was the best ever. There was no filling out paper work - just show your ticket and board. . Disembarking was confusing as the printed delivered document gave different information than the computer screen. It went quickly, though. We ate at Chops, Izumi and Giovanni's all of which were good. Surprisingly, we liked Izumi the best. I think because the waitress was so pleasant. If there were on thing we could complain about it would be the entertainment. There were a couple of good shows, but over all we felt it was greatly lacking. The service was excellent. We really enjoyed the Park Café as it was quiet enough to read or play cards. The hot tub needs to be replaced. There is only one in the Solarium and it is way behind the times. There were few children on the ship, I think we would try a different cruise line if we did it again so that we would have a fair measure. This is the longest cruise we have ever taken and found it enjoyable other than the lack of entertainment. It is embarrassing to say that we spent some time watching TV and we went to the Cinema on board. We would have preferred to see a good live show. In this area Norwegian is superior and it has more choices of restaurants. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Picked this cruise on Vision of the Seas for the destinations that we had not been to before. Really enjoyed Barbados, Grenada and especially Antigua. Did not enjoy Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and St. Lucia as much, but were a nice ... Read More
Picked this cruise on Vision of the Seas for the destinations that we had not been to before. Really enjoyed Barbados, Grenada and especially Antigua. Did not enjoy Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and St. Lucia as much, but were a nice experience to visit once. We took three land excursions and also three sea excursions. Really enjoyed the sea excursions (some through Royal and some outside companies. Fun time, weather was beautiful and the overall experience was as expected. Chops dining was very good service and excellent food. Show quality was not bad, and singers and dancers were very talented. The entertainment was good for he size of the ship (Vision of the Seas) and kept us entertained throughout the trip. Room attendant did an excellent job, and was very stealthy about room cleanings, but was available when we needed him. We have traveled Royal many times, and this was a nice trip on a medium size ship. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This ship, in my opinion, is the one of the best on RC. The staff working on the ship were top notch. Efficient, personable, pleasant, and very hellpful. The Diamond Club was excellent as were all bartenders on the ship. The guests ... Read More
This ship, in my opinion, is the one of the best on RC. The staff working on the ship were top notch. Efficient, personable, pleasant, and very hellpful. The Diamond Club was excellent as were all bartenders on the ship. The guests were friendly and fun. Entertainment was everywhere on this ship. The size of this ship was perfect. Although, I got sick on my trip, Guest Services, Housekeeping, and Room Service went out of their way to make sure I was okay. I would have to say, though, that one of the doctors was in no way any help, but when I asked for the other doctor, I was given the proper meds. This set me back 2 days. of my trip, unfortunately. Other than that, I would recommend this ship, to anyone who wants a perfect size ship with awesome, friendly, helpful crew. Would love to go on this ship again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I spent a lot of time giving feedback at the end of this cruise on their survey. Below are my comments to RCI (with edits). We had sailed on the Royal Princess recently (I know it's a newer ship and a different class) so we could ... Read More
I spent a lot of time giving feedback at the end of this cruise on their survey. Below are my comments to RCI (with edits). We had sailed on the Royal Princess recently (I know it's a newer ship and a different class) so we could make direct comparisons easily. I hope they use some of the comments to improve the experience for others. This is not a new ship but well maintained with a very friendly crew. We enjoyed the rock climbing and tried to participate in many of the activities offered. We just sailed on the Royal Princess about 8 weeks ago so it was easy to compare our experiences. Both cruises were enjoyable BUT the Princess cruise was more enjoyable overall. We embarked in Ft. Lauderdale and it was not as nice looking a terminal as the Princess cruise from the same port. The buffet on the Princess cruise has a much bigger selection and really really good food and an insane variety of foods from different cultures. It was so good, we hardly went to eat in the dining room. To get superior food on the Serenade we had to eat in the dining room. We also enjoyed the buffet service better on the Princess cruise. There seemed to be more staff at the buffet to get our drink orders (no having to get up to get our drinks) and tables were cleared very often on the Royal Princess. The dining room staff on the Serenade were very good and charming. Also, little touches like water and wet face clothes after an excursion were not done on the Serenade. To return towels after an excursion we had to return on the Lido deck (long hike after a tiring day). Also