1,671 Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Most of the food was not fit for wild animals. The eggs Benedict was a hard boiled egg on an english muffin that I couldnt cut with a knife. The hollandaise sauce was a cold goo. The buffet was disgusting and always a line. Never any ... Read More
Most of the food was not fit for wild animals. The eggs Benedict was a hard boiled egg on an english muffin that I couldnt cut with a knife. The hollandaise sauce was a cold goo. The buffet was disgusting and always a line. Never any clean tables to eat at, we had to clean our own or sit outside in 45 degree weather. All of the tables and bar surfaces were dirty with rings from glass and plate marks, I never saw a table or bar surface cleaned. In the dining room I had one good dinner, all of the others were awful. The calamari I bit into and pulled with both hands and couldnt rip it apart. the ice cream was always served half melted. The fish was so dry it couldnt be eaten. The shrimp appetizer had no flavor and was mushy. The kitchen didnt get the memo that pasta needs to be stirred when cooked. The pasta was stuck together so it didnt get cooked thru in many places. I had pasta 3 times and it was always the same, crunchy in some places, firm in the most cooked areas. We had our reserved dinner time but always had to wait up to 30 minutes. It took 30 minutes to get a glass of wine with dinner. The warm meals were served at room temperatures and the cold meals were served at room temperature. The servers were very good and friendly but they were very understaffed. There were crowds everywhere due to the ship being understaffed. We waited in long lines for everything. Pretty much everything was an up-sale. All prices were stupid high based on the level of service, or lack thereof. I will Never go on a RC ship again, even if it were free. This was my 6th cruise and my first and last on RC. Everyone in out group of six people agreed with my review. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
1. Very speedy embarkation process in Boston. We arrived at about 1:15 pm and curbside to cabin was less than 15 minutes. 2. Cabin was ready and clean but looked "worn/used". Cabin steward Jacob was wonderful. 3. ... Read More
1. Very speedy embarkation process in Boston. We arrived at about 1:15 pm and curbside to cabin was less than 15 minutes. 2. Cabin was ready and clean but looked "worn/used". Cabin steward Jacob was wonderful. 3. Itinerary was changed due to hurricane/tropical storm Jerry. While we appreciate RCI adding a day in Portland and shortening our stay in Bermuda to keep everyone safe and comfortable, we were very disappointed. 4. Many parts of the ship were in need of repair: outdoor movie screen did not work, near Schooner bar a lingering "burnt wood" smell, cigarette smoke smell in may public non-smoking areas, one day our cabin door would not lock, a few days later maintenance was in our room for over 3 hours to fix a leak. 5. The two outdoor hot tubs closed by 7:30pm every evening. Therefore the only other hot tub in the Solarium was always crowded. This created some hostility among the passengers in the hot tub and those waiting to use it. Also, the staff allowed children into the Solarium in the evening to use the pool, since "the outdoor pool was too cold and the hot tubs were closed". 6. The cruise director staff was suspiciously absent and the activities offered on this cruise were few and far between. The destination speaker was not a good speaker, the evening entertainment was just okay, and the musicians were mediocre at best. We did not notice any live music by the pool. 7. The food was better than expected in Windjammers and Giovanni, and as expected in the dining room and at Chops. This was our 14th cruise overall, and our third and last cruise with RCI. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Serenade of the Seas Cabin 1050 suite I was concerned about the food as many reviews indicated that the food was not good. We did not find that to be true at all. I travelled with 3 other family members (all adults) and the suite ... Read More
Serenade of the Seas Cabin 1050 suite I was concerned about the food as many reviews indicated that the food was not good. We did not find that to be true at all. I travelled with 3 other family members (all adults) and the suite was comfortable for 4. The tub is quite high for elderly travelers but, we knew that before we travelled and we were able to adjust. The juggler and comedians were very funny. The other ship entertainment was quite good as well. Unfortunately, the singers fell short of what I have come to expect. I feel bad as I know they train hard but, their voices were not as polished or professional as I expected or heard on other cruises.That is what brings down my entertainment rating. The other entertainment and games and shows were very good. The dining staff and food and chef and wait staff and head waiters and maitre d etc were unbelievably great and we felt like we were the only group in the room. They went way over and above for my 90 year old mother and showered her with attention and helped her with her wheelchair. They also spoiled my 24 year old daughter who is vegan. It was as if she had a private chef with the amount of attention she received and they went way over and above to accommodate her needs. We ate in Chops Grille for breakfast as that was a suite perk. It was very good and hardly any other travelers were there. We ate in the main dining room or Windjammer buffet for lunch. Both were great and plentiful with a good variety of options. We had appetizers and drinks in the concierge lounge and ate in the anytime main dining room for dinner. The excursion we did was the Devils Island Snorkel. The crew was great but, the kayaking was quite limited as to where you could go and you could only use it for 10 minutes at a time. People who snorkeled enjoyed it. We would just ask about how far and how long we could go in the kayaks next time. I would recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have done many cruises in and out of Boston. We have taken the Maine/Canada cruise on the Serenade three times, we enjoy the ship and decided to try Bermuda this year. Since it is hurricane season we took a chance that we would end up ... Read More
