We chose this cruise because we had never been to the southern Caribbean islands on this itinerary. Our last two cruises ere on bigger ships so I was anxious to see if a smaller ship would still be pleasing or if it would feel less ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to the southern Caribbean islands on this itinerary. Our last two cruises ere on bigger ships so I was anxious to see if a smaller ship would still be pleasing or if it would feel less glamorous than Allure of the Seas. I needn’t have worried; while not as spectacular in terms of entertainment and variety of activities, it more than made up for that with friendliness and the chance to get to know both staff members and fellow cruisers.
Embarkation and disembarkation both went smoothly with few lines or holdups. We were aboard ship in record time. We bought the Key program (new to this sailing, I believe) which gave us priority boarding, but I don’t think it was necessary. Other perks were earlier access to our room and a sit down lunch in Chops. It was great to not have to fight the crowds at the buffet!
We had a Jr. Suite. Our stateroom attendant was good, but not spectacular. Little things like finding a used washcloth left in the shower, a tube of makeup in a drawer, and coffee spilled and not cleaned on the pull-out writing surface kept me from giving him an A+. In the past, I felt I received more attentiveness to detail than on this trip.
Dining was very good, both in the main dining room and the specialty restaurants. We bought a 5-night dining package so we went to Chops once, and Izumi and Giovanni’s twice each. I expected Chops to be the one I liked the best but the service wasn’t as personal as I am used to. Izumi had the freshest food and a great view. Giovanni’s won us over with fabulous service and extra attention from the manager, Rachel. The food was terrific, as well. We had My Time Dining for our other dinners and never had to wait for a table, whether we had reservations or not. With a couple of exceptions, all our meals were great. I think there was a fish dish we didn’t care for one night, which was quickly replaced with a different entree. Meats were cooked to requested doneness and everything was served at the correct temperature with no delays. We also did Chef’s Table, which was held in a private room off the Safari Club. Radu, our host, was incredibly knowledgeable and self possessed; we were stunned to find out he was only 22 years old! He’s a young man who will go far in th hotel/hospitality industry. The meal, prepared by Chef Kayson, was over the top. I was less impressed by the wines, which were fairly standard and easily available in grocery stores. Overall, I’d recommend this special activity; this was the third time we’ve done it.
We booked our excursions through RCCL, as I live in fear of not getting back to the ship on time. All met our expectations. We had excellent tour guides, good transportation and experienced drivers, and interesting tours. Millers By the Sea beach, in Antigua, was our only beach trip and it was very nice. The Mount Gay Rum tour on Barbados was informative and the guide at the distillery was fabulous! And we made it back before boarding time every time!
Activities aboard the ship were fun, sometimes silly, and always led by enthusiastic staff members. From trivia, sudoku, and charades to fitness classes and belly flop contests, it was nice to be on a cruise that had traditional things to do. My fellow cruisers were mainly older retirees and I think the activities were reflective of that group. Entertainment around the dinner hour tended toward ballroom dance music and more relaxing classical guitar and piano. Later in the evening, and around the pool, the music was livelier with more rock and roll.
I have to say, I loved the musical entertainment on this ship. The classical,guitarist, Voytek, was amazing, playing everything from Metallica and Led Zeppelin to Pachabel’s Canon in D and Spanish Flamenco. Chester, on piano, was the life of the party, pounding the piano, singing and keeping us all smiling. Carlo had a beautiful voice and played ballads on the guitar. I didn’t take in too much of the theater entertainment, mostly because the seats hurt my back. I heard most of it was good but a couple of nights were only so-so.
I can’t say enough for the staff on this ship. I felt special every day. Crew members remembered us by name after one meeting. (I had one waiter who brought me a drink in the Crown & Castle pub. The next day, at poolside, he remembered my name, my room number, and what I was drinking the previous evening. I was stunned!) Naomi, who taught us our routine for the “flash mob” dance on our last day was so cheerful and lovely at rehearsals, and wherever else we ran into her. The bartenders at the Centrum “r bar” were delightful, especially Roman who wowed us with his juggling/bar tending skills. William, at Vintages, remembered the wine I liked every time we stopped by. Radu, from Chef’s Table, always stopped to talk when we saw him around the ship. Even the people cleaning around the ship had a friendly greeting for us. By the end of the 11 days, I was truly sad to say goodbye.
The Serenade of the Seas is still in good shape and well-maintained. Everything was clean and upkeep was constantly being attended to. This vacation was truly pleasurable and won’t be soon forgotten. Read Less