we felt we were charged more for services like laundry (we loved the self-serve laundry on every deck on the Princess), photos, spa, etc. We felt the Princess had better value for us in general and a more pleasant overall experience. Our experience on the Serenade was good but it could have been excellent. We did love seeing Captain Aris around all the time. And the entertainment staff, dancers and singers were very fun. We loved the Switched On Band and tried to dance as a family overnight with the band! We participated in the mob dance (thanks Naomi!). We also enjoyed the Flag Ceremony and the Farewell Ceremony as we know the crew really work hard. We also thought the entire crew were friendly and charming from our Steward to the Wait Staff. In terms of hand washing, the Royal Princess has very efficient had washing stations before entering the buffets and restaurants that were enforced. We loved that. We know the Serenade is an older ship but during a retrofit, you should do that (safety first). The small outdoor movie screen also has a pixel issue. The app on the Princess allowed your party to text/message each other for FREE! The RCI app is looks beautiful but not as useful for our family to communicate with each other around the ship. Also your TV, doesn't allow people to select movie and shows on demand (which we had on the Royal Princess). We liked how it was announced by the captain on the first day that everyone fist pumps on the ship and does not hand shake. We enjoyed hearing from the captain as he seemed to really participate in the events. We enjoyed the dance classes by professional dancers (the dance team was very good) and we enjoyed the meet and great with the dancers and singers on the last day. Loved the live music around the ship and in the theatre! We liked the actual glass shower doors (no mess). The spa double charged me for a service (no way I could get my pedicure twice on the same day). I went to speak with Mina (spa manager, it was later in the evening). Instead of processing the refund right away, she said she would need to speak to her team first and find out the reason for the mistake. This is not good customer service - she should have processed my refund immediately and then spoken with her staff the next day. We enjoyed the egg drop, ship building battle (our kids won), mob dance, napkin folding, towel folding, bartender show, 70's night and 70's night dance training with Naomi. My husband showed up for the darts and table tennis contests but no staff were at the "events" so the passengers did their own "contests and games" which was too bad because he won both competitions. We thought this cruise's entertainment was more fun but our general feeling was that it could have been a better overall experience in the other areas. The Ft. Lauderdale terminal did not look nice at all on departure; it should be renovated so keep that nice ship feeling all the way through. The terminal didn't understand that Global Entry passengers should have a separate line to get to the customs agent! We had to speak to someone to help us with that and thankfully, he understood and helped us. Finally the kids club, our 10 year old preferred the one on the Princess and thought it was really restrictive on the Serenade and never wanted to go there as she wanted free time to do her own thing in the club. The photos, we liked the experience on the Princess better (they also retouch your photos for free on the Princess). As we "collected" the photos, they kept it for us so it wasn't a chore to find them all the time, we purchased them on the ship (we were told they didn't have enough room on the Serenade to do this). and they used the bar code to put the digital photos right away on a USB stick for us so I was not concerned about an email coming to me. The photo package for all the photos were also more affordable on the Royal Princess. It seems like such a waste of printed photos to have them all displayed and most of them trashed. All ships should have computer terminals that with a simple swipe of your sea pass card or medallion, you get to see all of your photos on a screen and get your digital files emailed to you or on a USB stick. Not environmentally friendly at all and waste of your staff resources. No more printed photos! Who really wants 8 x 10s! We just want to post on social media and be done with it or just print out a few at Costco. We loved how often we saw or heard Captain Aris around the ship. He looks like someone who enjoys his job! We would love to see a female captain one day. We enjoyed the dining room staff, especially manager Kaviraj and his staff Sheldon, Maynard and Hurray. Special acknowledgement to Adikash who made a wonder paper jumping frog for my child and her cousin. They loved it! We enjoyed the soft serve ice cream in the buffet and the sorbets in the dining room. Sanya, our steward was great and we loved to hear her laugh. Napkins should be available at the self service drink stations. We also thought the buffets hours were odd on the Serenade (they close at 9:00 and before lunch and before dinner) because it never closed on the Princess during the day and was open to 11PM every night! Tip for muster station info on the sea pass cards, put the deck number on it too. Hand sanitizers should also be located right by the food at the buffet too. I didn't trust that everyone had clean hands so after handling the food serving spooks and ladle, I sanitized my hands again but had to walk all the way back to the hostess or the front doors. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I get to cruise once or twice per year, it is our light at the end of the tunnel. We love everything about cruising and this trip did not disappoint...mostly. Let's get the bad out of the way, this was the worst ... Read More