We have done many cruises in and out of Boston. We have taken the Maine/Canada cruise on the Serenade three times, we enjoy the ship and decided to try Bermuda this year. Since it is hurricane season we took a chance that we would end up in Canada again. It was touch and go for about a week, and we did head to Portland Maine for a day, and lost one day in Bermuda. We still throughly enjoyed the cruise and found it very relaxing as usual. The captain was Stig Nilsen, we have sailed with him a few times on different Radiance class ships. Carly Boileau was the cruise director, she creates a great atmosphere around the ship along with Nick her Activities Director. Nibu Sayed was the Hotel Director there was incredible Indian food in the Windjammer. Denis Loncarica was the Chief Engineer. There was no Captains Corner this time which we usually enjoy, seeing the film about the behind the scene’s working of the ship, and having the officers speak and answer questions. We decided to try the three day specialty restaurant package when it went on sale we bought it before we sailed, it was a good value. We were not disappointed, and enjoy dinner in Chops, Giovanni’s, and Izumi. The food was great, and wonderful service as usual. We each tried to hot rocks dinner in Izumi, it was OK, I am not sure what all the rave reviews are about. They have moved the tables in Chops so they are not so close together and the atmosphere is calm and relaxing. We ate in the MDR only once on formal night. It was crowded, and too much rushing about by the staff as they try to serve everyone. I did notice that people in the area we sat were dressed up, suits and a few tuxes on the men, and lots of evening gowns and cocktail dresses and fancy tops on the women. Once we left the dining room it was very mixed and we saw lots of shorts and t-shirts. We ate in the Windjammer several nights, it is much quieter than the dining room, and lots of great choices for food and fantastic deserts. The staff was welcoming, helpful and always smiling. Rocky our room steward was outstanding, kept the cabin spotless and was an expert at towel animals. The ship is in great condition, but I can’t help not liking the changes. I miss the library, though I found a good book to read in the bookshelves by the pool tables, I used to enjoy sitting there reading and listening to the music in the Centrum. The area above the Centrum that used to be the Loyaly area is still closed even though the aerial show is long gone where they stored the equipment. It is wasted space now. I used to like the glass area in the floor where you could look down into the Centrum, I understand it is still there on the Jewel and Radiance of the Seas. Speaking of the Centrum they are still doing all the activities that used to be held in the Safari Club there. The Captains reception seems like an after thought in the Centrum so we just kept walking. It used to be a very special event. The International Parade of Nations is impossible to enjoy in the Centrum. They have had complaints about noise in the cabins near the Centrum, even with the closed doors, but they just keep doing it. It makes no sense. The production shows were very good as always, Stage to Screen was outstanding. We did not see Vibology this time. The commedian was not our favorite, but the commedian juggler was very funny. We used the gym, lots of people did still it was not crowded. We spent no time at the pool but anytime I walked by, there were plenty of chairs. There were few children on this cruise. It was very calm, no crowds, no problem getting restaruant reservations once on board. We had a small Meet and Mingle, wished more had attended. Boarding in Boston was different this time. We were met by a worker with a tablet who checked us in, and took our picture with it. When we arrived their were no lines at all. We usually arrive around 1pm and find few people but this time we just went through security and checking with no waiting. I guess the new method works well. Next year the Brilliance will be sailing out of Boston, we are booked for the 10 day cruise to Canada next fall. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The first issue was the fact that we got rerouted to Portland Maine for a day (which I could drive to from NH any day for an hour and a half). So we really only had two days in Bermuda. The first day we had a good time at horse show bay. ... Read More
The first issue was the fact that we got rerouted to Portland Maine for a day (which I could drive to from NH any day for an hour and a half). So we really only had two days in Bermuda. The first day we had a good time at horse show bay. The second day we went to a beach closer to the cruise ship since we had to revised by 4:30 to make it back before leaving. The beach was suppose to open at 9 and they told us we had to wait until 10:40 because the Disney cruise that just came in had to do their excursions before we could go in. Well they were late so finally at 11 after the two excursions came in and filled up the beach us low class royal carribean cruisers who also paid a lot of money for our cruise got about a 10x10 spot that was left on the beach. We bought the deluxe drink package but every time we tried to get s drink it took forever and we had to walk to other end of the ship since there was no waiter by the kids pool area. The drinks also tasted like they had no alcohol in them. The food in the windjammer was always gross , but the food and service at reflections was good. When I went to buy a shirt off the ship the price had gone up because I “ missed the time “ of our cutoff to buy them . Which also just happened to my wife when she tried to buy our pictures that people took of us all week the whole trip we were here. They just told her we had to order them yesterday . We’re still sitting on the ship! I would never recommend this cruise to anyone nor would I ever go on it again. Also anyone who doesn’t smoke probably won’t enjoy it because all you can smell through out the whole cruise ship is cigarette smoke since they let them smoke in the casino. It was nauseating. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland, so the other ports were a bonus. The ports were good overall, but I would look carefully at the excursions offered from the cruise line and investigate ones on your own. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland, so the other ports were a bonus. The ports were good overall, but I would look carefully at the excursions offered from the cruise line and investigate ones on your own. We used Saga tours for tours in Iceland and Greenland. They did a good job overall, they were with small groups and we enjoyed that. The only problem is make sure if you use them in Greenland for a trip to the glacier that you get a guarantee of size of boat, that it is covered for ALL passengers, and that there are accommodations that allow for viewing for all passengers. We didn't, and they tried sending 4 large people in a boat that was meant for two people inside the "cabin area - the pilot and one other) with the rest of everyone outside. When is it drizzly weather being stuffed under the console was not a pleasant experience - we had to have the pilot return to port as we feared someone was going to crack their head open on the console when the pilot picked up speed. Regarding the shore excursions with Royal Caribbean, they were okay. They didn't offer anything outstanding but they weren't awful either. They did have a big problem in getting people off the ship when we tendered in Shetland, Scotland. Our private tour was delayed two hours because of it, we were unable to get to the southern part of the island as a result. The big thing to watch for is cabin location. We weren't able to self select the cabin, and were assigned 3610 - average size with a nice sized window. The major PROBLEM was it is over the engines - we had a constant hum to whine the entire trip. You could tell how fast the ship was going by the sound of the engines. For two nights there was a horrible sound that reminding me of an anchor being pulled up, it clanked and rolled. The food is average, but the waitresses and waiters were top notch. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I always wanted to cruise the Norwegian Fjords and this cruise suited my available dates. I travelled with my teenage niece who was cruising for the first time - it was my 4th cruise holiday and first one with Royal Caribbean. The ship ... Read More
I always wanted to cruise the Norwegian Fjords and this cruise suited my available dates. I travelled with my teenage niece who was cruising for the first time - it was my 4th cruise holiday and first one with Royal Caribbean. The ship is impressive overall though, on closer inspection, is showing some signs of wear and tear. I was impressed with cabin size. The evening entertainment was good in the main though the main headline shows were very short - a maximum of 45 minutes. That's fine for a so-so show but far too short for a good one - and we had one excellent show in particular, Beatle Maniacs, a Beatles tribute band who were exceptionally good. I'd have loved another hour or so of them! The main restaurant was where we dined every evening, we had availed of the My Time dining option. The food was simply outstanding as was the service. We had the same waiters each night and they felt like old friends by the end. We had a la carte breakfast in the main dining room most mornings and, while the food was good, the service wasn't. In the main service in the mornings was slow, impersonal and, we felt, unprofessional at times. We witnessed staff arguing with each other in front of passengers a few times. We weren't very impressed with the Windjammer buffet restaurant in terms of food quality. There was usually an Indian selection but we found that far too spicy for our palates. The cost of port excursions was very high - prohibitively so in my view in most cases so we ended up just doing our own thing at most ports. Finally our cabin steward was wonderful - friendly, cheerful and very helpful. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise because of the 3 days in St Petersburg, adding a few days before in Copenhagen, and after with Stockholm, Norway in a nutshell, and Bergen. A long trip. Ports Stockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the 3 days in St Petersburg, adding a few days before in Copenhagen, and after with Stockholm, Norway in a nutshell, and Bergen. A long trip. Ports Stockholm Was so Hot! We enjoyed our Steves walking tours and meeting with a friend from home for lunch before he went home the next day. Lots to see and do, ran out of time. Helsinki- cold. Steves walking tour. Helsinkin library was a must see we may have missed if not told about it St. Petersburg- cold rainy. crowds, crowds, do a tour to get past them all. so much glitz. Peterhoff was a nice break. Tallin- warmer. very quaint town. Iron man competition was happening but navigable. Riga- Not much there, tried to do church but not easy to get around. Not as cute as we had hoped. Visby- a favorite spot for us. You have never seen a medieval festival till you have been here. The only ones not in authentic wear and gear was tourists from the ship. So amazingly authentic and not the hype of festivals we americans are used to. We were very disappointed the ship left so early so we couldn’t see the evening games. cute town easily walkable. Warnemunde- took tour to schwerin. Ok, but could have spent time seeing the incoming tall ships for the next day festival. Fredericia- rainy. we took the train to Jelling for a change, then walked around Fredericia till time ran out. 