My wife and I get to cruise once or twice per year, it is our light at the end of the tunnel. We love everything about cruising and this trip did not disappoint...mostly. Let's get the bad out of the way, this was the worst entertainment staff we have ever sailed with. They were professional, courteous and pleasant but man were they boring. Worse was the cruise staffed performers, they had on excellent singer we wished they would have featured more. The other singers and dancers were like a really bad high school production. The costumes were cheap and made at times little sense and the choreography very blah. That being said the rest of the entertainment was fantastic, every day and night the entertainment was great from the Ship's orchestra to the comics to the solo bar artists the Caribbean pool duo. But the stars of the ship was a pop band from Mexico called Switched On. They had incredible range and great charisma, they had everybody rocking in a very good way. Serenade is an older ship but incredibly well maintained. We love her size, because it feels more quaint, easy to figure out and you see the same crew often which breeds comfortable familiarity. We also don't love a tender process and didn't have to do any on this cruise. Getting ashore and back on was efficient and painless. Windjammer is where we did most breakfasts and lunches at it had great diversity of choices we have come to expect. I like the Indian fare and the Omelet Station is great, they have it down to a science. Main dining room Reflections is just fine for us and the My Time Dining. We were seated with Waiter and Assistant waiter Sinaga and Ian. Find these two, Sinaga is hard working sincere and does fantastic close up magic, Ian is equally hardworking, has a mischievous glint in his eye and is delightfully funny. The Itinerary was fantastic; St. Thomas-We have been to this beautiful Island a few times so we opted to take the ship excursion to St. John Trunk Bay and it was great. A fun Island Girl Ferry over and back with a friendly crew, then a short bus ride.Good snorkeling was included for novices in crystal waters and a gorgeous beach. really nice facilities with food and drink available for purchase. St Croix- Cruise excursion to the Whim Estate, an old sugar plantation with cultural and historical guides. Then to the St. George Village Botanical Gardens a very nice walk with an informed guide, took some pics for ideas in my Florida garden. Then to the Captain Morgan distillery because Cruzan was closed. This part of the tour was mostly sales, however the staff were amazingly friendly and the rum tasting...well it was an intoxicating venture and the gift/liquer store prices were very good. Antigua- Ship excursion and short bus trip to Ffryes Beach, again crystal clear water and beautiful beach. Some tent shops with very polite salespeople and not pushy at all. Ffryes Beach Bar/ Dennis Restaurant where two drinks and a very tasty lunch was provided. St. Kitts- Research told me to pick a tour once disembarked, and it was spot on. Look for All Weather Tours run by Franklin, it is all you need to do. 30 years on the police force and corrections now turned to tour guide. $20 a piece gets you a comfortable open air, narrated bus ride by someone in love with his country and impassioned to share it. The tour hits all the highlights except the fort. He also carries a bar and mixes some mean cocktails. If you think you can hang ask for the Ting with a Sting" or his delicious "All Weather Rum Punch", just know your limits. Next time we go we will book him again, it was that much fun. Our favorite stop on this itinerary by far. St. Maarten- Ship excursion 6 Jeeps with walkie-talkie narration. a Good guide who was able to keep us together and handled some adversity very well. You have to drive aggressively which was a blast but one of our jeeps had an incident with a tourist's vehicle in which the driver who was to drive to drunk. This was our least favorite destination, it is crowded, not very friendly and ridiculously expensive. Not a fan of either side of the Island. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We boarded the Serenade of the Seas (myself and 2 friends) on Friday, 3/15, for a 10 day Caribbean cruise! Embarkation was incredibly easy! By the time we arrived at the port it was 1pm and there was no line at all. Our cabins were ... Read More