Copenhagen- rainy. we were worried hot to get off the ship and what to do with luggage but it worked out to take it to our hotel early and store it there. Again lots to see and not enough time. Steves walking tour. Embarkation- lightening fast. Never had it so good and easy. Props for organization. Disembarkation- very fast and easy although there was much confusion among many passengers about when we had to actually get off the ship, and how. Transportation to and from ports each city was different. The Compass was to give information but one of our first ports was wrong in the compass. We had researched it and knew we needed a bus or taxi but compass said walking distance. Good thing we had already made our plans. City bus (bought the 2 day pass) for Copenhagen was a lifesaver. A few tours picked us up. Mostly we just walked to towns although we did spend for taxi a few times with luggage. Someone mentioned and there is lots of confusion over getting off in Russia. We had a private 3 day tour booked with Alla. We did not have visas. We did have have lines showing passports going thru checkpoints at the dock like everyone else. We got off like everyone else. We read you had to have a ‘sponsored’ tour to leave the dock BUT I saw plenty of people coming and going and taxi’s outside. Not sure if legal to do so. Our second day a few of us wandered out the door but were missing one. The guard there (not on the last day) wouldn’t let us back in to get the one who we could see inside and didn’t know we had left him…he eventually did. We waited outside for our tour leader. Dining: Main dining room Reservations for each night depending on the schedule. twice placed at a new location than our ‘regular’ spot. Waiters were very good. They remembered our evening requests like no ice, herb tea, and most importantly 2 plates of grilled veggies for the 6 of us (once we started asking for it). (veggies seem to be non existent on cruise ships). Background music got a bit too loud for conversations a few nights but they turned it down when we mentioned it. Food was hit and miss. We were told the first night that the bottom half of the menu stayed the same the entire cruise, that meant that only a few items in each category changed each night with many repeats. Unfortunately my favorite 2 desserts I had the first night were never again to be seen. Many nights a good portion of the dishes were variations of seafood. Fine if you like seafood, and I do, but not so many options ruling out other choices. Other nights most of the offerings had some type of alcohol which I don’t want so was limited. Some dishes were really good, a few were not. Among my group of 6 the hit was the apple ‘pie’, cheese plate, and sugar free variations. We were disappointed that there was no ‘local’ options or fresh seasonal fruits other than easy to store stuff. We did breakfast on the sea day with menu or buffet option (or as it turned out both). Our food took forever to come and was only mediocre. Buffet was better options. Better than the mobs upstairs but not the variety. Buffet Why is there so much indian and japanese food? No mexican or other options. I like indian but this was all too spicy (as some main dining dishes were when I asked for mild). Lots of variety of breads, eggs, healthy stuff. Short on fruit options other than the easy to store stuff like melon, apple, oranges…I am not a buffet type diner as I find food not as good and I eat too much but we used it for all breakfasts but one due to the schedule, and lunch on the sea day. Nothing great. I really wanted a chef salad as opposed to the basic, caesar, etc. and none were available so I resorted to creating my own and asking for a sliced hard boiled egg. It was the best meal I had there. We found it easy to find spots to sit with our group (we kept crossing paths) off to the sides, behind drink station, and in the wing which gets opened and is very nice, just away from the food. After hours dining Limited options. Period. Mediocre. I recommend grabbing a cheese plate at dinner and taking it to your room for an evening snack. The ship For 6 of us not into the bar and noise scene, we never really found an ideal place in 2 weeks to play games. The best we did was the safari club which was very underused and only the stage area for the most part. It had a great rearward view and was quiet unless a game was happening which was rare. The chairs are ok and table would be if it didn’t have an annoying mounted lamp in the middle we had to work around. The game room we had planned on using didn’t have any space. Safari was comfortable and our ‘meeting’ spot. People seemed to go there to read and have quiet. The dining areas were closed off during down time, so not usable Shipboard Pool- too cold and busy and was actually covered up each evening even though it was supposed to be open. Props for having life guards who looked official even if it wasn’t necesary. Pool table- it 2 weeks to get it Shuffleboard- we gave it a try on our sea day. missing ball, bent pusher. and the puck things were defective. After an hour we succeeded in only getting about 5 pieces on the game board. All others stopped half way or flew 3x farther than intended. We have played before without issue. so it wasn’t us. We couldn’t even get any points. Movie theater- same movie all day and not great ones. Ok, too bad there isn’t a popcorn or refreshment stand nearby. Activities We tried a few ship activities on our sea day and evenings. Have had much better on other ships. Dancing lessons in the atrium could have been fun if we wren’t stepping on each other and getting smacked by inconsiderate flying arms in the cha cha. Why not use the Safari lounge with so much more room and empty??? Who cares if passers by can see? The game ideas were good but completely dare I say ‘unfair’? Ok, I am being picky but if you go you have a hope of winning. The young people leading the games were so ‘whatever-ish’ that it was really a waste of time. The game where you try to find the unique answer…those of us at the beginning crossed off the answers others said Those at the end were talking and didn’t cross the answers we said a long time earlier. Trivia game, same thing. Scavanger hunt was for items in the ship but started early before we got there and we couldn’t find anyone to tell us what to do just ‘here’s your paper, go’. Then it ‘ended’ when someone said they had all the stuff but it wasn’t on their person. I would like to see a ship do a ‘digital’ scavenger hunt where you have to bring back photos of items pertaining to the ship itself, not things you may not have in your cabin or a big group may have. After the first evening show would have been a good time to have some games but there wasn’t. Entertainment What we saw was excellent for the most part. We went to the introductory night and was not impressed by the ships entertainers so didn’t go back to their night. We heard it was OK, but not great. The other entertainers were a range of good to excellent, and we were glad we went to them. We could hear bits and pieces of special musicians around the ship but again, they are always overlapped with other things we were doing, like the 5:30 -6 dinner and show afterwards. Guitarist was great as we passed by. I wish they were staggered more or someplace other than the atrium. If our cabin wasn’t just past the atrium on 4 we would have missed many happenings as we came and went. Medical- yes we did have to make a stop for something (never had before). Hubby got bit by something someplace unknown, and it turned really nasty looking. After trying what we could we headed downstairs where the nice Dr. took a look and told us we were doing what needed to be done. At least we had it documented. We were also pleasantly surprised we weren’t charged the full bill, one we could handle without contacting our insurance company. Read Less
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
Sail Date July 2019
Chose this cruise mainly to see St Petersburg, Estonia, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Excellent to have the overnights in Stockholm and Copenhagen and especially two nights in St Petersburg. We found both the embarkation and ... Read More
Chose this cruise mainly to see St Petersburg, Estonia, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Excellent to have the overnights in Stockholm and Copenhagen and especially two nights in St Petersburg. We found both the embarkation and disembarkation went well for us and I didn't hear anyone we spoke to complaining about it. Found the ship easy to navigate and liked that there are not too many people on board. All the staff we spoke to were all friendly and helpful. Great having the Solarium on the cooler days and will look for that on other ships when we choose our next cruise. Very good entertainment at the different areas around the ship and people seemed to join in with the crew. Bingo was a bit of a rip-off so won't do that again but did have a go on the pokies and won $500. Good variety and quality of food in the free dining areas. (we didn't try any that you had to pay for) We didn't do any of the ship's shore excursions so can't comment on them. (we did do a tour in St Petersburg with TJ Travel and would highly recommend them) Will definitely travel Royal Caribbean again! Read Less
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 July 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
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
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
Sail Date June 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
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
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
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
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
Sail Date May 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
Serenade of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 3.6
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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