We boarded the Serenade of the Seas (myself and 2 friends) on Friday, 3/15, for a 10 day Caribbean cruise! Embarkation was incredibly easy! By the time we arrived at the port it was 1pm and there was no line at all. Our cabins were ready when we got there and our cruise pass cards were in our cabins. My friends had one balcony cabin, 8530, and I had 8532. Unfortunately, the balcony separator could not be removed on this ship, but it worked out ok. The cabins had a little bit of wear, but overall, they were clean with plenty of storage. The only negatives were the number of outlets (only 2), and the bed quality (really, really horrible). My friends had no complaints. I felt like I was sleeping on top of springs. My cabin attendant put a comforter under the bottom sheet and it helped, but the mattress should have been replaced. My room attendant, Irod, was a really nice guy who always had a kind word and a smile. Serenade has so many places where you can go and read or sit and relax! I love the center atrium because you always know what’s going on from any deck. It’s a nice gathering area. The ship is easy to navigate and never felt crowded. There’s a nice area with chairs and tables outside of the Windjammer that was a great place to sit and grab a snack after an excursion. Overall, it’s a very pretty, well-designed ship and I would easily sail on her again. The food was okay. Some meals were great (panko crusted salmon, lobster) and some meals were just eh. The menu repeated a lot in the main dining room, but there was always something for everyone. If not an entrée, then certainly a couple appetizers. We had My Time dining, but made a reservation for 5:30 each night. And each night we had the same table and the same waiter. I guess we did a modified, traditional eating plan! Our waiter, Julio, and assistant waiter, Wuh, were excellent. The windjammer was a typical buffet. Just pick your favorites and move on. I think the museli is enough of a reason to cruise!! I read a few comments from past cruisers who felt the staff looked bored and uninterested. I have to agree with them. Those that provided great service were the minority in the Windjammer and main dining room. We tried lunch a few times on sea days in the main dining room. Not only were the servers not interested in serving us, they were rude and unpleasant. Not all, but most. I bought a coffee card and Andres knew my name and drink of choice by the second day. That amazes me! He serves so many people, but remembers details like that. And he didn’t mind if you asked for more of this or less of that. Thank you Andres!! We had 5 stops and did 4 ship excursions and one private. Disembarkation was very easy and never a wait. Same with getting back on the ship. No problem whatsoever. We met our tour groups on the pier, which we preferred way more than meeting in the theatre and being herded off the ship. The first stop, St. Thomas, we took a ship excursion over to St. John. We went by boat and then boarded an open air truck to drive around the island. Very pleasant. Even stopped for rum drinks half way through. I wish we would have had more time to walk around the town, but the transfer boat wanted us back on by 2:30 and the tour ended at 2:10. The 2nd stop was St. Croix. We booked a private jeep tour with TanTan Tours and it was incredible! We had to take a taxi over to the Christiansted side of the island (about 30 min ride) and that was not easy. They did not like that we wanted one way and not round trip, it was total chaos trying to get a cab and they crammed as many as they could into every vehicle. We did eventually make it for $8/pp one way and walked a bit to meet our tour. The Jeep tour was amazing! I highly recommend it. A lot of off-roading and a stop to swim in tidal pools. Great fun! The third stop, Antigua, we booked a day on a private island. I think it was called Crusoe island. Although we enjoyed it, I would not do it again. Too primitive for me. My spoiled brain pictured rum drinks being served while lounging in chairs under umbrellas and on a nice beach. In reality, we were bussed to a hotel, crammed into an old, wooden boat for the 10 minute ride to the island. There were chairs to sit in, but zero shade. Every time we asked for an umbrella, we were told we had to wait for everyone to get there. That took about 2 hours. I don’t want to sit in the hot sun for 2 hours. They eventually put up a couple 10x10 tents and we did finally have shade. There was plenty of rum punch. There was one marine toilet for about 45 people. It did not work and even after asking twice for flushing directions, it never did work. The water was very pretty and they did offer snorkel equipment but you had to go out pretty far to get to water over your knees. The lunch was really great! It wasn’t a horrible excursion, but I thought it was kind of boring and not what I expected. In St. Kitts, we took the boat ride to Nevis and tour of the island. It took about 45 mins to get from St. Kitts to Nevis and then we boarded another open air truck. We stopped at the Alexander Hamilton museum but you couldn’t get out. Next stop was hot springs, then lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Food was okay. The highlight of the trip was seeing Prince Charles and Camilla back at the dock when we were leaving. You could go up and shake their hand if you wanted. It wasn’t the frenzy that it is here in the States. The islanders found it merely interesting. Our last stop, St. Maarten, was one of the best! So much devastation still there from the hurricane in 2017. Boats overturned in the water and buildings completely gutted. And then in between were signs of recovery and newly renovated places. We took the 3 Islands by Power Boat tour. We stopped a few places to snorkel and swim and ended with lunch on the beach. We really enjoyed this excursion! In summary, we greatly enjoyed our cruise and would definitely sail again on Serenade of the Seas! Read Less
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.3

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